He’s Watching You – Episode 06

“IT’S got a bad reputation, this lighthouse. You can feel it sometimes.” Joseph drew on his pipe and spat out a flake of tobacco.

“What do you mean?” Joan was curious.

“There’s two keepers have been lost from Black Rocks lighthouse. One at the turn of the century.”

“What happened?”

“He was standing right here. There was a ferocious gale and he should have been safe inside.”

Joan’s eyes opened wide.

“A gust caught him and tossed him over like a loose straw. Just imagine.” Joseph took her arm and pushed her close to the railings, and for an appalling moment she thought he was going to shove her over on to the serried teeth of the rocks below.

Then his grip eased and his features broke into a smile, but there was no warmth in the grey eyes. She stepped back into the safety of the lamp room, unnerved. Then she told herself not to be ridiculous. The man had only been laying a friendly hand on her arm.

“And the other?”

“Ah, the other. Nobody knows for sure. Nineteen nineteen, it was. Just after the war. When the relief man came to take over from the night keeper there was nobody there. Just an empty lighthouse, with tea on the brew, an open book and a paraffin heater lit.”

“Didn’t they ever find out what happened?” Joan’s voice was little more than a whisper.

“No, they didn’t. He fell down the stairs, if you ask me. And being half concussed, crawled to where he thought was safe. I reckon he was that dazed he fell over the cliff.” Joseph packed more tobacco in his pipe. “There’s some as say he walks in bad gales.” He sighed and raised his thick eyebrows.

“But there you are. That’s village talk for you.” Suddenly he changed and became the twinkly-eyed, grandfatherly keeper again. “Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit, Miss Merriel.”

“Oh, I have. Thank you for showing me round.”

The truth was that the lighthouse had spooked her and she was glad to leave.

When she glanced back Joseph was still standing outside the black door, a cloud of pipe smoke swirling round his head.

Joan couldn’t shake the feeling that he had been giving her a warning. And she could almost still feel his hand on her arm.

Then she pulled up suddenly. There was a figure watching from a clump of bushes. The face, half hidden by branches, was familiar. It was Lieutenant Walker, the coastguard.

Joan looked again, but he had vanished. She hurried along the path, wondering whether he was there behind her, creeping ever closer.

She forced herself not to run, and as she emerged by the dunes she saw him again. He was unrolling a coil of the viciously barbed wire.

Out in the open, her indignation surged.

“Are you following me, Lieutenant?”

He looked up, surprise etched all over his face.

“Now why would I do that?”

“I saw you behind the bushes. When I was returning from the lighthouse.”

His expression didn’t change.

“I daresay you did. I was searching for toadstools. A hobby of mine.”

She didn’t believe a word of it.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.