This is only one of several stories as part of a Storytime Blog Hop. Want to read more?Links are at the bottom!
Friends of the Deep by G.Craddock
The keeping of a lighthouse is an almost sacred duty. The rotating beam of light the only thing between passing ships and terrible ends.
Charlotte knew this and took great pride in her duties. Which was why she was currently agitated.
A ship was approaching. This was not a problem, in itself. The problem was that the ship had not yet noticed the lighthouse.
Or the sleeping sea monster.
Tonight, it had wrapped itself around her tower. The in and out of its breath vibrating through the stone, making the tower feel alive.
Charlotte turned the knob on the main lamp. The flame burned brighter with the increase in fuel, consuming greedily. The gauge dropped to empty.
The ship kept coming. A thing of metal and rivets, it strode towards the lighthouse across the ocean, a pipe billowing steam behind like a flag.
Down the stairs Charlotte went, two at a time, spinning around the ribs of the tower. The cat followed like an opportunistic shadow.
The oil was kept in the stone bottom of the lighthouse. Safely away from weather and wood.
She grabbed a can, balanced it against her chest, and round and round Charlotte went, back up the stairs to the lamp.
A peek out the window showed that the ship was still unheeding of light or sea monster.
The cap of the can came off with practiced ease. A management approved squat and lift aligned the can and the lamps well.
The lighthouse vibrated as the sea monster exhaled. Charlotte staggered with the force of it, spilling oil across the lamp and the wooden floors.
Steadying herself, she slopped what was left inside and dropped the empty can.
Her hands fumbled at her coat pockets for her lighter.
It was the third pocket she checked.
The lighter ignited with a click. Charlotte grinned at the flame and tripped over the cat.
She threw her hands out to catch herself, her nose brushing the ground. The lighter skidding across the floor.
Indignant, the cat leapt onto the lamp’s platform. Which was fortunate timing, as it was at this point that the floor caught fire.
Charlotte screamed. She dove for the lighter. The flames dancing in the oil burnt her hand as she snatched it from the floor.
A leap that singed the bottom of her oil-skin coat, and she was perched beside the cat.
“Shit! Shit! Shit!” she said, clicking the lighter.
Beside her the cat yowled. A sound that went straight to the nerves and twanged them.
The lamp wick caught. The light grew bright again as she turned the valve up, and up and up.
“Yes! Yes! Yes!” she shouted, gleeful at a minor success in a night lacking in luck.
It was at this point that she felt fire tickling the sides of the lamps platform.
Jamming her lighter back into a pocket, Charlotte scooped up the cat and looked around, assessing her options.
The window winked back at her.
“Hang on, cat, we’re getting out of here.”
Charlotte leapt, landing on the tiny window ledge, as the oil can popped from heat on the other side of the tower.
The coils around the lighthouse started to slide as it came to the dozing sea monster’s attention that it was now wrapped around something uncomfortably warm.
Charlotte rocked on the ledge, looking between the inferno inside of the tower, the sliding scales that edged the window, and the long drop below.
“Oh, bugger it.” Clutching the cat tight, she stepped off the ledge and onto the coils.
The foolishness of this choice became apparent as her feet began to slide out from under her. The scales were slick with sea spray, making the sea monster a living slippery slide.
Feet going skyward, she landed on her back, and began to slide down the sea monster.
Spines jutted from its back, and she managed to wrap herself around one like a baby koala, rain dripping down her face, and her arms shaking.
Out on the ocean, the ship was still coming. A speck of light in a black expanse.
The sea monster rose, coils spinning as it pulled itself upright, the ground moving further and further away from Charlotte at a dizzying speed.
“Little Keeper?” Came a rumble that sounded like storms, and that she could feel under her fingers.
“Yes?” She squeaked.
The head of the sea monster twisted around so that it could look her in the eye. “Why is the lighthouse on fire?”
“A ship is coming. I was trying to warn it away. I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“I hope it worked.” The sea monster said.
“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t laugh at me! And no, it didn’t.”
The sea monster chuckled and bent its head. A careful jump later and Charlotte settled between its great horns, feeling far safer.
“I’ll see what I can do, Little Keeper.”
The sea monster twisted again, and with a continent shifting nudge, gently knocked the ship away from the lighthouse, back out into the relative safety of the open ocean. The sailors on the deck staring open mouthed as they drifted away.
“Thank you.” Charlotte said.
“My pleasure, Little Keeper.”
A roll of a coil caused a wave so large that it washed over the lighthouse with ease, dousing the flames.
Charlotte, still holding the cat, was deposited inside the dripping tower.
“Now, Little Keeper, I am going back to my rest.”
Charlotte put the cat down and saluted the sea monster, “Sleep well.”
The sea monster chuckled, and with the slow loops of a dozy snake, wrapped itself back around the lighthouse. A moment, and the stone began to vibrate with its snores.
The cat jumped up onto the scorched lamp platform and started to lick itself.
Past the cat, and out the window, another ship could be seen on the horizon.
Charlotte sighed and began to trudge back down to the oil storage.
This story was written by G.Craddock for the quarterly blog hop. Find G.Craddock at – https://www.instagram.com/gjcraddock/
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3.Friends Of The Deep by G. Craddock<–YOU ARE HERE