“The old lighthouse is haunted by the ghost of the light keeper’s wife. She and the light keeper were happily married, until one day, a pretty young thing came into town. The new woman was the catalyst that turned their joyous marriage into a broken one. The young lady took an interest in the poor but handsome light keeper, and normally he would’ve ignored her advances, but soon he became aware of the large inheritance she had gained from her father. After hearing this news, he agreed to wed with her the next day. That night, he lured his wife to the top of the lighthouse, and when she had his back to him, pushed her over the railing, sending her plummeting down to the jagged rocks below,” the scraggly hunchbacked man told the couple. Standing under the supposedly haunted lighthouse, the young couple exchanged a dubious look.
“I’m sorry, but we’ve heard so many ghost stories today, it feels like it’s just a platitude around this town,” the young woman confessed to the stranger. With her opaque sunglasses sitting in her amber hair, an expensive looking camera around her neck, and hiking clothes on; it was apparent that she and her boyfriend were tourists to Black Hallows.
“Ghosts and other supernatural phenomena are an inherent part of this town’s history, and all of the stories are true, I assure you young miss,” the old man claimed in a gravelly voice.
“Not to sound redundant,” the boyfriend started, “but how do you know that it’s true?” the young man asked hesitantly. His girlfriend elbowed him in the stomach.
“Roy! Don’t be rude!” He looked at the ground sheepishly kicking the porous rock that made up the sturdy base of the lighthouse.
“Sorry Ann! I just want to know! Not trying to be rude,” he muttered.
“It’s alright son. I understand that you’re curious. But just remember that curiosity killed the cat; ain’t nothing gonna bring it back,” he stated matter-of-factly.
“Um, I don’t think that’s how the saying goes,” Ann corrected.
“You may be right, but that’s the truth around these parts. But I digress; don’t go sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong. Especially not in Constance’s business.”
“Who’s Constance?” Roy questioned.
“The light keeper’s dead wife. You were asking how I knew she was real,” he acknowledged, pausing for a moment, his eyes drifting like he was in profound thought. “She tried to kill me. I know it was her. I was climbing up the lighthouse stairs, and she pushed me. I saw her cackling, desiccated face as I tumbled down the steps, 30 feet worth, and landed at the bottom. I couldn’t move. The pain was excruciating. I don’t know how I disturbed her. But all I know is…she knew…she knew I was weak, and she knew that no one was around, that help wouldn’t come for another 3 hours. I haven’t stepped foot in the lighthouse since. I knew it was just a precursor of things to come, so now I just work in the gift shop,” he finished. They didn’t know what to say. He sounded so adamant that they felt obligated to believe him. But ghosts? Ghosts weren’t real…right?
He looked over the couple’s shoulders and at the fiery setting sun. Stiffly standing up, he grunted out, “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid we’ll have to save this conversation for another time. The lighthouse closes as soon as it’s dark, which is in fifteen minutes. The staff, including myself, don’t want to be stuck here when Constance is around.” He nodded to Roy and Ann and started to shuffle off, calling out, “Have a good night!”
Ann turned to Roy. “What an eccentric old man,” she commented shaking her head. She took a step to walk away from the lighthouse and back to their car but Roy grabbed her wrist. “What?” she turned to face him, her brows furrowed.
“I have an idea. Why don’t we go get dinner and come back later? Like when the lighthouse is closed,” he suggested. She tilted her head in confusion.
“And why would we do that? We could get put in jail for trespassing,” Ann objected. Roy smiled like he knew a secret that no one else did.
“Because. No one else will be here. The old dude told us that the locals stay away. So we can have our own little adventure and explore the place. It’ll be like our own little private ghost tour,” he coerced. Ann rolled her eyes, prompting Roy to continue, “C’mon, you know it’ll be fun! There’s nothing to be afraid of. Don’t you at least want to see if there’s a,” he stopped, letting his voice drop into a fake scared whisper, “ghost?” Ann broke into a grin at his silliness, and nudged his shoulder with her arm.
“All right, I’ll go with you on your adventure, ghost man,” she teased, entwining their fingers and pulling him away from the lighthouse and towards the parking lot, their car one of the few vehicles that were dispersed throughout the lot, “but if the cops catch us, I’m running. I promise to bail you out of jail though. Deal?” she bantered.
