The Lighthouse- Part One
*** Disclaimer: This story is based on the St. Augustine Lighthouse. This story is not affiliated with the lighthouse or staff. ***
Alice tried to take in the sights as they drove into the historical town. The Victorian buildings were intricate in design and gothic in nature. Grace snapped pictures beside her and commented about the old buildings. Alice couldn’t stop the grin on her face. It was likely the most haunted in Florida. Death swirled around the place like the wind from the bay. If they were to find any ghosts, it would be here.
“Look at that!” Grace exclaimed as they drove by the historical house. On a green sign, large white letters advertised the Oldest House in the city.
“Should we go in?” Alice asked as Grace snapped a few pictures from the car window.
“Yeah! I love historical places,” Grace said as she snapped another picture with her cell phone.
“Try to save some battery for ghost hunting tonight,” Alice said.
Grace rolled her eyes and snapped another couple of pictures.
They parked and paid to enter the small house. The guide escorted them around the chipped and faded structure. Grace’s curiosity got the better of her as she darted around the room. Alice took a few pictures and walked outside. Beyond the doorway stood beside a set of statues. Each stone maiden held a bouquet to symbolize a season. Alice glanced at them before she took out her phone. She searched the internet about the house. They were in the Oldest House in the United States. There had to be ghosts. Old houses always had ghosts. The guide walked towards Alice as Grace meandered about inside. He looked down at her phone and scoffed. Alice’s heart jumped to her throat, and looked up to the guide.
“You won’t find any ghosts here. Although it is the Oldest House, it’s not haunted,” he said.
Grace laughed and stuck her head outside one of the windows. “She’s determined to find a ghost.” Grace rolled her eyes and took a picture of the crumbling stone fireplace.
The guide nodded and looked back at Alice. “Have you heard about the lighthouse? There’ve been plenty of reports of unexplained happenings there.”
“Do you know anything about it?” Alice asked, excitement bubbling up in her chest.
“According to history, several children and lighthouse keepers have died on the grounds.” He shook his head. “The children played on the construction site and fell into the water under a heavy cart. They never stood a chance and drowned. The accident was so very unfortunate.”
Alice’s heart ached as she thought about the children trapped beneath the cart. She could only imagine how they felt as they tried to lift the cart off themselves. “That’s such a shame,” Alice said.
“Doesn’t tragic death create ghost activity? You rambled about that on the drive here,” Grace said. She walked into a storage room and snapped a few pictures or a set of pinecones piled in a basket.
Instead of waiting for Alice’s response, she turned to the guide. “What’s with the pinecones in baskets?” Grace asked.
“When they used the fireplace, they would toss in pinecones. The pinecones were added for the scent they give off.” He said and then turned to Alice. “I wouldn’t explore the lighthouse. It isn’t something that you should play with.”
Grace walked to a window and gazed out at the sky. Alice followed behind her. The sun had begun its descent towards the horizon. The breeze beyond the walls that surrounded the Oldest House smelled of the sea. It was as if a wave of excitement washed over Alice. “We better get going. That is if we want to make it to the lighthouse before dark.” Alice said with a smile.
Grace and Alice moved back to the car and started their drive over. As Alice drove, Grace pulled up information on the lighthouse. “It’s said that the children’s names are Sally, Reagan, and Elliot. They were ten, eight, and seven when they drowned. That’s too young to meet such an end,” Grace muttered.
Alice nodded. In the distance, the lighthouse peaked from over the trees. “That’s a tragedy that would spark paranormal activity,” Alice added.
“I’m not thinking of activity. I am thinking about how young they were… that’s not it either. There was a man that fell from the lighthouse. A lighthouse keeper hung themselves in the basement. That’s a lot of people for one place,” Grace summarized.
Alice frowned as she categorized the deaths mentally. “Sounds like you’re about to be wrong about ghosts tonight!” Alice laughed as she flipped her blonde hair over her shoulder.
Grace cast a skeptical look. “We’ve been over this before. Ghosts don’t exist. We’re going to visit a lighthouse at night, that’s it. While you’re talking to nothing but air, I’ll be enjoying the lighthouse.”
Alice shook her head and looked up at the ominous lighthouse. In the fading sunlight, the black and white paint took on more of a sinister tone than whimsical. Her thoughts went to childhood. She had grown up in a haunted house. Items moved, footsteps heard when no one was home, and doors would slam. She and her family did everything to debunk the strange occurrences to no avail. She shook her head and looked away from the lighthouse. Years of watching ghost videos and arguments had led them here. Whatever happened tonight, Alice would prove to Grace that ghosts existed.
