Gravity’s pull on his dropped wristwatch would be the last normal sensation that Diego would experience for the duration. The hum of the electric motor below seemed to grow louder until he realized the hum or tone was coming from the prisms of the glass lens itself. Each prism that circled him was resonating at a different frequency. First, his vision became blurred as the crystals surrounding him appeared to vibrate. Then the entire lens looked as if it was tilting and wobbling as the lens spun faster, even as his body remained still upon the iron platform.
A sudden feeling of heavy drunkenness overcame his body, and a sensation of weightlessness set in. Diego grasped the center mast, topped with the light bulb tighter, shutting his eyes to all the whirling madness that surrounded him. The loud acoustic dissonance was unavoidable inside the capsule of light and glass, every shard sounding dissimilar from the next until it sounded as if the lens itself was shattering. Horrific noises, like a massive chandelier rolling down a steep staircase, made Diego brace himself even more in anticipation of the shards of glass cascading down upon him at any moment.
“The synchronicity and silence will tell you,” he recalled how Sirianna repeated this to him several times.
Diego held tightly onto the stable core of the tripod as disarray tumbled and spun all around him. His eyes remained tightly closed, awaiting the silence as physics seem upended or suspended. Then, after a sudden and violent physical jerk, a sonic shift occurred, bringing together all of the disorganized frequencies into one orchestral movement. The now harmonious tones combined, creating a momentary melodious aria, the most beautiful sounds that the old mariner would ever hear. The gripping tension throughout his body softened to these sounds. Still, he jerked and uncontrollably convulsed several times slightly as his soul was being reset in an almost post-orgasmic twitching trance. The tones and pitches diminished quickly until only soft low spontaneous sounds like large tubular bells colliding delicately in a soft breeze. Even though he didn’t want the sounds to fade, he desperately tried to listen for as long as the tones would last; the chimes faded until only the buzz of the electric motor remained. Turning the lens as it always had.
Diego opened his eyes to all the prisms intact as it slowly revolved, but the glow of the lamp above seemed to cast a light of a slightly different hue. He stood up next to the burning bulb and turned to the east inside the lens. The slow rotation of the center ring of clear glass momentarily threw off his senses of motion and balance.
As he steadied himself, he lifted both arms above his head and grabbed hold of a six-inch prism. The lowest one due east on the upper dome section of the lens. Wrapping his fingers around the clear triangle shard, he pulled until the pristine piece loosened, the dried caulk-like substance holding the prism in its mathematically correct position cracked, and bits of it broke away. He gripped and tugged once more until the prism released from the framework of brass and litharge and into his palm. Diego studied the piece briefly before placing it into the pocket of his worn khaki pants.
Diego left the confines of the lens and descended to the rotation level, picking up his timepiece at his feet, which now had a cracked crystal, but was still ticking, the second hand still in motion.
When Diego began strapping his watch back onto his wrist, he noticed that the bloody stigmata on his hands from the earlier fall into the clam beds were gone, as were the cuts on the bottom of his foot. He took a deep breath as he surveyed the round room flooded with light from above. There were several slight differences from when he had entered the space twenty minutes earlier. The circular space was more organized, with the tools on the grey counter gone, as were his bloody footprints. Gone was the blue Monte Carlo on the calendar for September of 79′. In the same place, hanging on the wall, was a calendar; over the fold of September was a photo of an orange and white helicopter hovering above an ocean. Taking a slow, deliberate, deep breath, Diego already knew as he pulled the calendar from the wall and folded it down, reading the title across its cover:
“United States Coast Guard Calendar 1970”.
He could hear the voice of Sirianna from a not-so-distant memory, “The first nine rotations of the lens, during any midnight on the ninth month, will send you back nine years.”
Diego closed the rotation room door behind him and descended the darkened spiral iron staircase, past the worn granite towards the exit. The brass knob would not release the latch this time, and the solid wooden door would not open. The hall to his back was symmetrical with a door to another room on either side, and two shuttered windows past the doors just before the granite steps. He walked past the doors, lifted the wooden dusty window to his left, and pushed the heavy rotted wood shutters open. He felt the breeze on his face and took notice of the trees swaying in the distance. The chain-linked fence that he had slithered through twenty-five minutes earlier was gone, as was the moon. Thick clouds covered the night sky as a storm approached.
Stepping through the window and out onto a ledge just several feet above the ground, Diego looked up and realized he was standing on the concrete base of the lighthouse. He hopped onto the ground and slowly walked around the old tower. The old man, slightly younger now, lightly caressed six of the eight corners as he walked around the solid octagon of concrete and brick. Occasionally he looked straight up, making out the pattern of mortar and bricks, the swirl of black and white stripes, the crisp trinity of beams of white light slowly rotating above and beyond that, the swift-moving dark clouds of uncertain mayhem yet to be unleashed.
Diego could smell the storm approaching as the turbulent winds whipped around the tower and the acrid scent of charcoal and charred wood was also heavy in the air.
He followed the sharp smell past the building at the front of the lighthouse to the large burned-out two-story brick house. It was difficult to visualize in the clouded darkness, but the structure looked different than it had twenty minutes earlier. The ashen heaped skeletal remains of the dwelling seemed like a fresh stagnant wound across the animated landscape of swaying Live Oaks, their long thick branches sprawling out like the tentacles of some lost mythical sea creature. He stood stoically between the blackened brick ruins of the old dwelling with the black and white striped tower at his back, listening to the winds of the fast-approaching storm as if waiting for the ruined structure to rise like a phoenix from the ashes. Instead, bits of soot and ash swirled as the impending storm winds begin to carry the pungent dust across the shadowy barren lot. Tiny bits of ash brushed across his face and then pelted the back of his neck as he turned away from the wind and towards the path heading north to nearby the street. Barefoot, baptized by the ashes, and now nine years younger, Diego smiled as he gazed up at the rotating beacon one last time before following the street lights and the shifting shadows of the swaying trees through a neighborhood, away from the lighthouse and towards the old town.