“Deal,” he replied, placing a kiss on the top of her head.
It wasn’t until much later that night when they came back. Driving up to the now deserted lighthouse, Ann wondered how they would get over the chain link fence. Roy hopped out of the car as soon as Ann parked it and ran around to the back, slamming the passenger side door shut. He opened the trunk and pulled out the two high-power flashlights they had bought at the hardware store ten minutes earlier. It was the most excited Ann had seen him in a while. She came strolling around the back, an unlit cigarette pinched between her teeth while she impatiently flicked the lighter that was clenched in her fist.
“Ann,” Roy chided, closing the trunk so hard that the car shook, “you know those aren’t good for you.” Ann shrugged, pocketing the lighter and took a long drag from the cigarette. The end of it glowed as she inhaled, the small ember the only man made light near them for miles. After letting the smoke swirl around in her lungs, she exhaled through her nose, resembling a dragon who had just breathed fire.
“What can I say? Old habits die hard,” she laughed, patting the pack of Camels in her back pocket. Roy shook his head and chuckled.
They approached the six-foot fence, and when they were underneath it, Roy chucked the flashlights over. They landed with a thunk on the other side. Ann wanted to say that throwing the flashlights over wasn’t a very smart thing to do, but neither was breaking into a lighthouse at one A.M., so she decided to keep her thoughts to herself.
“What now?” she asked. Roy grabbed a loop of the chain with each of his hands and stuck the toes of his shoes in the holes created by the wires. The wire clanked sharply against its support poles as he hoisted himself on top of the fence.
“There’s no barbed wire, so,” he jumped off the top and landed safely on the grass on the other side, “you can just climb on over.” Ann dropped her stubby cigarette onto the dirt and ground the butt in with her heel. Once she was on the other side, Roy handed her a flashlight which she promptly turned on.
“C’mon Roy, turn on your flashlight too. It’s dark,” she urged. They started to walk down the beaten dirt path to the lighthouse. It was surrounded by tall dark trees on either side that were making Ann start to feel uneasy.
“You getting scared already?” Roy joked. Even so, he turned his flashlight on too. Not because he was starting to feel a little scared by the weird animal noises all around them, but because he wanted to make Ann feel safe. Yeah. That’s why.
The only sounds in the forest were the crunch of dry twigs underneath their feet and the chirp of crickets as they continued to trudge down the deserted trail. The beams of light from their flashlights roamed the darkness and illuminated nothing but leaves, rocks, and the occasional lizard or frog. Even though they heard nothing and saw nothing, Ann still felt like something was wrong.
“Do you…you don’t think, that maybe, the old man was-was right? Do you? He couldn’t have seen a ghost. They aren’t real. But like…now that I’m here, and it’s nighttime, and its dark…something just feels off,” Ann admitted, rubbing her tired eyes, “like that feeling that you get in your gut when you know something or someone just isn’t right? That’s what I’m feeling right now.” Roy nodded.
“I know exactly what you mean. I’m getting that feeling right now too. Do you want to stop and turn back?” he questioned. Ann shook her head.
“No. Definitely not. I may be scared, but this is fun. I like being here with you. And like you said, it’s an adventure. What’s an adventure without a little suspense?” She joked, holding onto Roy’s arm.
“Exactly!” he exclaimed, hoping it didn’t sound forced. His sense of adventure was gone, replaced by fear. The deeper they got into the forest, the less safe he felt. All he wanted to do was turn back now. But if Ann didn’t want to, then he wouldn’t say that he wanted to.
They came upon a divergence in the road. It split the trail into two paths.
“I don’t remember this,” Roy murmured, panic seeping into his voice. Ann’s head whipped towards him.
“What did you say?” Ann questioned, concerned. Roy shook his head and blinked a few times, trying to suppress his anxiety.
“Uh, nothing, nothing,” he assured, lying to himself and Ann.
“Ok good. We go left, correct?”
“Yeah. Yup. That’s right,” he made up, deciding just to follow her lead. He tried to convince himself that there was absolutely nothing to be afraid of, but try as he might, he couldn’t suppress the feeling of dread that kept bubbling up inside him.
