Literary Corner: The Lighthouse

The lighthouse stood empty on its rocky promontory, looking sightless out over the sea. It had been decades since its beacon had warned sailors of the basalt monsters that crouched beneath the waves along foggy shorelines, waiting for inattentive helmsmen to deliver their pound of flesh.

Most of the coastal lighthouses no longer operated, but this lighthouse was special. This lighthouse had a ghost, a wailing woman, or at least, that was how the story went—a woman from the turn of the nineteenth whose love had been lost at sea.

Less commonly known was the lighthouse’s actual secret, which was far, far stranger.

On Labor Day, a small group of campers caught in a freak rainstorm took shelter in the lighthouse. They discovered a trap door. A tunnel. A room, deep in the belly of the cliff. When they walked into the room, mobile phones without signal but with surprisingly powerful flashlights illuminated the walls, the chair, the table. One camper screamed, one camper fainted, and one raced back through the tunnel just as the cast-iron trap door fell like an anchor into place.

Rescuers searched the shoreline for weeks, but no bodies were ever discovered. Theories ranged from drownings to abduction to death by giant squid, but no one suspected the truth.

The lighthouse stood on its hill unmolested, staunch protector of old things and home to dozens upon dozens of ghosts.

Mary Elizabeth Summer is the author of the young-adult Trust Me mystery series. She lives in Beaverton with her wife, their daughter, their dog, and their evil overlor—er, cats.