The lighthouse had stood on the Witaker’s Point for more than a century. Being kept by the same family through the years, generation after generation. Now, it was Kelmit’s turn to stand as Lighthouse Keeper. He climbed the stairs inside the old building, stopping at the door to his apartment one floor before the light. His father, Jonas, spent thirty years of his life ignoring his family and taking care of the lighthouse and all but forsaking his family. His mother, Katherine, raised him and his two younger sisters, Annabell and Diane, without help.
Kelmit looked up at a painting on the wall over the window. His heart clenched for a moment at the sight of the last family portrait he had from his childhood. He didn’t hate his father, just wondered why the man had loved a job more than his family. Now, the sun was close to setting and Kelmit was about to go on duty as the lighthouse keeper. Grabbing a thermos of coffee, he slipped his feet into a pair of fuzzy slippers and walked upstairs.
Going past the little office and into the light chamber. A flip of a switch and things were blinding bright as the lighthouse flashed on, cutting through the dim light. He checked the glasses as he moved around the top of the lighthouse. Everything was as it should be. He went back downstairs and turned on the television to the local news channel. He kept it at a low volume as he moved around the room, settling in for the night.
The first half of the night passed without incident. However, at about one thirty that morning, strange events began. The first thing he noticed was the storm rolling in. In the decades he had spent with his father in the lighthouse and working himself as the keeper, he had never seen a storm roll in so fast. The sky darkened as the rain slashed at the stone walls of the lighthouse. Lightning cracked, and the thunder was near deafening. Kelmit yanked the little windows closed, locking them. Not that he figured it was going to do much good. The fury of the storm was likely to smash every window in the place. He stood in the center of his living space, trying to fathom what was happening, when a pounding echoed up from the lower floors.
Thinking it was someone trapped out in the storm, he raced down and yanked open the door without hesitation. Standing in the storm was a woman dressed in a flowing black dress and impossibly high heels. Kelmit stepped back, motioning her inside as he didn’t think she could hear his words over the noise of the storm. Once she was inside, he pushed the door shut and locked it, hoping it like the windows would outlast the rage of the storm. He led her upstairs into his living quarters with the thought of offering her something warm to drink and a chance to dry off.
She remained silent as they climbed. At the top of the stairs, she paused outside the door. Turning to him, she spoke with a voice that seemed much older than she looked. “Thank you for giving me shelter in this storm,” she said.
Her voice tugged at memories tucked into the far recesses of his mind. They were just out of reach, but there. “It’s the least I can do. I wouldn’t want to be stuck out in that,” he said, glancing out the window. The darkness was so complete, all he could see was his reflection.
“It is nasty out there. Do you mind if I sit for a spell next to the heater? I am awfully damp,” she said, in that same haunting voice.
He walked over and pulled a thick robe from a hook on the wall. “There’s a screen over there. Why don’t you slip out of those wet things and into this. I can see about getting that dress dry and warm for you.” He offered her the robe with a nod to an area screened off by Old Japanese rice paper screens.
She gave him a nod and took the robe. He watched her walk across the room, only barely noticing that even as wet as she was, she left no trail of water behind her. This struck him as odd, but he pushed the thoughts away as a crack of thunder seemed to shake the entire lighthouse. “Damn.” the word popped out without warning. He felt himself blush and apologised. “Forgive the language.”
Her voice drifted out from behind the screens. “It’s not a problem, your father was much worse with the language.”
He stopped fiddling with the edge of the table and blinked. “You knew my father?” he asked.
She stepped out, holding her dress and shoes while wrapped in the robe. “Of course. I’ve known all the keepers here.” She held out the dress, and he took it with shaking fingers. Her lips curved in a sugary smile. “No need to worry. I am harmless. Just like to check on the keepers when the rage storm hits,” she said, standing in front of the window.
This time, Kelmit’s mind registered the lack of reflection behind her. “You. You aren’t human?” he stumbled over the words.
Her eyes darkened to near black. “No, I’m not. I haven’t been human in over six centuries.” She glanced behind her at the window. “Sorry about that. If you don’t know, it can be frightening.”
He cleared his throat. “Not frightening. More surprising. I didn’t think there were vampires in the area,” he said, his voice calm and clear. After the initial shock of not seeing her reflection, he had known what she was. What he didn’t know was what she was doing there, faking being wet and cold. He did the only thing he could think of – he asked. “Why are you pretending to be wet?”
She laughed, a silky sound that brought up thoughts of darkened bedrooms and passionate nights. “Oh, I’m not pretending. I was indeed wet, as was my dress. I just choose to not soak your home.”
He reached and took the dress from her outstretched hand. It was indeed wet and should have been dripping water onto his floors, but somehow it didn’t. “Thank you for that.” he moved over and laid the dress over the back of the chair in front of the heater. “It shouldn’t take long to dry. Would you like something to drink while you wait?” he asked, deciding to treat her as he would any other guest. Had she wanted to kill him, she would have already done so.
“Thank you. I would very much. If you are anything like your father, I am betting there is a bottle of brandy tucked into the far cabinet.”
He nodded, moving to pour two glasses, and offered her one. “Sit. We can talk while we wait. Maybe you can explain how you came to be in the area.” he said, nodding toward a cosy seating arrangement on the other side of the room.
She slipped – almost floating – across the room and settled into one of the leather chairs. “I would love to tell you the story, in exchange for an update on how your father is getting along now that you have taken over.”
He sat across from her. It looked to be a much more interesting evening that it started out to be.