Light – Actual Play Journal

November 17th, 1896

My name is Adam Tabor and I am the junior lighthouse keeper here at Point Plenty. Forgive my notes – I know they are likely not what should be written here but Mr. Gauvreau never showed me how to fill out this logbook.

I do not know what has occurred while I was sleeping but the other wickies, Mr. James Gauvreau and Mr. Caleb Wilkins, are missing. I have searched the island these past few hours and have found no sign of or reason for their disappearance. Their bunks are made, the boat is accounted for, and the lamp is oiled and running as if just tended to.

I am alone.

I do not have the luxury to spend more time searching for Mr. Gauvreau or Mr. Wilkins as the northern sky seems to be darkening by the hour and there is much to do with only one person on duty. I hope this is some fool prank only, and nothing more, though the island is not so large and full of hiding places that I could have missed them in my search, I think. If it is not some ruse and the men are truly and earnestly lost to this world, I pray for mercy for both of their souls and for mine as well. This storm will not be gentle, from the looks of it.

With any small sliver of fortune, the storm will pass from this place and my relief will arrive in the next few days. With any small sliver of fortune, I would not find myself in this predicament in the first place. Forgive my selfishness. I should not be thinking of my own tribulations at a time like this.

November 18th, 1896

No sign of the other men. After dinner last night I moved my cot from the cottage into the base of the lighthouse proper to more easily keep an eye on the lamp and machinery. The storm is full upon us. Upon me. By the time I wrestled my cot and bedding into the lighthouse, everything was soaked. It is cold in here but I have enough layers to keep the worst of the chill at bay.

The wind rattles every pane of glass and fat, angry rain drops tap accusingly on every surface. The only other sound is the slow click, click, click of the clockwork that moves the great light. Every day I re-set the mechanism that keeps the light turning and top off the oil. That was the last thing Mr. Wilkins showed me how to do and I am glad for it. At least I can keep the waters around Point Plenty safe for any fool ship caught in this Nor’easter.

It appears my luck may be turning, however. Miraculously, the mercury seems to be on the rise! Mr. Wilkins taught me to read the barometer on my first day here, shamefully ignorant as I was about the job I was taking. If it continues to rise, perhaps the storm will blow itself out in a day or so.

Odd happening today. As I was walking to fetch more oil from the storage shed, I came upon an empty bottle of rum wedged between the rocks. Normally I would just say this was some flotsam tossed up by the storm but the tide comes nowhere near where I found the bottle. Odder still, the stopper was in the bottle and there was a bit of spirit inside. Mr. Gauvreau did not allow alcohol of any kind on the island, not even for medicinal purposes, seeing as how he was a Mormon. Strange to speak of a man in past tense, seeing as how I just shared a meal with him a few nights ago.

November 19th, 1896

Not much to report today. I find it very difficult to sleep in the lighthouse and am considering moving my bed back to the cottage. Perhaps it would be more prudent to take one of the other men’s cots. I find it difficult to consider that, truth be told. They disappeared so quickly, perhaps the could reappear with equal speed? I know it is unlikely and grows more unlikely with every passing moment but I will hold off on taking over another bunk for now.

When eating my supper this evening, I found Mr. Wilkins copy of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea sitting open at his usual seat at the table. Unlike the bottle from yesterday, there is nothing strange about this – I just haven’t bothered returning the book to his footlocker since he disappeared. I am not much of a fiction reader myself but Mr. Wilkins loved all things speculative and would talk endlessly about Verne and Carroll, which I didn’t mind in the least. His fascination with such childish things seemed little more than a delightful affectation and, truth be told, the tales he recounted to me were entertaining, though not substantial.

His fascination with the macabre and horrific, however, I could have done without. Ghost stories. Tales of foul murders. Creatures that stalked through the night. These things Mr. Wilkins would also talk about at length whenever Mr. Gauvreau was out of earshot. I am not easily frightened; however, Mr. Wilkins told these tales with such verve and ability that even my normally stout heart was affected by his words. I am glad it was Verne left at the table and not Le Fanu. I’d rather not think of ghouls and vampires while alone in the dark.

On a positive note, the mercury continues to rise. The storm should break in a day or so.

