A chilly sea mist is blocking the Horizon. And that, I have to say, is very worrying. So I stare away from the almost invisible horizon, and observe with renewed wonder, the surface reflections of the brackish green, North Sea.
The sea… they are the sea … for they swirl in constant eddies of hidden currents that ebb and flow… always restless… looking with their almost invisible eyes flexing its surface membrane of translucent skin, around an invisible, yet very powerful muscle… keeping they’re real presence and purpose hidden from view.
I slowly sit down in a crossed legged position upon the hard brown rock. I beg to listen to those tiny waves within waves, as they gently collide against each other; so near, yet not near enough to my pale, almost numb, naked feet. But I am distracted by the long arc of the sandy beach. It rests in the pale grey, middle distance, beyond which the wind twisted sand dunes are picked out in an almost ethereal light; like a series of sharply cut lines of shades of black steel and cold iron grey.
It's out of the dunes a see a shape take form… At first It’s a dark shapeless shadow, that slowly becomes... becomes... no! I shut my eyes tight so tight it hurts. With a rage I find hard to control, I want punch the cold cracked ground with my now hard fists. I hear a sound. I slam my hands over my ears. I don't want to see. I don't want to feel. I want to forget! Forget! Forget! I turn around so I know I am not facing the beach. I remove my hands. I open my eyes. And with hope I look up. The sun shines a dull grey though the mist. But it's blocked from direct view by the huge tower that stands over me. It’s the shadow of our home…St Mary’s lighthouse, upon the edge of Whitley Bay.
I hear tiny faltering skipping steps. I turn to face the sound and see little Alice our precocious five year old, stagger over the rocks towards me. Her thick long blonde hair hangs around her shoulders in two heavily platted pigtail’s; her large green eyes shine from her elfin shaped face, that is filled with a frown of concentration. Her faded yellow floral dress is mottled with ever larger multi coloured paint stains that have grown since our arrival here less than six months ago.
I feel the depth of love begin to swell in my heart; it puts a smile upon my face, and brings a tear of fear to my eye, as I see her nearly trip over the rocks as she walks towards me. I see him in her face... Gaz...
I look down and away from her; as, I recall his gentle yet firm muscular body; his auburn tousled hair fading to a wispy grey at the edges. The kind, yet penetrative stare from his large blue, green eyes… I think of the feel of his stubble upon his narrow square jaw as our faces touched... I recall how itchy it felt, as well as the tender touch of his hard calloused skin from his large heavily calloused hands, as our bodies gently entwined together, in the tender, yet urgent need for intimacy.
Alice comes over and gently sits upon my lap; but looks down and away from me.
‘Mummy?’ her gentle voice carries within it, the echo of a once warm summer’s day.
‘-what is it darling?’
There is a long, plump heavy sounding pause.
‘ I had the dream again last night.’ I hear the tension in her voice, and note the tremble of her lip. She has been screaming with night terrors again, and I know why. But now is not the time. She has to understand We have to stay here, there is no way that we can move, It’s too risky for all of us, Oh, sweet Lord I wish I could think clearly for one second, Gaz Why-
‘ –We’re safe here.’ I can hear the lie coming from my mouth. Why do I say it? Jesus why do I pretend? Is it right to lie to keep her safe… to keep her free from… them?
‘-But, what if they can-‘
I hold her tightly, and then lift her head back to stare, as sincerely as I can muster, into her large beautiful green eyes, that shine so very brightly.
‘I promise you… ‘ I say, the words but I feel my insecurity become obvious because, I’m not sure that I believe it myself. ‘…That...they can't get us here.’
I feel hot anger build at the sound of his name. Anger at being left to fend for myself, two girls and a baby boy on my own; and anger at Alice, who has no real idea of what sweaty, blistered scab she has innocently scraped off. I want to scream and yell. I want to hold her tight and tell her that everything is going to be alright. Instead I say something else. Something terrible.
‘Gaz is dead.’
The words come out with far too much force and I instantly regret them. There is another long pause, and in that pause I feel a gulf tear open between us.
Alice stares at me, her eyes begin to change shape as they fill with large salty tears, I sense she has become riddled with an inner pain that I know only too well. I try to cuddle her to show her that it’s all ok, and that I love her desperately. But she shakes her head, her blonde pigtails, and sway about her as she roughly stands up. Swaying slightly as she pulls away from me, she takes a step back. And in that step I feel a greater gulf begin to form.
