The thunder started slowly, almost quietly, building from the near subsonic rumble to a rolling avalanche of
sound. The clouds gathered forces, piling upon each other into thick mountains of atmosphere, not allowing even a sliver of moonlight to pass through. Even the lightning could not fully break through the curtain, showing only as haloed orbs that flashed then died. The wind that had played so hard against the ferry, had suddenly gone still, and it seemed the whole island had taken a deep breath, and was holding it in anticipation.
“That’s gonna be one mean storm,” Nettie said, breaking the silence. “Are you sure you don’t’ want to ride it out with us in the store? There’s plenty of room. Lights are still on here.”
Logan tore his gaze away from the darkened lighthouse, only visible as a dark silhouette against the occasional flashes in the clouds. “No, Nettie, thank you. I think I’d better get home. There’s a generator.”
She offered no further protest, though her grip on his elbow tightened slightly. “Does your generator have enough gas?”
He gave her hand a reassuring pat. “It does. I promise.”
A sudden crack of thunder, accompanied by a sizzling bolt of lightning broke through the clouds. The air was filled with the smell of decaying ozone.
“I’d better hurry.”
“Go! Logan, please be careful and let me know when you get home.”
He smiled. “Yes, mum.”
“Don’t mock. I worry.”
“Thank you for worrying, but I’ll be fine. I’ll give you a ring when I get there.”
“If your phone is up. . . Logan, please? Come inside, just until—what’s that?” She put her hand toward his breast pocket, then pulled back. “Sorry, I thought I saw… ”
“Do you have a new cell phone? Your pocket is— was— glowing. One of those that just lights up instead of ringing?”
He put his hand instinctively over his pocket and felt the little box still tucked safely inside. “Uh. Yes.” He peaked into his pocket, he saw no glow, though he had no doubt Nettie probably did. “It’s stopped now. Probably just needs to charge. . .it does that when the batteries are low.”
“Well I hope it lasts long enough for you to let me know when you get home. Go on before it starts raining.”
He gave her a nod, and pulled the jacket closed. “Take care, Nettie. Go pull your shutters, I think you’ll need them.”
She waved, and went into the store, watching him from the screen door.
Logan did not, as a rule, enjoy running. He avoided it at all opportunity, but he could not have forced himself to walk up the lane to his cottage even if the weather was lovely and sunny, though it wasn’t the storm that urged his haste, but the warmth emanating from his pocket. He had to get it home, and get it safe, and he had to do it fast, before it decided to break out on its own.
The first drops of rain wet his face just as he passed through his gate. He’d made it to the front door, and managed to get inside, just as the bottom fell out of the clouds, and the rain poured down almost in one piece.
The storm moved in hard, shaking the windows, and rattling the crockery that lined his kitchen shelves. Logan was at home in the darkened cottage, and took his time about lighting the hurricane oil lamp he kept on the window. There was no need for it, really. The box, though still tucked inside his jacket, was glowing again, and provided him enough light to navigate the room easily between lightning flashes.
Logan removed took the box from his coat, shielding his eyes from the light. “Not yet! It’s not time!”
He set it on the table in the middle of the room, then tore open the door to the broom closet. He began rifling through the contents, tossing boxes and bags, brooms and buckets out into the room until he found what he wanted: a plain looking wooden box with small bronze hinges and a tiny lock shaped like a spade.
The light filled the room illuminating corners that even the sun had never shown in. Logan made a mental note to clean more often. “Calm down! I’m hurrying.”
A small key no bigger than his thumbnail, dangled from the light chain in the middle of the room. He smiled in spite of his urgency that such an important little trinket should be so haphazardly kept in plain view. He took the key and fumbled with the little lock until it sprang open.
The glow dimmed a bit. “Yes, I know it is disappointing for you, but please, I promise it won’t be long.”
He picked up the little box and carefully placed it inside the bigger wooden box, and carefully closed the lid.
The darkness was complete as soon as the lid was closed. With the darkness came a silence that overwhelmed him. “It won’t be long,” he whispered.
In the same instant, a boom of thunder poured through the cottage. Lightning replaced the glow, and the wind pummeled the cottage with rain and sand. The window he’d placed the lamp on, flew open, and the meager flame sputtered out. He rushed to the window to pull the storm shutters closed. He could see the lights in the village flicker, then finally succumb to the storm. With the lighthouse, the lamp and his little box all gone dark, and the streetlights out, he suddenly felt like the only soul left on the island.
But the feeling passed as soon as the fog horns began to blast and he heard the knocking at his door. The Coast Guard had arrived to fix the light.