November 20th, 1896

Storm worse today. I wrapped myself in my oilskins and checked the light before returning as quickly as possible to the cottage and the warmth of the fire. I’ve moved the table towards one of the small windows so I can watch the light from here without issue. Mr. Wilkins and I suggested doing this to Mr. Gauvreau a few weeks ago but he would not hear of it. Things are fine as they are, he said, and our wanting to move the table was only a sign to him that we were seeking ways to be lazy.

I am sorry to treat this book as my journal or diary, however there is no other writing paper in this place and confining my thoughts to paper is the closest thing to conversation I have.

Mr. Gauvreau was always looking for signs of laziness in us in order to root them out. I remember a few weeks ago he and Mr. Wilkins nearly came to blows after he caught Mr. Wilkins slinking off to sit in the cave by the jetty to read. Mr. Wilkins assured Mr. Gauvreau that his tasks were complete for the day and that he was only reading on his own free time, but Mr. Gauvreau wouldn’t hear it. He said since we’re being paid to live here around the clock, we had no free time. There was always something to be done and idleness was as good as theft, in his eyes.

The cave. I looked into it once and only once. It stretched off into the dark beneath the island and seemed half-flooded at the time. Mr. Wilkins always went there when he could. He said it was just to read and to be alone, though now I wonder if it wasn’t something more. I meant to check it more thoroughly after Mr. Gauvreau and Mr. Wilkins disappeared but, truthfully, tight spaces set me to panic and I could not build up the nerve. Now the storm is too severe to rally my will. When the storm breaks and my rescue arrives, perhaps I can talk them into searching the cave before we depart. Perhaps if the storm abates I will be better able to search it on my own.

November 21st, 1896

Today is the third Saturday of the month and the day my relief was scheduled to arrive, and yet this detestable storm only seems to grow! The mercury has dropped yet again and the sky is so dark I can scarce tell if it is night or day. I have plenty of supplies to keep myself whole and healthy for a while yet, especially considering it was meant to feed three mouths and not just one.

Saturdays were the one day Mr. Gauvreau would allow us to have time to ourselves. After our duties were complete, he would give us each the evening for “contemplation.” Mr. Wilkins and I found the best way to contemplate was over a game or two of cards. Those Saturday nights were a thoroughly enjoyed break from the tedium of this place. Not that I do not enjoy my work. I do. But respite is important for one’s wellbeing. Before finding our mutual love of card games, Mr. Wilkins didn’t speak much to me. I don’t think he appreciated having to train another “greenhorn” from the mainland such as myself. After that, it was keeping him quiet that became the greater challenge.

Today offered no reprieve. I awoke just before dawn to the sound of a distant bell. I ran to the top of the light to see if I could spot its source. I swear I saw the mast of a ship in the distance but just as quickly as it appeared, a wave crashed against the cliff obscuring my view and it was gone. I did not hear the bell again.

That was to be the start of a difficult day, which will likely be the first of many more difficult days. I did not notice when I first climbed the light, so distracted was I by the sight and sound of a ship, but the light had stopped turning. It appears that the winding mechanism is failing and now needs to be cranked every half hour for a minute or so to continue functioning. Now I have no choice but to sleep in the tower regardless of the damp chill of the place. I have brought several tall candles with me and have driven nails down the side of them at certain intervals. When the wax melts to that point, the nail drops into a metal dish and awakens me should I fall asleep.

It remains to be seen how well this system will work, however it is my only choice aside from copious amounts of coffee and tea. I jest, of course, as Mr. Gauvreau did not allow either of those stimulating beverages on the island. I would be lying if I said that I did not resent this, especially now given the task before me.

I am already exhausted from doing the work of three men and am getting clumsy as a result. Just this afternoon I broke the large thermometer that hangs outside the cottage while checking the temperature. My hands were cut by the glass and coated in quicksilver. I understand it is dangerous to be exposed to mercury like this but I should be fine. I picked the glass from the wound and washed my hands as best I could with the brown lye soap we have in the cottage.

