The night was wet with sea spray.
Mickey could hear the whitecaps breaking against the rocky shore line and watched as they used the rocks as a ramp to meet the stars, both competing for most iridescent object in his view.
The moon shone down on it all, creating a glimmering pathway across the harbor, leading directly towards the ledge that housed the lighthouse.
The scene was, he begrudgingly admitted to himself, captivating. He could almost see why his brother had become enamored with it all and had decided to settle down here.
Mickey and his brother Neil had always been close, emotionally and in proximity.
It was a shock when Neil left the family cattle business in Texas last year to become, of all things, a lighthouse keeper.
Mickey could not wrap his head around why Neil had wanted to trade everything they had for such a solitary existence in a place that felt as though it was always about to freeze over.
Mickey was sure the only thing that saved them from the constant threat of frost was the unrelenting sea, currently kissing his lips gently with its salt.
Not only had Neil seemingly abandoned his family, he had also chosen to revert back to a simpler lifestyle.
He had renounced any and all technology that was not directly related to the lighthouse, which meant the only way to contact him was snail mail or short range CB radio.
Reluctantly, Mickey accepted his brother’s life changes and dutifully wrote, by hand, as he often noted angrily, weekly letters and Neil always wrote back immediately.
But for the past two months, there had been no reply and the last letter was returned, stamped with an aggressive ‘return to sender’.
The words had immediately sent chills down Mickey’s spine and without any hesitation, he booked a flight straight into Cutler for the following day.
Now here he was, staring from afar at the lighthouse his brother called home.
The beacon in the lighthouse swirled, a mechanical whirling dervish cutting through the growing fog to warn seamen of the shore,
but the small house standing beside it seemed a black hole in comparison, devouring all the light from its surroundings.
The sight made him more than uneasy, but he began his ascension towards the tip of the ledge anyway.
The path to the lighthouse was heavily wooded and woefully unkempt, making the trek up arduous.
He couldn’t help but think of Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken’ as his foot falls were silenced by the thick underbrush, leaving no trace that he had ever wandered here.
Though he supposed that was the way of untamed nature, it simply gobbled all signs of man up.
He finally reached a wood and chicken wire fence.
When the beacon from the lighthouse came around this way, he could make out the side of a small chicken coup standing alone in a patch of cleared land in front of the main entry to the house.
The chicken coup looked like the newest piece of construction here. Seems Neil hadn’t given up everything from his old life, afterall.
The gate creaked slightly as he unlatched it and pushed it open. It got stuck about halfway; it hadn’t been attached properly and was hanging off its southern engineered top hinge.
Mickey swallowed the urge to fix it, and continued walking to the house.
Without the underbrush to cushion his large feet, his steps began to echo across the yard, imitating his controlled heartbeat.
Dread crept up into his throat as his hand touched the plastic door handle of the screened front door. The wooden one behind it had been left ajar.
There was a small hole in the bottom left corner of the top part of the screen near the handle, but he paid no mind. Small tears happened all the time.
He expected to find resistance, the sensation of a locked door, as he pushed the button on the handle to release it from the threshold,
but it opened with the ease of cutting room temperature butter.
The house was quaint and furnished sparingly. That had always been his brother’s way, minimalism. The air smelled of stale bread and warm PBR.
A few of the empty cans littered the floor in the living room.
The wood underneath the cans was ever so slightly warped, signaling that more beer than Mickey would have allowed to spill, had spilled from them and worse, had been left indefinitely.
A striped, pink box sat, half opened on the coffee table. The lid read ‘Nana’s Turkish Delight.
’ He flipped the lid open and was met with a foul, rotting smell, vaguely reminding him of beef that had been left in the freezer for too long but that someone just had to try and cook.
Perhaps the turkish delight had been delicious when it was purchased, but now it had clearly turned. It was a red/gray color, starting to ooze out of its cubed shape.
The light from the lighthouse occasionally flooded into the house from the kitchen, allowing Mickey to see a few family photos Neil had hung above the mantel.
He moved closer to them, smirking slightly when he saw his brother’s smiling face next to his own, the two of them battered and bruised from a time when bull riding was in their repertoire.
Both of them had been terrible, but they loved the thrill. Once at a competition, when Neil had done a particularly piss poor job at staying on the bull’s back, a measly 0.
025 seconds, barely enough time to make it out the gate, Mickey had found a tacky, golden longhorn necklace at a vendor booth.
He had immediately purchased it with the intention of it being a glowing ‘haha, you suck at bull riding’ reminder, but of course, Neil being ever the optimist, took it as a ‘well,
you tried your best’, and fell in love with it. In the pictures above his mantel, the necklace was gleaming around Neil’s neck.
Faint whispers wafted through the house suddenly and shocked Mickey from his daydream. He froze, trying to decipher what was being said and where it was coming from.
“Mìdjin Ininì...Mìdjin Ininì...Mìdjin Ininì....” the unintelligible chanting was punctured by a loud crash coming from the opposite end of the house and creaking foot steps coming down the pitch black hall towards where Mickey stood, an open target, in the living room.