Note: Students in Horror during the Fall 2015 semester had, as an extra credit assignment, the opportunity to compose a short story describing the events they imagine to be depicted in the painting below, which was made by the artist Danny Compton. Danny generously agreed to judge the stories and chose the one you will read here as the winning submission.
By: Jaclyn Peraino
Several decades ago, a sailor and his eight-year-old daughter planned to explore the possibility of purchasing a lighthouse. The mother and son recently died in a house fire, and the sailor needed a fresh start. He had high hopes for restoring the lighthouse on a long peninsula. His daughter was nervous to leave her friends but excited to live in a new house. The two packed up the few belongings they had and set sail up the coast ready to leave their past behind.
Upon their arrival, a realtor, who would show them the house, greeted them. The sailor thought to himself that the realtor seemed like a quirky man and had an eerie feeling about the house. His daughter, on the other hand, loved the place. She skipped up the stairs, played with the light, and even began to plan where her things would go in her room. Not wanting to disappoint his daughter after everything she had gone through, he told the realtor he would take the house and man the light. As the realtor extended his hand to shake on the deal, the sailor noticed strange markings on the man’s wrist. He shook the man’s hand and bought the house.
Before he left, the realtor warned the sailor not to get too close to the water at night because the tides have a strong undercurrent. He also mentioned that the doors sometimes get jammed shut. The little girl and her father waved goodbye and began to unpack their belongings. While she set up some decorations around the house, he went around to do small repairs to windows and doors, making them open and close properly. Though the house needed some larger repairs, the sailor decided it would be best to wait until the weather became warmer. For tonight, the small repairs would be enough and the two could enjoy the first night in their new home.
Around two in the morning, the sailor awoke to the sound of a door slamming shut. He rushed to the window and saw that his daughter was wandering outside around the front yard and then back toward the ocean. He opened the window to shout for her to come back inside. He shouted for her to stay away from the water. He shouted and shouted but she didn’t respond. He thought she might be sleepwalking, something she had never done before. He threw on his slippers and jacket to run outside after her, but the door wouldn’t open. The sailor grew frantic pounding on the door and watching through the window, as his daughter grew closer to the water. He used all the force he could to push open the door, but it wouldn’t budge. He watched, yelling hysterically, as the current pulled his daughter under. Suddenly, the door burst open and he ran to the water, but he was too late. Her limp body came back ashore and the sailor began to weep. He lost everyone he loved and knew he couldn’t go on. He created a grave at the front of the house for his daughter and dug one for himself, too.
Now, every full moon the father and his daughter can be seen roaming the lighthouse. No one has drowned in those waters since, and people say they saw a man pull them out of the water just before they couldn’t hold on any longer. It’s uncertain whether something supernatural caused the freak accident that night, but there is no question that the supernatural are saving people at that lighthouse today.