My mind wanders as I write this and my hand aches in its bandages. Before I took the job here I was told stories of this place and warned against setting foot on Point Plenty. They natives called this place the Devil’s Rock and would not come here for any reason. They said it was a cairn piled atop the body of some powerful evil killed long ago and that each rock was perfectly placed to keep the evil being from rising again. If so much as one rock was out of place, the evil sealed beneath the waves could seep back into the world.

I do not believe in such things and yet I am starting to believe there is something wrong with this place. Or perhaps something is wrong with me.

November 22nd, 1896

I am sleeping, but not long enough in one go to truly rest. I barely close my eyes and settle before a cursed nail drops into the tray and alerts me. I do not dream, not really, but when I sleep the visions that swim behind my eyes are vibrant, vague, and terrifying. After breakfast I decided to check on the jetties to make sure they are ready to receive my relief the very minute this storm lets up. The main jetty is in good condition, thankfully, but the small jetty seems to have suffered the worst of the storm. I cannot fix it with the wind and waves as they are, and so must have faith that the main jetty will withstand the storm alone.

Curiously, I saw a strange glint coming from the old chapel near the small jetty. It was difficult to check it out, given that the ruins are largely collapsed on themselves and covered in thick brambles, but I managed. I am not an overly devout man, but I was nearly moved to tears at the sight of the old silver crucifix shining among the ruins. As tarnished as it was, it still clung to the wall and reflected the light from the lighthouse. The child in me thinks perhaps this is a sign that things are going to get better. The realist thinks perhaps it is just a bit of light shining on a bit of metal.

One of the cottage’s windows broke this afternoon, though I can’t understand exactly how. The glass was shattered from the inside out. I went to fetch wood to repair it but found that the supply shed’s roof had failed and much of the things stored within were a wet ruin. I spent the remainder of my day dragging what I could into the cottage but could not save everything. My body aches and does not seem to recover as it did now that sleep is elusive.

I remember now that Mr. Gauvreau was supposed to fix the roof of the supply shed last week as Mr. Wilkins had taken ill with one of his debilitating headaches. Rather than do that, he said it would be best left to Mr. Wilkins when he was able to tend to it the next day. He and Mr. Wilkins had an argument about that and nearly came to blows yet again. They stopped when they saw me coming near but not before I heard Mr. Wilkins tell Mr. Gauvreau that he was only a proponent of hard work when it was someone else doing the working. Mr. Gauvreau told Mr. Wilkins that the punishment for insubordination was the forfeiture of pay. Mr. Wilkins stormed off in one direction and Mr. Gauvreau in the other, and neither man seemed to want to speak with me at all.

Good enough. I am too tired to talk. Or to think of all the talking that could have been, rather.

November 23rd, 1896

First the mechanism stopped working as well as it had previously, and now the lamp itself has stopped turning. I wrestled a cask of mercury up the spiral stairs to the light and refilled the reservoir that the lamp sits in. The lamp began turning again, though not as smoothly as it had before. My clothes are soaked in mercury and I have to throw them away. I am wearing a pair of Mr. Gauvreau’s trousers now. I am sure he will not mind.

After the light had been tended to, I tested the foghorn for the first time since the men disappeared. Truth be told I should have done this earlier but, in my haste to do everything else, I neglected the duty. I am sure Mr. Gauvreau would have something to say about that. I would happily take a lecturing from him if it meant he could take the night shift and let me sleep.

The horn works perfectly, thankfully. The sound is low and mournful and shakes the wood beneath your feet when it cries out. It is as if the island itself is shouting a warning. But to who? And about what? I suppose about the fog but it feels more desperate than that. Like the tragedy has already happened but it still needs to make an effort to warn someone. Or maybe to report that all is lost.

The wind got stronger today. I did no think it possible. I could not sleep despite my exhaustion and so I climbed to the top of the light to look out over the black water. I thought perhaps I could see my relief ship coming despite the storm. Perhaps they know how desperate I am. When I leaned over the barrier to strain my eyes, a sudden gust shoved my back so hard I nearly toppled over the edge. I swear it felt like a pair of hands. I know you must surely thing I am mad. I would think that, too. And who could blame me.

