A Light Across the Water
By Jeff Baker
The light of dusk was visible through the windows. The shadows seemed to creep up the stone walls of the cylinder of the great lighthouse on the coast as we set up the table on the ground floor in the middle of the room. Carl tapped the circular staircase with a finger. The metallic “Ping” echoed through the lighthouse.
“Better answer the door,” he said, grinning. “Ghosts calling!”
“Oh, will you shut up and let’s just do this,” Naomi said. She was placing the cardboard box on the table and pulling off the top which she tossed to one side on the floor. She pulled out the carved wooden board and set it on the table. She took one more item out of the box and tossed it aside. The item was a planchette.
“Looks like a guitar pick.” Carl said.
“Better be serious about this,” said the tall man standing by the table. “If this is gonna work, we better be serious.”
“We’re serious, Barrett, believe me,” Carl said.
“Turn off the flashlight and light the candles,” Naomi said.
Soon the three twenty-somethings were seated at the table, hands touching the planchette on the spirit board, candles flickering.
“We are here,” Naomi spoke into the darkness of the lighthouse, “to speak with the spirit of Captain Rolland Cross…Gone for one-hundred-forty years, since the sinking of the Macaroon a few miles from here…”
She paused. The lighthouse was full of the dark, full of the quiet. They could almost hear the candles flicker. They all knew about Captain Cross and the lost treasure of the Macaroon. The ship had sunk just off the coast, the coast they had grown up near. But in the near century-and-a-half, no one had found the ship or the treasure.
No one was even sure what the treasure was, although most people speculated gold. Captain Cross had taken that secret down with him. It was long speculated that he had sunk his own ship in the storm to protect whatever it was.
“Captain Cross,” Naomi said. “If you are there, please speak to us.”
Barrett bit his lip, so as not to yell. The planchette under their fingers was moving. From one letter to the next.
“A,” whispered Naomi, following the revelation of the letters. “J.” “A. A again. A again.” The planchette lay there, seemingly inert.
“Ajaaa,” Carl said. “What’s that?”
“Ajaaa,” Naomi said. “Ajaaa. What does that mean, Captain Cross?”
The planchette moved swiftly under their fingers, first pointing to Naomi, then to Carl and then swiftly, maddeningly it flew out from under their fingers and pointed at Barrett.
“What the hell?” Carl said.
“It…it popped out from our fingers,” Barrett said. “We were pressing down so hard.”
“It means something,” Carl said. “What?”
“That word, the one it spelled out,” Naomi said. Maybe we all are supposed to say it?”
The three of them looked at each other and began to recite.
“Ajaaa. Ajaaa. Ajaaa. Ajaaa.”
There was a bright light from the top of the lighthouse. Their voices drifted off as the light began to pulse in time with their chanting. They stared at each other; the light had been removed decades ago when the new beacon had been installed across the bay.
The lighthouse became cold. The blazing, pulsing light began to spiral downward. The shadows began to dance.