They pulled into the gravel parking lot. The tires crunched on the stones as they put the car into park. Alice could feel a nervous thrill run through her as she stepped out. In the wind, a faded sent of magnolia reached her—the dark lighthouse keeper’s house and the lighthouse towered over them. Darkness greeted them from the windows. Only one light remained on. From the window above the front door, Alice could see a red light. She nudged Grace and pointed.
“That red light is creepy, isn’t it?” Alice asked with a smile. Her grin and joke felt like a mask that she put on. Inwardly, she tried to build up the courage. Perhaps having Grace read up on all the death that occurred on the property wasn’t the best idea.
“It’s probably an exit sign. Don’t tell me you are going to be this jumpy. Everything is explainable,” Grace laughed as she walked back towards the visitor center.
Alice swallowed hard and followed. The crunch of the gravel beneath her shoes was the only sound in dark twilight.
The visitor center was more of a gift shop. Trinkets and baubles lined the walls for tourists to purchase. Books, tee-shirts, and magnets filled the space. Grace stopped to look at a shirt as Alice approached the woman at the counter.
“We’re here for the ghost tour. Any spots left?” Alice asked with a smile.
The woman behind the counter smiled back. “Yes, you are here just in time. This is an investigation only event. There is only one other couple here this evening. So, you should be by yourself.” She explained.
“That makes sense,” Alice nodded in understanding.
A man came from a back room and handed them each a green glow stick. “These will be your lights for the evening. Feel free to explore the grounds and have fun,” he said.
Alice blinked in shock.
“Aren’t you the guide at the Oldest House?” Grace asked as she tied the glow stick around her neck.
“I have two jobs. You two caught me as my shift ended,” he said with a shrug and a smile.
“But you said that you wouldn’t explore the lighthouse,” Alice said as her brows furrowed.
The woman behind the counter laughed. “Are you scaring potential guests again, Frank?” she asked.
“A man has to pay his bills. I won’t explore that lighthouse day or night! Best of luck, girls,” he said with a wave.
Grace couldn’t help but grin as she looked at Alice. “Are you ready to catch some ghosties?” she taunted and cracked the glow stick.
Alice put on a brave face and smiled back. “You know it!” she cracked the glow stick and walked out of the shop into the darkened path.
Beside her, Grace looked up between the dark silhouettes of the trees. The lighthouse stretched towards the sky like the finger of God.
“That is a tall lighthouse. It’s going to be a bitch to climb…makes you regret all those snacks we had on the drive down here, doesn’t?” Alice laughed as she walked down the darkened path towards the lighthouse.
Grace followed and pulled out her phone. “According to the website, it has two-hundred and nineteen steps. That doesn’t sound that awful,” Grace said as they stepped into the main courtyard.
The lighthouse keeper’s house stood to their back as they stared up at the lighthouse. Alice took Grace’s phone and groaned. “That is the equivalent to fourteen stories,” she passed the phone back and pointed behind her. “Let’s start in the house. At least there’s AC.”
Grace nodded. Might as well cool off before they tackle the lighthouse. The night, warm and humid. Even with her red hair pulled up, she felt sticky. The warm breeze did nothing to help the situation either. She wondered if it was going to rain before their investigation was over.
They walked the white steps into the lighthouse keeper’s house and pulled open the heavy back door. It creaked and opened to a hallway lined with a blue and white checkerboard design. Grace looked over their heads and pointed at the illuminated exit sign. It cast the hall in a red hue. Alice laughed and shook her head. Aside from the red exit sign, the adjoining rooms were pitch black. Alice looked down at her tiny glow stick and back to Grace.
“Well, off you go, Miss Skeptic,” Alice nudged Grace towards a side room. The darkness of the room refused to give way to any light.
Grace arched her brow. “I’m not going into a dark room first. You’re the one that wanted to do this!” Grace exclaimed, giving Alice a nudge.
Alice started in the darkroom. She took a breath to still her jittery nerves. Her heart fluttered to a nervous beat that Alice was not familiar with as she started in the room. The thought of entering the darkroom first filled her with dread. She took another breath and laced her arm through Grace’s. “We go together then,” She said with as much courage as she could muster. Taking the first step, she pulled Grace beside her. With a fearful step, they entered the room.