灯台の手紙 (The Letter in the Lighthouse)

 

This is a short story written for a project that sadly, fell apart under the weight of anticipation. The lighthouse in the story actually exists. That is the only factual thing about it; the rest is a festival of speculation and gore. Currently, one of the goriest stories I’ve written thus far.  It found a home in my first short story collection, EVERYTHING HERE IS A NIGHTMARE from Burning Bulb Publishing.

So yeah, it’s fun. Enjoy!

 

灯台の手紙
(The Letter in the Lighthouse)

 

11.19.46

To Whom It May Concern,

My name Alexi Bazhanov. I am an Engineer Major for the Red Army. I am writing this in English as it seems likely that this letter may be discovered by an English-speaking explorer. There is also a shorter letter in Russian in the off-chance there is a search party dispatched to retrieve me.

If you are reading this, I am already dead.

Very sad to say, you might be soon as well. There isn’t anything you can do about it now. Stop looking around you; there’s no one else here. But be assured, you are being watched.

I am writing this, knowing what is about to happen to me and honestly, what may possibly happen to you.

Hopefully, it will end with me. I am a Soviet officer…excuse me, a Russian officer; I no longer with to think of myself as Soviet.

I am a man.

But, sadly, it is why I am marked to die and possibly you as well.

It’s not going to happen to you right now. You have time, but not a lot of it. Neither do I, so pardon me if I skip some things.

It was built by the Japanese. They blasted rock in this forsaken part of the world and built the lighthouse. For all intents and purposes, it was a good idea; a generous idea. As you have noticed, it isn’t very easy to get here by boat. So many ships have wrecked, that the lighthouse was a blessing.

But that’s not why they built it.

They sensed the coming war. They knew what was coming-they’ve always known what was coming and this was their response.

This was their weapon.

This was their revenge.

After the war came and went, the Japanese were defeated in a violent and severe manner as were the Germans and of course, the Italians. The world was safe again.

And, of course, Russia, carried on. We reclaimed this area and of course, the lighthouse which at the time, seemed like a fantastic idea. It was part of a string of other lighthouses on a fifty mile stretch along the coast line. The commission came down to retro fit the lighthouses with small atomic reactors to function without a full-time keeper. This idea too was a good one. What kind of life could one expect manning a lighthouse for weeks, months on end?

I am laughing as I write this. The end is soon for me.

So, as a major engineer, I was sent to oversee the construction. It was quite simple, really. The lens of the light would rest in a mercury pool for ease of rotation while the reactor would ensure the light would not extinguish. Marvelous plan, really. I was, at the time proud to be a part of it.

The crewmen and I had been here a single day when it all started.

Our first order of business was to relieve the lighthouse keeper. He was an older man named Yuri Denisof. Life long bachelor with minimal family; ideal for the long stretches of solitude. There was a small boat poised to collect him and his meager belongings, bring him back to the larger ship and transport him back to Russia.

He was not here to greet us.

My crew scoured the lighthouse to search for him. And in less than an hour, we had discovered what was left of him.

At first glance, he appeared to be sleeping by the giant lens in the highest point of the tower; seated, facing the ocean. As we moved closer, we saw that he had torn open his midsection with a small knife and tossed his entrails out of the window. What was left, were being eaten by the birds that were all over the area. The look on his face was one of resolve. Almost, relief. I assigned three men to take care of Mr. Denisof and made the decision to bury him at sea. Certainly, not an ideal circumstance.

After that decidedly bad start, the crew made it possible to live in the lighthouse until the reactors were installed. The lamp was improved enough so the lighthouse would function without occupancy.

But, the lighthouse had occupants and always will I dare say.

I will jump ahead for the sake of time-my time specifically; it is running short at this point.

In a record three weeks, the reactors were installed and the mercury poured for the new swiveling lens. There isn’t a reason this lighthouse shouldn’t run for years unattended. It was a spectacular show of workmanship, and I am proud of the men who completed the work.

They should have fared better.

The reactors were, of course, in the lowest level of the lighthouse and, as the saying goes, out of sight, out of mind. This wasn’t hard to achieve because the problems stated almost immediately upon completion. The crew had broken out vodka, wine and bread to celebrate the completion of the reactors and they had done a very good job of incapacitating themselves. The lighthouse was lit up and the men were being loud and reckless. And who could blame them? They did an amazing job as I knew they would. We were set to leave in the morning to return home, so I allowed them to relax.

The lighthouse is quiet, you see. Even with the reactors, the only sound is the ocean. It’s calming and soothing even when in a storm. So when the scream came, it was more than just apparent. It was terrifying.

The scream came from everywhere at once. Someone dropped a bottle and it shattered, but not as shattered as the crew, who looked all around them.

It was a scream of pure agony and the men huddled together. No one said a word, even as the scream began to subside. The lights went dim-not out, but it was darker than it should have been. There was a gaping silence that was becoming louder than that scream. They looked to me, as I was the officer in charge. I tried to remain as calm as possible until the scraping began.

