Like a sadistic but patient serial-killer; the ocean waters had hummed gently for over a week before rising and twisting with ferocious rage as darkness plunged its shapeless dagger, acting as an accomplice to the feral waters. The ocean is an enormous Venus Flytrap that eventually devours those who spent the majority of their lives at sea, as Emilia’s racing yacht crew found to their peril as their boat split in two and the irresistible gravitation pull of the bed of the ocean switched on and exerted its malevolent force, like the sudden transformation of a star into a black hole.
The curling waves hissed as if they were ravenous snakes on Medusa’s head, dragging their victims towards their mother’s tomb, the white-coated waves provided the only glimmer of light to aid Emilia’s attempts to reach her lifeboat but like the highest point of a rollercoaster they only signalled the imminent frenzy. However, Emilia’s fear of her surrounding whale-infested water trumped the logic of chaos as she rode the waves like a human surfboard and grappled onto the lifeboat. This only deepened the ocean’s howl as it formed an expanding vortex that resulted in the boat gyrating involuntarily like a cowboy riding an unrelenting bull.
Emilia tied her left leg to the hemp rope that had earlier attached the lifeboat to her sailing yacht and wrapped her body around the wooden plank that ran across the middle of the boat. Eventually, the ice-cold water galloped over the boat’s rim and flooded her eardrums and nostrils. The incessant pounding of the water loosened her firm grip of the plank.
The elevating fluid quickly submerged her horizontal figure as she struggled to elevate her body amidst the constant bombardment of the ceaseless deluge. As she focused her attention on untying the lineman loop’s knot she had used to ensure she remained attached to the boat, she heard the front of the lifeboat screech against a hard surface.
Emilia ignored this development and persisted with untying the damp hemp rope from her left leg. After methodically unwinding the rope, she set herself free and peered upwards. She then removed her hiking boots and socks as they were overflowing with water. The darkness remained but a constellation of stars dimly lit her surroundings; hanging over her like a large crystal chandelier, refracting streams of light that bounced in the sky like anarchic lasers.
Above her stood a steep, barren hill on top of which stood a black lighthouse that was twice as tall as the gnarled ash tree it stood next to. It was a strikingly odd and unsettling combination; it was as if the Tree of Life stood next to the Empire State Building.
She hopped off the boat and briskly ascended the slope, ignoring the weight the sea water had burdened her clothes with. Her sense of unease deepened as she reached the slope’s summit. The lighthouse stood so close to the summit’s edge that she was able to open its flimsy wooden door seconds later.
“Hello? Anybody there? Hello.”
The lighthouse was lit by a solitary red candle rested on a cream ceramic plate that stood upon a polished mahogany drawer, above which stood a painting of a tall, dark-haired woman who stood on the doorstep of a red brick house. Emilia lifted the candle in search of a route to the top of the lighthouse. To her surprise, rather than encountering a spiral staircase, she found four sets of interconnected platform stairs.
With a degree of awkwardness she gradually climbed these stairs while ensuring she kept hold of the ceramic plate and candle.
Upon climbing the final stairs, she entered an open archway that led to a room that had the appearance of a hastily built tree-house; its one redeeming feature was a large, marble fireplace; on top of which rested a black hardback book entitled The Collected Ghost Stories of M.R. James. Her bare feet felt the pinch of the warmth emanating from the fireplace as she hurried towards its glowing lights, ignoring the book and placing the ceramic plate on top of the fireplace.
Adjacent to the fireplace was a smaller room. The upper half of the door was glazed while the lower half was covered by black cardboard, she attempted to peek through the glazed glass and saw a white bathtub, but little else.
She tried to open the door, but it was locked. She was about to remove her clothing so that it could dry above the fireplace, when she noticed two uncorked bottles of port and a large plastic decanter filled to its rim with the fortified wine on a table near the room’s small balcony. Having suppressed her parchedness for hours, she hurriedly lifted the decanter and guzzled at the port, failing to notice the jug’s surprising weight. It was only after four mouthfuls and the half emptying of the decanter that she noticed a beating human heart at its bottom.
She dropped the decanter at her feet and kicked the heart into the fire before rushing towards the archway. Just as she approached its entrance, she heard a screeching sound overhead. It sounded like a large body was being dragged across the lighthouse’s ceiling. The resulting sound was as if sharp nails were being scratched across the back of a new born baby.
With her back now turned to the fireplace, she now heard the pounding of a heavy footstep from the direction of the archway; it was moving away from her, until it finally faded into silence.
Suddenly, the half-glazed door slammed open. She turned round to see the bath overflowing with blood and excrement. Trickles of lines of these substances rushed towards her bare feet, yet she remained motionless as a dripping sound emanated directly above her.
As she looked upwards she noticed a colourless liquid splashing drop-by-drop from the ceiling. Three of these drops fell upon her forehead, one on to her left ankle and the other one landed in front of her right foot. They burnt through her skin; she was unable to conceal her pain as she screamed thunderously. The voices and sounds ceased, giving way to a solemn stillness as Emilia found herself covered in blood, excrement and acid yet still unable to move.
A distant, phlegmatic moan which bore a striking resemblance to that of her crew member Timandra unbound the invisible chains tied to her feet as she grabbed the candle from the fireplace and scampered down the platform stairs.
Despite her hastiness, she was compelled to return to the painting that lay near the foot of the stairs, as the woman who stood facing the brick house was crawling on all floors, bloodied all over and staring miserably in her direction.
She flung open the wooden door at the front of the lighthouse; only to find the ground littered with tarantulas, all of which were heading towards her lifeboat. It was as if she had stumbled onto the set of an arachnid-centric horror film and the CGI projected onto the green screen had somehow escaped onto the set.
Searching for their origin from the relative safety of the lighthouse, she tilted her neck to find that they were rushing out of a gaping hole in the middle of the ash tree.
Emilia tip-toed out of the lighthouse and sidestepped her way around its base until she reached the side of the island she had not previously seen. Here, there was no slope between the lighthouse and the water so she jumped without hesitation.
While in mid-air she glimpsed at the water, spotting the nearby blue whales only when she was in mid-air; she tried to reverse her action but this resulted in her hitting her head against one of the large stones protruding from the cliff on this side of the island, killing her before her body hit the water.