This Writober didn’t go exactly as I had planned. One text a day is obviously not going to happen this year, but hopefully one text every week. Here is the first one, inspired by H.P Lovecraft and a writing prompt which might be a bit of a spoiler. I recommend you read the text first. Also, feel free to comment!
I can hear the waves rolling against the outer walls, the sea crashing towards shore with the ferocity of a maddened deity. The floorboards creak underneath my feet as I move over to the window. There is light outside, bright whiteness leaving a burning rectangular shape across my broken retina for minutes after I step back into the darkness. It is the waning light of day filtering its way through the heavy clouds, but I can tell it as such only due to my knowledge of deeper darkness – I have never seen the sun.
There is fire in the furnace but it is for warmth purely – that, and the limited comfort provided my senses by the homely crackling of the burning logs and the amber glow it gives to all other nebulous shapes in the room. Comfort is otherwise of limited supply in this godforsaken place at the edge of existence, and even the fire is burning low now for lack of fuel.
I find my way over to the door; rough, weathered pieces of wood keeping the elements out and my sparse sanity inside. The tower has many doors but in the way of keys I have only one. Its chain rattles in my grip as I let it find its way into the lock and provoke from the rusted mechanism a tortured groan by forcing it to turn. The storm immediately pries its salty fingers into the small opening and tears the handle from my grasp, slamming the door against the outer wall with a sound that is instantly devoured by the thunder from the sky.
I move down the three stone steps onto firm ground and start to count as I make my way towards the shed. The hurried rhythm of the waves helps me keep my pace as I step over well known obstacles and duck beneath familiar branches and structures. Their shapes reveal themselves as faint silhouettes against the otherwise white nothingness that reign all around me. I reach the small building and hurry inside, relieved to be on safe ground once more. Though I have lived on this island for as long as my memory stretches I have yet to map all its winding paths and parts. Venturing outside is always a gamble with fate and on a storm ridden day like this the well known might very well have taken on unanticipated changes. It is on days like this – and on nights like the one approaching even more so – that I most strongly regret the fact that I cannot see.
I collect the logs while the elements conduct Stygian symphonies outside the flimsy walls. The roof rattles, threatening to tear from its anchors at any moment and fly crashing into the awaiting void. It is going to hold, however. This storm is neither the first nor the worst to ravage this island and its timeless buildings. They have been standing since long before I arrived and are going to last for decades, if not centuries, after I am gone. My arms full and my mind set I gather my resolve and my courage and step once again out into the ravenous and blinding nothing.
The rhythm of the waves has intensified but I still try to keep its pace as I count my way back across the familiar unseen. The thunder is right overhead now and every third heartbeat is accompanied by a flash of searing lightning temporarily wiping out even the contours of my well known obstacles. I have covered half the distance when I lose my count once and then twice. Then I lose my footing and fall onto the wet ground.
I scratch my hands on the uneven rocks and the logs are scattered everywhere. I can feel that I am bleeding, warm stickiness trickling down my palms and my wrists and into the already soaked sleeves of my sweater. Another flash of lightning is immediately joined by the roar of thunder. The sound of the waves is different from my sprawled position, closer, hungrier. Panic rising in my mind I struggle to get back up but I trip on a fallen log and fall again. I search around with my injured hands but I cannot feel the path anymore and I have lost count of my steps together with all sense of direction. Worse still, the sky is darkening by the minute and soon I shall not be able to see even the silhouettes around me.
When once again I manage to get to my feet I am completely lost. The only familiar shapes are the few wooden logs scattered around me. I cannot be far from the path but for the life of me I cannot find it. Well knowing that I am alone I am still unable to stop myself; I scream for help and hear my hopeless call being at once swallowed by the furious wind and rain tearing the warmth from my face and fingers. There is no one here to help me, I am alone and if I don’t find my way inside before long the darkness will rob me of any chance to find shelter from the storm.
It is then that I realize what is going to save me. I have not mapped all the island’s winding paths and parts but I have walked around it several times over the years and I know how to get back to the tower from the water’s edge. The sea can not be far and all I have to do is to follow the rocky slope as is descends towards the roaring waves. I regather as many of the logs as I can find and start walking, careful where I put my feet. Being close to the water during a storm such as this one is dangerous but it is a measure I must take in order to get home.
The slope is steep but I manage to keep my footing and soon I can feel the polished pebbles rattle underneath the soles of my shoes. I start walking along the shoreline, carefully feeling my surroundings in order to orient myself and determine where I must begin to climb to reach the tower. I let my hand fumble across the rock surface on my right as I walk forward. The din of the storm is deafening down here and the froth of the crashing waves splash against my face as I walk.
Everything is different from the last time I was down here. The wind and the sea must have moved driftwood and other objects to a degree where I can no longer tell if I have walked too far or have a long way yet to go. I have never felt so alone as I do now when the last of daylight seeps from my world and denies me even the blurry outlines of things around me. Despairing I realize that I could walk along the shore for hours and still be caught in the storm and cold and rain. For the first time the realization strikes me that I might actually die tonight. Then my hand touches something even colder than the wind and I stop in my thoughts and my steps.
It is a small metal box. I have no idea how old it is but the rust on its surface tells me that it must have been sitting here on the rocky shelf for many years. My cold fingers fumble as I open the lid and feel what is inside. The box is empty save for one thing and my heart skips a beat. Two thick glass lenses connected by bowed metal wires; I am holding a pair of spectacles in my shaking hands. Breathless, not knowing what to expect, I put them on and immediately the darkness around me changes.
I can see the shore, the waves, the clouds on the darkening sky. The cliffs on my right are weathered and polished by thousands and thousands of years of elemental abuse and the pebbles underneath my feat all have different colors in the gloom. I stare, forgetting to breath for several seconds. The world is dark but for the first time in my remembered life I can see it. And high above the cliffs in front of me, looming amongst the thundering clouds, I can make out the topmost pinnacle of a tall tower. In a frenzy of newly acquired ability and determination I start climbing the cliffs, all the while marveling at the cracks and crevices that I am now able to experience with more than my cold, fumbling fingers. I am not going to die, I am going to live. And when I reach the summit of the cliff, I will see for the first time what my lifetime world actually looks like. My heart is racing in my chest, exhaustion and excitement fighting for dominance. But before any of them emerges victorious I reach the top and my heart stops entirely.
Before me stretches a world I know so well but yet not at all. I have felt it, smelled it, heard it. I have ducked under its dead branches and climbed over its fallen architecture. I have walked along its broken paths and I have harvested its resources. But never have I guessed, never have I understood. The looming tower, my borrowed home, stretches towards the sky like a giant’s misshapen finger. The buildings around it mirror its unfathomable design with their geometric profanity. A million paradoxical windows stare down at me from heights so distant as to make the thought of them vertiginous.
I find myself unable to close my eyes. With blinding clarity the ungodly city where I have lived my life reveals itself to me and I realize with rising nausea that this place has not been built by the hands of man. And then I see the light shining from the windows at the top of my tower, and I also realize for the first time that I am not as alone as I have believed. Lightning moves across the sky and someone, something, briefly blocks out the light in one of the tall windows. The horrendous shape of it etches itself onto my broken retina and can never be unseen.
The hungry sea and its sharp stone teeth rise up to meet me as I let go of the cliff and throw myself backwards. And even when I close my eyes in those final moments I still see that silhouette burning on the inside of my eyelids, reminding me that in the face of such madness blindness is a blessing. Then a sharp pain before all is merciful darkness once more.