I remember Mr. Gauvreau told me that darkness was their enemy, meaning the ships at sea, but water was ours. Everything that water touches gets worn down over time. Rocks wear away. Wood rots out from under you. Even men, it seems. The clicking of the clockwork is now accompanied by a steady drip of water coming from somewhere up in the light. I cannot find the source of the drip and thus cannot stop it. Clink. Drip Drip. Clink. Drip drip. And the constant howl of the wind.

Last night the wind was screaming around the light, screaming as if trying to rouse me from my slumber. It needn’t’ve worried – I do not sleep anymore. It sounded like Gauvreau imploring me to stand. To see to my duty. To ignore the needs of my flesh. I have seen to my duty. My flesh is numb and forgotten.

November 24th, 1896

The barometer is a liar. It mocks me with its rising mercury. The constant rain and thunder has not slowed. Has not abated. And yet the barometer shows it should have.

My nerves are frayed and raw. The wind has finally ceased its screaming but now fog covers everything like a funeral pall. I must sound the foghorn frequently but do not want to. I have wrapped my head in strips of cloth and pulled hats down over my ears but nothing stops the sound from rattling my bones. My eyes weep and my teeth chatter with every bellow. Sometimes I scream along with it. Not words, just noise. AAAAHHHH. AAAAAHHH. AAAAAHHH. It does not help.

I was sitting in the light room again today. It is the one place that comforts me. It is warm and bright. Sometimes when I look directly into the flame I can almost see something in the dazzle. Something secret and beautiful. Dangerous though. Mustn’t touch. Only look. This is my home now. The footsteps on the stairs frightened me. I do not want them to find me here. It is secret and shameful for me to look into the light like I do. I crept on my belly across the floor and looked down the stairs to see who was there.

I am alone. I must not forget that. No one is here but me. And the light.

November 25th, 1896

I hurt my mouth today. And my hands. I went to check the foghorn and tripped over the cask of mercury someone left in the middle of the floor. I landed on my wrists and face. I lost a tooth and my mouth tastes of metal now. It must have been the footsteps that left the mercury for me to trip over. Not the footsteps themselves. The owner of the footsteps. Yes, that makes sense. I have to find them and get them to stop.

I thought I saw them today. The walker on the stairs. Lighting flashed in the distance and I saw their face in a window, pale and frightened. I ran up the stairs as fast as I could. I know they cannot find me in the light. It is safe in the light. A bit of cloth blew in from somewhere and wrapped around the rail outside of the light. It is sailcloth. My stomach hurts always.

The walker on the stairs broke the light mechanism. Bastard. He jammed a dead seagull into the gears and the blood and the feathers and the meat got ground up and spread around the whole machine. Bad luck to kill a sea bird. Bad luck, Mr. Walker! I cleaned the machine as best I could. It’s turning again but it sounds like it hurts. Poor thing. Bad luck.

A wave took the lifeboat today. Strange, though, as the boat was lashed to the outside of the cottage and far away from the shore. Well, as far away as possible. I watched it float towards the waves under the cliff. A big white wave pushed it into the sky, and then another wave crushed it against the cliff. Bad luck.

November 26th, 1896

I remember a boat. Some time ago, before the others left me here to die. Or died themselves. Unimportant. I remember a boat that came to the jetty. Mr. Wilkins greeted them and then just as quickly as they arrived, they left. I asked Wilkins about it but he said they were just stopping in.

Haha. Just stopping in. Hahaha. Why were they here?

Water truly is the enemy. There is so much condensation on the inside of the light. I have spent the day wiping the glass and cranking the mechanism and wiping the glass and cranking the mechanism. The water keeps coming back. It is everywhere. Outside. Inside. It comes out of me now. From my eyes. It isn’t tears. I know it isn’t tears. I am not sad. Or happy. I am not in tears. Why the water?

Mr. Walker pushed my hand today and I spilled oil around the light. I didn’t notice until I lit a match and poof. It was so bright and so fast. It was beautiful and awful. I could not see for a few moments afterwards. Everything was so dark. I don’t like the dark. Mr. Walker does, though. He hates my light.