‘I know what you’re thinking.’ . You b,bb,lame me!’ starts to shout and she falters as she steps back. ‘You you think it was my fault. Well it wasn’t! IT WASN’T!...’
I shake my head; and try not to cry, as I try to reach for her. I long Just to hold her close. As inside I feel my own pain grow and wrap about me like a poison giant. Oh God, I need her to know I don’t blame her, I need to feel something, anything but this sadness anger and pain. I need her to know that we stand together against them. But she fights me off and pushes me away all the harder; while Inside I’m begging her to stop and desperately wishing that I could just turn back time and take those terrible words back.
‘…I Hate this place! AND I HATE YOU!’ She screams. As she runs away from me and into the safety of the lighthouse; leaving me alone with my guilt and glass shards of bitter, fright filled memories.
I enter the old fisherman’s cottage through the back door, and walk into the large white walled kitchen. I am met by the warm welcoming odour of freshly baked bread. It almost hides the stale smell of the decaying vegetables. In the background I can hear baby Si’, screaming for attention and for food. Rachael has her back to me, but I can see she is making soup. Her long black hair falls around her shoulders in shiny, spindling ringlets.
‘Our supplies are low.’ she says with her back to me. Her voice sounds cold and as sharp as a razor blade.
‘-an’ the lines need bringing in-
‘-yes, yes ok!-’ I feel tired and put upon.
‘-Just for Christ sake, shut up!’ I shout savagely; as I leave the kitchen and go through the narrow hall, to the front room, where Si’ is lying on the white rug; his pen surrounding him. It doesn’t take him long, a cuddle and a suckle, settles him quick. I look down and see in his eyes Gaz staring at me. As I sit in the rocker by the window, words start to fall from me like the heavy summer rain.
‘Why… why’d you have to do it? Be the fucking hero… when we need you… when I need you… There’s so much to do… so much to sort out…
‘Si’ looks up and gurgle’s sweetly; his round face and blue eyes shine, his toothless mouth white with milk and spit. I smile down, unaware of the footfall in the hall.
‘Jane.’ It’s Rachael again, I feel my nerves grate. ‘Alice is upset. Why did you have to say that?
‘-We’re safe here.’ I can hear the lie in my voice, because I know it’s insane to stay, but I just can't let go...
‘-Who says?’ She asks. Her voice sounds clearly hostile; and that hurts me. ‘You know ‘ow we’ve done it in the past… Alice ‘as the dream an’ we move on. That’s what we’ve always done since...’ She doesn’t finish the sentence but the air is heavy. ‘…Gaz would want us to move on. Staying ‘ere is suicide.’
‘-Gaz isn’t here.’
‘-An’ don’t we know it…’ She replies tersely. ‘…They are real, you know they are! And they are coming…’ Her words echo about the large living room, like a dark prophecy. ‘…You might want to stay ‘ere an’ hold on to your memories, your dreams, an’ your youth. But we, the rest of us need to live!’
I don’t look up; I only hear her feet slowly walk away upon the red flagstone floor.
I hear a clatter of pots from the kitchen, and feel my face blush with guilt and shame. I look to the cot, but Si’ is asleep. So I turn in my chair to look out of the cracked window. The green sea is flat and seems to go on forever. The sky, a stone grey. The fog has lifted. I only wish my mind was as clear.
Night has come. The fire licks orange-yellow flames up the chimney, and leaves the room feeling warm. Si’ has been taken from my lap, and placed in his crib. I look across the room and see the heavy sofa. Oh how I wish he was here, holding me close, telling me what to do.
But he died six weeks ago, while Alice was building sandcastles on the beach…
a week ago. I was in the kitchen preparing breakfast, while Gaz stood in the doorway, looking out towards the beach. We had been up for about an hour; I was feeling sleepy warm, ruddy and tender from our love making.
I looked out of the window across the tiny bay to where a wet Alice; her blonde hair dark, tousled and full of salt; had started to put sand into the small round yellow plastic bucket by her knees.
Then the alarm sounded. Instantly, we stared at each other. Nothing was said. Our eyes wide open simply met; while my heart began thumping with a black panic.