It sounded like someone raking a metal pipe against the curved wall in front of us. Huddled as we were, it was hard to move, but I was able to take one of the torches and scoured the wall for the sound source.

There was nothing, but a symbol on the wall-one that had not been there previously.

No one knew what that symbol meant.

No one but me, of course. It was Japanese for death. I did not tell the crew this, as they were already in a panic.

A sound of metal scraping once more began, but this time from the center where the crew were now all clutched together. One of the men screamed and the group separated quickly, making a circle. The men turned and looked as a young man howled with agony; he had a metal pipe impaling him from the top of his chest and onto the concrete floor. But it wasn’t just a pipe.

It was one of the rods from the reactors.

The pipe began to move, drawing another symbol on the floor, scraping and grinding as the young crewman shrieked. No one dared move or say a word beyond gasping. When the symbol was complete, the rod dropped with the young dying man onto the floor. Blood spilled onto the symbol, covering it, but I saw it. I knew it, too.

憎む

This symbol was HATE.

Again, I said nothing about it, but instead urged the men to make haste to the outside of the lighthouse, to which they all agreed.

And of course, the door…

It wouldn’t open.

Every light in the entire lighthouse snapped back on to full and the men reacted.

“Open the door!” they began to yell.

“Let us out!”

The scream returned and the metal scraping sound began anew. He men and I turned to see the rod pulling itself out of the dead young man and hovered in the air. Then, it straightened itself horizontally and flew at the nearest crew men near it. It skewered three of them and lifted them up, screaming. It flipped them over quickly, and they slid off, howling until they collided into the wall on the opposite end of the room. They made a sickening sound and crumpled broken, dead and bleeding on the floor.

The men shoved me aside-I was staring in disbelief-and tried to break down the door. While they were panicking, the rod came back and repeated its previous actions twice more with similar results. The men were so obsessed with the door, they hardly noticed that they were being picked apart by an unseen force bent on killing them all.

The twenty men that had come to this forsaken lighthouse was now halved and the culling continued.

The rod claimed another two, but this time they were flung at the men trying to open the door. Three of them men were struck dead upon impact while the other three were knocked over-myself included.

The rod suddenly dropped loudly onto the floor and one of the last remaining men was lifted off from the floor and slammed into the wall with crushing force. His limp broken body was then manipulated up and down against the wall in random patterns. The two men left screamed in terror, but I did not.

I watched the message being scraped in blood on the wall. It was a larger symbol this time.

ウィジャ ボード

The body was hurled to the ground with a sickening thud and the door opened. The two remaining men bolted through the door and I quickly followed them out. The two men ran outside toward the ship, but I went to the entrance to the basement level.

The symbol was for kokkurisan, or Ouija. That’s when I understood. There was a small chance I could do something about it.

I ran down to the basement and opened the door. Everything worked fine and hummed perfectly. I looked at the floor…really looked at the hard concrete floor.

There weren’t just cracks in them, there were symbols. Japanese symbols etched into the floor. I scoured the floor where I could and it was covering the entire floor; and now under the reactors as well.

The lighthouse was a giant conduit for malicious entities; a gateway to the other side.

And it was not only open, but angry.

Very angry.

I backed slowly out of the basement and climbed the stairs. I walked toward the small makeshift dock, where I assumed the two men had already left. And they had tried.

The boat was there, but in broken pieces.

As were both men; the appeared to have been torn into shreds and left in random strips on the rocks.

The birds were already feasting.

And so here I am.

You are reading this and you’re likely to die, but perhaps my confession will save you. It’s all that’s left to do.

That’s what this is now; a confession.

Although not personally involved, I am a Russian, not a Soviet and due to my lineage, I am guilty of crimes against the Japanese empire dating back to the Russo-Japanese War in 1904. I am also guilty of similar crimes during that last Great War for atrocities against the late Empire of Japan.

These crimes I am guilty of I’m ashamed to say.

I was a translator for the European forces as I endeavored to learn the language and culture in 1932 as a mere underling for the Red Army. My interceptions of transmissions led to the capture of forces in the Pacific which lead to horrible deaths in the gulags and prisons.

I don’t know if this will work to break this curse for whoever travels to this godforsaken place.

The removed head of one of the young men decimated earlier has just been flung in though the open window of the lens room.

Death beckons.

May it be swift.

Alexi Bazhanov

Engineer Major

November 19th, 1946

 

 

Epilogue

 

 

Dear Mike,

The curious letter left by the late Alexi Bazhanov appears to be authentic, although there is no actual evidence at this point to verify the deaths of the men or the symbols that were claimed to have been written on the walls and floors.

What is fact is that the reactors no longer work and there is the possibility of a radiation leak albeit, a low one. This lighthouse is structurally intact and the possibility that it may be brought back into service is rather exciting.

However, the idea that a “vengeful” Japanese spirit lurks in this lighthouse to exact revenge on those who have done the Empire wrong, are just simply absurd.

I will be at this installation until January, so wish me luck!

Say hi to the good old US of A!

Let’s hope the little spirits aren’t too mad about Hiroshima!

Yours,

Martin

© 2015 Nelson W Pyles