November 27th, 1896

I finally slept for a moment today, curled up around the base of the lamp. It is warm there. I must have slept for too long because Mr. Walker was banging on the glass when I woke up and the lamp was stopped. I got it turning again. Mr. Walker was outside the light. He looks sick. Sicker than the last time I saw him. And thin. I hate his face and I hate he is always staring at me. I wish he would disappear. Soon, the light tells me. Soon.

I went looking for more clothes in Mr. Gauvreau’s room today and found his journal. I didn’t mean to read it. It just fell open. He drew pictures in it. Pictures of the lighthouse, or of ships at sea. Pictures of me and Mr. Wilkins, too. He even had a picture of Mr. Walker towards the back. It wasn’t finished but it was clear as day who it was. No one else has eyes so black.

I also found his gun. I do not know why Mr. Gauvreau had a gun but I am glad I found it because if Mr. Walker bothers me again, I will kill him.

November 28th, 1896

I shot Mr. Walker today. I was cleaning the soot from the lamp and he was there, staring at me through the lenses. I hate his black eyes. He should not be in the light. I pulled Mr. Gauvreau’s gun and fired once. He disappeared when the bullet hit him and then the window behind him shattered. I’ll need to fix that before the relief comes. Bad luck.

Birds came out of the clouds today. Seagulls and terns and even starlings and crows. All manner of birds flocked to the light like moths. They called and squawked and sang and circled circled circled. They are too loud. I want them to go back into the storm. I cannot sleep with so many birds screaming so much.

Mr. Walker came back just before bed. It didn’t work, the bullet. He left his boots by the door so I wouldn’t hear him sneaking around but I heard him all the same. Even with the birds I heard him.

He broke my lamp. I didn’t see him to it but no one else could have. He hates my light. He broke the pump but I fixed it, Mr. Walker. I spilled too much oil fixing it, but it’s fixed now. But I can’t stay in the light room because the oil smell makes my head hurt.

Maybe that was his plan.

November 29th, 1896

He thinks he is so smart but he is not as smart as me. I spilled Mercury on the ground around and inside the tower so now I can follow his footprints wherever he goes. I am going to kill you, Mr. Walker. You cannot take the light away.

I followed the footprints up the twisting staircase and into the lantern room. The oils smell is strong but the light is bright and that makes me happy. I saw him there in the glass again, smiling. He was singing a shanty.

So help me Bob I’m bully in the alley!

Way hey bully in the alley!

Help me Bob I’m bully in the alley!

Bully down the shinbone, al!

He was laughing and singing and I smiled, too. And he smiled. And then I remembered that I hated him and that he shouldn’t be here. He has to go. The bullets don’t work but he hates the light. He hates me because I love the light. The light will stop him.

USS Ignis Fatuus Log

Evening of August 3rd, 1907

We have just returned aboard after searching through the destruction at Point Plenty. The lighthouse is a total loss, apparently claimed by some great conflagration. Whether caused by lighting, accident, or negligence on the part of the keepers, I cannot say. The keeper’s journal was recovered from the cabin though I have not yet had the opportunity to read it.

Of the keepers little can be said. two keepers were stationed on the island but none were found despite a thorough search. The island’s own row boat is nowhere to be seen, so perhaps they made some attempt at escape and were lost at sea. Some of my men want to return in the morning to do a final sweep of the island but I fear the weather will not hold out long enough to allow for that. Given that there is no light to keep, I am returning to the mainland with the would-be relief wickies aboard still. We will make all due haste as the sky is threatening and the mercury is dropping fast.

Though a lighthouse has stood on Point Plenty for the better part of a century, it is my suggestion that we do not spend the resources rebuilding and manning the place. The commercial importance of the shoals is much reduced and the waters are much less traveled than they were in previous decades.

Perhaps in a few weeks we shall return to the island for a further exploration but, in the meantime. We will report back to the families that the men were lost so that they can begin to mourn, as we all must.

Truth be told, I will be glad to not return to Point Plenty. It has been harder and harder to find willing keepers to serve there ever since young Tabor went mad those ten or so years back and killed his fellow keepers before disappearing. Folks say the place is cursed, though as a military man I am reluctant to give any credence to such metaphysical nonsense. Shame about the lighthouse, though. It was beautiful, in its way.

-Captain Alfred King, US Navy

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