I, Will Gibson, write this note, by candlelight, as the storm thunders relentlessly against the island, rattling the lighthouse window only a matter of yards from my person.
We have now been three days on the Outer Hebridean island of Eilean Mor, the most prominent of the famed ‘Seven Hunters’ or the Flannan Isles if you will. Until this night both events and the weather had passed without incident. The documentary myself and my fellow crew members have been making to commemorate the centenary of the Flannan Isle Lighthouse Mystery – when all lighthouse keepers vanished without a trace, and without explanation, from this very lighthouse, this very island, on Boxing Day in the year 1900 – had been progressing well. Sufficient footage was sought and subsequently obtained. In fact we had intended to leave the island earlier today only to be delayed by our unanimous excitement at the prospect of filming in the impending – and now very much present – storm. Such footage, after two consecutive days of placid conditions, would have been a sublime addition to our film canon, allowing us to intersperse said clips with the various theories and conjecture which base themselves around the similar stormy conditions that bombarded the island on that most infamous of nights 100 years ago.
That decision, the one to remain on the island, would now appear to have sealed our collective fates. I write this as the only member of the six person crew not to have ventured out into the darkness of the night, the maelstrom of the storm. Each having left the lighthouse and each having failed to return. From the aforementioned window I can see the waves, colossal and soaring, rebounding against the islands coast, taunting all who venture near them with their awesome ferocity. The darkness itself, now free from the restricting bounds that was the lighthouse’s electrical supply, seems to claw at the window pane, pressing itself up against the glass, staring in at me with mocking malevolence.
Robert, our principle cameraman, was first to venture out into the storm. Determined to capture the perfect shot, one that would relay just how hopelessly cataclysmic the conditions appear whilst marooned on this island, he left the relative safety of the lighthouse intending to film only a matter of feet from the front door despite the continuous sheets of rain thudding against the earth. His zoom, his lighting, his formatting would do the necessary job he explained, all those features and functions would save him the need to approach the by-now perilous coastline. This was his intention. And this was how proceeded. Until that is he became convinced that he had seen a figure, likely a man he surmised, through his lens standing on what appeared to be the island’s cliff-edge.
He called out, nearly shouting himself hoarse, as he tried to catch the attention of the figure. He waved, whistled, hollered. All to no avail. Still the figure stood. Perched ominously on the island’s edge. The wild waves below promising nothing but a violent watery grave should he plunge from the edge. Robert grabbed his filming equipment, retreating inside and relayed this turn of events to us in a hurried, gasping manner. He was adamant that he should venture down to this figure, this apparent man, and usher him back up the hill to the safety of the lighthouse. At the very least for dry surroundings. Only then could this man expain to us how and why he came to find himself on this island in the current conditions. We objected of course, doubting the veracity of his sight, the logic of the situation, but Robert was steadfast. He asked for no-one to accompany him but he could not leave this soul unattended on a night such as this, with death lapping its unrelenting waves against the island. And so he left, despite our protestations, and disappeared into the darkness of the night. This was roughly five hours ago. I have not seen Robert since.
As time ticked by, the lack of reappearance by Robert or indeed the supposed figure seen by the latter at the island’s edge forced the nerves, the panic in our minds, to hasten. The conditions were, ARE, atrocious yes but surely he should not have taken this long to venture down and back. Worst case scenarios littered out individual thoughts and then manifested themselves in panicked, stuttered voices. Had he fallen, plunged into the sea? Had he tripped on the way down, subsequently lying freezing and injured in the sodden ground? Had he in fact met the figure and had said figure assaulted Robert for whatever cause or reason? Theories skipped around our huddled, shivering circle. Enough to send Louisa, our director, out into the darkness with Robert’s camera. We followed her, huddling by the door, as she stared through the lens trying to decipher any clues through the conditions as to where our cameraman could be. She peered, back arched, through the camera for what must have been two or three minutes before suddenly bursting into excitement. She could see him, she shouted back to us, she could see him. No, it wasn’t Robert, but the man, the figure who Robert had spoken of. He was signalling, both arms criss-crossing the other, waving up at the lighthouse. He was trying to get our attention. Our hearts ran cold. Robert. What had happened to him? To our friend. Louisa wasn’t waiting to find out. She dropped the camera, letting it sink into the marshy ground, and took off at pace down toward the island’s edge. I have not seen her since.
