It was so stormy the lighthouse fell over. Luckily the lights stayed on and thanks to the way it laid on the jetty ships could still sort of see it over the waves now and then, depending on distance as more of a glow than piercing golden beam but enough to warn them in a safe direction if they knew what they were looking for, so there were no shipwrecks in the area that night. The lighthousekeeper was not so lucky. He lay draped over his bedframe amidst scattered chess pieces, bleeding from a cut over his eye where he’d hit his head on a king, one with a crown with a sharp cross on top. He would have sat up, shook his head to clear it and began making plans to deal with his catastrophic situation, except a space spider alien squid (giganticus) stuck a tentacle through a (broken) window and dragged the lighthousekeeper to the bottom of the sea, where a shining city lay spread out on the seabed.
There was air inside so he could breathe.
There was light, also, because the walls – made of ships and plastic refuse – glowed with an eerie bioluminescence. Because it was at the bottom of the sea, air pressure was high, which gave him a headache like a migraine announcing itself but otherwise it was okay.
Immediately he began exploring, looking for an exit. The air had a fishy smell, but oxygen is oxygen, beggars can’t be choosers.
“Hallo?” he said, in sort of a careful shout, and not “hello” because he was a European lighthousekeeper, not an American one, as far as he knew, all American lighthouses had been automated. In fact, strictly speaking, he was a writer, rather than a professional lighthousekeeper and had sought the job thinking it would give him time and solitude to reflect and write.
What a mistake. He reflected on how his first impulse in this squid-made city had been escape. He resolved to explore, instead, maybe he’d be able to write about this. No! No! Maybe he’d be able to experience this for once, he thought. Here, in this fishy place at the seabed, he finally opened his eyes to his existence.
Someone cleared their throat behind him and he screamed like a girl. He was embarrassed. A woman dressed as a magician’s assistant held her hands up. “Sorry! I didn’t want to scare you!” The lighthousekeeper introduced himself. “What is this place?”
The woman shrugged. “I’m Winona. I was working on a cruise ship that went down. It’s over there.” She pointed.
The lighthousekeeper thought he saw what she was pointing at. “Are there other survivors?”
“Not from my ship. One per catastrophe,” she said.
“I was going to explore. Come with me?”
Winona shrugged. “For a while. Avoid the horror of the abyss, though.”
“That’s what I call it,” she said. “Everyone who gazes upon it goes mad because their minds are overwhelmed by what they see.”
“Here, try this on.” She gave him a top hat.
It was a little big, but he had a match book in his pocket and when he put that inside the hat band it fit fine.
You have given me my first smile today.