Then he ran as fast as he could down the narrow path that led back to shore. It didn’t take him long to reach the beach; or the heavy black junction box that we had improvised as part of the EMF shield extension. He quickly ripped the lid off it; before, as gently as he could, so not to make her panic, call Alice over to him.
It was a sunny day… the sky was unusually blue and clear from the swell of grey cloud that normally came from across the sea.
It seems amazing that I didn’t see the raised antenna, or the tentacles that followed, until it was too late.
I screamed as I saw them snake up the beach. Rachael saw them next. She ran from the lighthouse picking up the rifle that was resting by the kitchen door. I saw her wave frantically, before charging down the narrow path. Her body jarring as she sped. She stopped as she reached the beach and managed to get two shots off, as the tentacles silently sped towards them.
It was enough for Gaz to see what was coming. I saw him click something. The alarm suddenly died, and then, instead of running towards us, with Alice in his arms…he ran the other way…leaving Rachael and Alice to run towards the safety of the newly functioning shield.
It only took a second… hundreds of tendrils wrapped about his body; lifting him up high into the blue sky. And there he hung for a moment, like a twisted puppet, his arms outstretched, screaming; before he was suddenly dragged down at a lightning speed, swallowed by the green swirling sea.
‘Gaz…’ my voice sounds dry and cracked. I close my eyes and shut out the candles, the fire-place and the near silence of the room. But the room isn’t empty any more.
The room is a blur; a swirling wash of orange embers, mahogany and candlelight.
I wipe my eyes and stare across the room.
He sits there sweetly, that smile upon his face; as if he’s never been gone. Doesn’t he know what he’s done to us? Doesn’t he care that we have had to cope without him?
Gaz…He sits in front of me, wearing that blood red jumper. I shake my head, not knowing what to do, not knowing what to believe.
‘Jane my darling, you have to leave here. Alice and Rachael are in real danger.’ He speaks, in urgency, yet in a voice that I find hard to grasp. ‘The old ones are coming here. They know you’re here. Jane…please listen to me.’
‘Where have you been?’
‘Jane I know how much this place means to you, but you have to leave.’
Suddenly I’m in the open! There is a screaming whine of an insects wing, followed by the clacking of hideous alien voices , followed by a loud whump; as their heavy feet made of constantly winding tendrils tie themselves about each other, giving strength to the whole form as it staggers upon the land, with a hideous slouching gait , its single yellow eye ablaze with insane victory as it screams in an unearthly triumph; all the while more huge fibrous tentacles are reaching out for me, smothering…smothering my face.
I scream myself awake. Baby Si is in Rachael’s arms. I feel a little jealous that he is resting in her arms, but I try not to let it show. After all I love her as if she is my own.
‘I’m sorry ‘bout yesterday.’
I find a smile upon my face and hope that it isn’t fake.
‘-It’s… just that I miss-‘ I can see her pain and her strength.
‘-I’ts ok. You’re right. It’s not safe here any-more. We’re leaving, get Alice.
With a smile on her face she speedily turns and leaves the front room.
The sky is full of slate black raging clouds that boil and curl over a violent pale green sea. The wind is beginning to rage too. That’s good because it means the insects can’t fly. Also with the electro-magnetic energy the land monsters will be stuck too. That only leaves them from the sea.
Leaving is painful…The memories fill, and wash over me…I almost feel haunted, though not by the monsters… For I have lived two lifetimes here, and that’s not bad for a woman in her late thirties...I look at the lighthouse… I see Gaz...The man who kept me sane and us together… The Father of Alice and Simon, and the Brother of Rachael...I see him standing on the beach waving us off, so I know it’s time… and it’s ok now, to say goodbye.
We get into the screen cracked land-rover. It’s weighed down with supplies and the four of us. I turn the engine over and see that the tank is half full. I also know that we have a spare tank of fuel in the back… we are ready to go, And not before time. For as we sit in the car, we watch silently, to see huge leathery tendrils come out of the broiling sea, we hear a hissing scream as they wrap themselves about the buildings; and monstrous howls as slowly the buildings are torn to shards of rubble iron and glass; the towering light, broken into bones of iron and lumps of powdered stone. Where are we going? I am not sure, south... I think... I look back at the ruin of the lighthouse; our home for so short a time, is now a broken shell. I look at Alice and she smiles for the first time in an age... and at Rachel who stares down lovingly Simon… she is smiling too and that is nice to see... Yeah… it’s time to move on.