Ann’s taste for adventure disappeared as soon as they stepped on the path. There hadn’t been any wind previously, but all of a sudden it felt like they were in a wind tunnel. The trees bowed and swayed, and Ann’s hair whipped around in her face. Ann and Roy were petrified, and a strong gust disarmed them of their flashlights, knocking them out of their hands and sending them clattering ten feet away. Roy gasped and Ann shrieked,
“Ann, don’t!” Roy shouted, desperately wanting to drop everything and run. But it was too late. She was already bolting towards them. Just as she was bending over and to scoop them off the ground, the wind picked up speed and caused her to lose her balance and tumble forward and lay prone on the ground.
“Ann-“ Roy started, but he couldn’t finish her name. The wind stopped completely, and the ground in front of her was coated in a blue glow. Ann tilted her head up-
“Oh my God.”
There, hovering in the air, was a ghost. She was wearing a long, weathered dress whose hem was in tatters and her faced was so sunken in and dehydrated, that it looked like someone had replaced her skin with burlap. Her features were blank, not a hint of amusement or fear in them.
“The light keeper’s murdered wife,” Ann whispered.
“Constance,” Roy choked out.
Constance’s hands were clasped in front of her, like a bride holding a bouquet. Ann saw something small and red in her grasp, but she couldn’t make out what it was. When she squinted it almost looked like…
“My lighter!” Ann realized.
“Oh no…” Roy murmured.
Constance slowly unclasped her hands, one hand holding Ann’s lighter. Her face, that had previously been void of any emotion, suddenly broke into a devilish grin. She lifted her thumb and let it hover over the lighter.
“Crap,” Ann muttered.
Constance flicked the lighter, and the forest surrounding them burst into roaring flames.
“RUN!” Roy and Ann shouted at the same time. Roy broke into a mad dash for the parking lot, and Ann scrambled to her feet and took off behind him. They were running past the flames that threatened to engulf them, the heat radiating off the fire in scorching hot waves. Ann felt like she was choking on the heat, the flames sucking away all the oxygen, making it hard for her to breathe. Roy pumped his arms with all his might, and prayed that Ann was still behind him. When he glanced back, he saw that she was, but he also saw Constance floating above her. He got so distracted that he veered off course and started heading towards the burning trees. Luckily he turned back in time to the fiery tendrils trying to reach out and snare him, and he redirected himself.
“Look! The parking lot!” Ann cried out from behind him. He could see their lone car in the lot and he felt like crying with relief.
“You have the keys right?” He shouted back to Ann.
“Uh, I thought you did!” Ann called back. Roy felt his blood run cold.
“WHAT?!?” He shrieked.
“Just kidding!” Ann yelled, snickering at Roy’s panic. He swore he could almost hear Constance laughing behind him. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist! Yes, I have the keys!” The chain link fence was fast approaching, and Roy took a deep breath. He put all his strength in his legs, and vaulted himself on top of the fence in two seconds. Ann jumped when she came to the fence and Roy grabbed her arm and pulled her up. They dropped to the ground at the same time and careened towards the car. Ann fished the keys out of her pocket as they ran and unlocked the doors before they reached them. They opened the doors so violently that Roy thought he was going to tear his door off its hinges. Ann jammed the keys in the ignition and floored it.
They sped away from the lighthouse at seventy miles per hour, fifty miles over the speed limit, and not caring at all. Ann’s chest was still heaving from anxiety and the run, and Roy was panting like a dog. Ann thought about how stupid they were, and how they would’ve been completely safe if they had just stayed away from the lighthouse like the old man said to. A fit of giggles bubbled up and soon she and Roy were laughing hysterically. She didn’t know why she was laughing like a maniac; if it was the fact that they almost died, or that ghosts were real, or that they were just so stupid, but she kept laughing until she was crying.
Finally, the giggling died down, and she took deep, calming breaths.
“That little ‘adventure’ was not a good idea,” Ann stated, eyes glued on the road, lips quirking up to the side.
“I know,” Roy snickered.
“Let’s never do that again.”
Roy leaned over and gave Ann a peck on the cheek, grinning widely.
“But I am glad we had that little botched ‘adventure’…together,” Roy confessed.
“Me too. Me too.”
Ann sighed, relieved that they made it out in one piece. Together. She glanced in the rear-view mirror to check for cars and…
Ann’s blood drained from her face. Sitting in the backseat of their car. Was Constance. With the biggest grin plastered on her face. Waving at Ann through the rear-view mirror.