When Louisa failed to reappear the same sequence of events played out, this time sending Mark down to the island’s edge, again summoned by this figure this apparition. And when Mark failed to reappear, Andrea went. And then Annabel followed the same path when Andrea similarly failed to show. As you would have guessed by now, I have seen neither Mark, Andrea or Annabel since. I, being the technical guru of the team, was deemed the most likely to be able to re-establish communication channels with the mainland in order to send for urgent assistance – this, you will have no doubt gathered, I have been unable to achieve. And thus I was chosen to remain behind. Hence why I now sit alone, penning this note. This epitaph perhaps. I have seen the figure myself. I like all the others, looked through the camera lens. I too have seen him signal for help, for attention, for focus. And yet I saw no sign of any of my five fellow crew members. My friends.
It has now been two hours since Annabel left the lighthouse. I cannot wait around any longer. Whatever lies in wait for me, be it death by the hands of this stranger, be it safety, be it whatever else, I cannot sit idly by any longer in the knowledge that my friends are in peril.
And so I arrive at the conclusion of this note. In the event that I do not return, either to this lighthouse or to life on the mainland, I want this sequence of events to be known of, to be recorded so that any proper or appropriate course of action can be taken. Our documentary was self-financed, self-prompted. An independent production intended to propel us into the upper echelons of documentary film-makers in this country. For this reason no-one but the six of us, and the crew that brought us to the island, know of our presence here. And so with that in mind, this note is, if nothing else, a warning to the world. Hear our tale. Heed our call. Send for help. Please…
Hmm…nice note, fairly accurate I suppose but that’s not going to stop me crumpling it up and…there we go, aye the wind’s taken that…launching it into the waves. Quite a shame actually, the boy had such a lovely prose style. I really wish he hadn’t kept referring to me as ‘the figure’ or ‘the man’ though. ‘The apparition’ was closer to the truth aye but if these folk had done their research they’d have known that they could have called me by my Christian name, Donald, or if they’d like, ‘The Occasional’.
You see, I know what you’re thinking. You’ve no doubt already had me pegged as a vile,creepy, sinister ghoul. Luring six young men and women to their death and all that. But nothing could be further from the truth. Yes I did lure them to their death, aye, seeing them plunge off the island and into those hellish waves below. Fairly easy when you’re an ‘apparition’ actually and you have the power to appear and disappear at a moment’s notice. They grab out for you, you vanish, and…splash. Another one gone.
But you see, I was one of the three back in 1900. One of the three that seemingly vanished off the face of the the earth, hide nor hair seen of any of us since. I was ‘The Occasional’ they spoke about in the report alongside the regulars Marshall and Ducat. I was only a stand-in, stepping in after another keeper was laid low with flu. How’s that for luck eh? But of course we never just ‘vanished’ did we.
The exact same thing that happened to these fine young men and women tonight happened to us lot one hundred years ago. Same storm, same conditions, exact same method of death. Identical. Only with us it was some dour looking sailor ghoul who died a century previous to that, that lured us to the waves. And in another one hundred years time it’ll be the responsibility of one of these folk – probably the young fellow who penned that note actually, he seems a suitably morbid kind of chap – to lure another poor set of unsuspecting buggers to their deaths. Sacrificial you see. To appease the sea, or the storm or…or I don’t really know to tell you the truth. When you’re dealing with forces of this magnitude you don’t tend to ask too many questions. You just do as you’re told.
Anyway, that’s my watch finally over at least.
About time for some rest I think.
Wouldn’t you say so?