Marianas Variety

Last updateThu, 21 Nov 2019 12am

Headlines:

     

     

     

     

     

    Wednesday, November 20, 2019-3:10:57P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

Font Size

Settings

BC’s Tales of the Pacific | The Fog Horn, part 4

“LET’S see what happens,” said McDunn.

He switched the Fog Horn off. The monster stopped and froze. Its great lantern eyes blinked. Its mouth gaped. It gave a sort of rumble, like a volcano. It twitched its head this way and that, as if to seek the sounds now dwindled off into the fog. It peered at the lighthouse. It rumbled again. Then its eyes caught fire. It reared up, threshed the water, and rushed at the tower, its eyes filled with angry torment.

“McDunn!” I cried. “Switch on the horn!” McDunn fumbled with the switch. But even as he flicked it on, the monster was rearing up. I had a glimpse of its gigantic paws, fishskin glittering in webs between the fingerlike projections, clawing at the tower. The huge eye on the right side of its anguished head glittered before me like a caldron into which I might drop, screaming. The tower shook. The Fog Horn cried; the monster cried. It seized the tower and gnashed at the glass, which shattered in upon us.

McDunn seized my arm. “Downstairs!” The tower rocked, trembled, and started to give. The Fog Horn and the monster roared. We stumbled and half fell down the stairs. “Quick!” We reached the bottom as the tower buckled down toward us. We ducked under the stairs into the small stone cellar. There were a thousand concussions as the rocks rained down; the Fog Horn stopped abruptly. The monster crashed upon the tower. The tower fell. We knelt together, McDunn and I, holding tight, while our world exploded. Then it was over, and there was nothing but darkness and the wash of the sea on the raw stones. That and the other sound.

“Listen,” said McDunn quietly. “Listen.” We waited a moment. And then I began to hear it. First a great vacuumed sucking of air, and then the lament, the bewilderment, the loneliness of the great monster, folded over and upon us, above us, so that the sickening reek of its body filled the air, a stone’s thickness away from our cellar. The monster gasped and cried. The tower was gone. The light was gone. The thing that had called to it across a million years was gone. And the monster was opening its mouth and sending out great sounds. The sounds of a Fog Horn, again and again. And ships far at sea, not finding the light, not seeing anything, but passing and hearing late that night, must’ve thought: ‘There it is, the lonely sound, the Lonesome Bay horn. All’s well. We’ve rounded the cape.’ And so it went for the rest of that night.

The next year they built a new lighthouse, but by that time I had a job in the little town and a wife and a good small warm house that glowed yellow on autumn nights, the doors locked, the chimney puffing smoke. As for McDunn, he was master of the new lighthouse, built to his own specifications, out of steel-reinforced concrete. “Just in case,” he said. The new lighthouse was ready in November. I drove down alone one evening late and parked my car and looked across the gray waters and listened to the new home sounding, once, twice, three, four times a minute far out there, by itself. The monster? It never came back.

“It’s gone away,” said McDunn. “It’s gone back to the Deeps. It’s learned you can’t love anything too much in this world. It’s gone into the deepest Deeps to wait another million years. Ah, the poor thing!” I sat in my car, listening. I couldn’t see the lighthouse or the light standing out in Lonesome Bay. I could only hear the Horn, the Horn, the Horn. It sounded like the monster calling. I sat there wishing there was something I could say.

The end

BC Cook, PhD taught history for over twenty years. He lived on Saipan and travels the Pacific but currently lives on the mainland.