Skyla’s ears popped as the air pressure changed. Out the window, the sea began to boil as purple clouds descended on the island. Several ships on the horizon began a mad scramble to make it to safe harbor before the storm hit. The first gust hit the lighthouse making the hanging plants in the window dance back and forth. Skyla looked at the mostly full bowl of puppy chow sitting on the floor and looked out the still open door to see the newest addition to her life digging a hole in the soft dirt near the fence post. She sighed as she slipped on her windbreaker to chase him down. Today was no day to be outside.
She called to Oscar as she walked out the door, he looked at her and then continued to dig at the old dilapidated fence post that marked the edges of the island.
“We don’t have time for this,” Skyla complained to no one as the icy wind whipped her hair around her head, promising knots she did not want to brush out.
Skyla fought the mounting winds to where Oscar was digging his hole. In his mouth was a stick that still had whatever tree he had found it from dryad still hanging on to it. The small wood spirit tugged ineffectively on the stick as the puppy was determined to bury it.
“None of us have time for this, the North Wind is on his way,” Skyla said as she picked up puppy, stick, and dryad and put them under her arm and struggled against the winds back into the safety of the lighthouse.
Shutting the door and throwing the lock behind her, Skyla put the puppy in front of the food dish and dryad in with the rest of the wood. The wood spirit cried in protest about the dead trees she was surrounded by.
“Calm down, it isn’t anyone you know. You are the only tree on the island, and I will bring you home tomorrow. Would you rather sit by the fire?”
The little spirit swore at her in the language of wood.
“I thought not.”
Wind blasted the small lighthouse again. Oscar ducked underneath the heavy kitchen table and whined.
Skyla looked out through the small window and saw the 6-horse chariot of the spirit of the north wind riding down upon them.
“Shit,” she whispered as she turned to run up the stairs.
There were 76 stairs wrapped around the inside of the lighthouse. Her father made her memorize that number when she was young so she would never be lost in the darkness of her home. Even after all of these years, her thighs ached by the time she reached the top.
Betsy had her face pressed against the glass when Skyla finally huffed her way to the last step. The little flame demon spun in circles, red and yellow arms flickering as they reached above her, dress filling the entire glass of the lens. Betsy stopped her joyous dance and pointed at the stack of wood in the corner, and then pointed at what Skyla imagined was her stomach. ‘Did demons have stomachs?’ Taking a deep breath Skyla pulled open the wood box and pulled out some aged red cedar. She had it shipped special every spring from the mainland, as it burned hot and long and just happened to be the only thing that Betsy would eat. She was getting very particular in her hundred years of keeping Perseverance Lighthouse lit.
Betsy greedily grabbed at the wood the second Skyla opened her light. Her sharp teeth bared as she pulled it close to her. The rich fragrance of cedar warmed the icy air, even as the wind continued to pick up speed. On the horizon Skyla saw a lone ship still struggling against the waves, she was grateful that her fire demon would warn them of the rocks ahead. A whine pulled her eyes from the violent storm that tossed the ship around like a puppet.
Oscar had somehow gotten his little puppy legs up all seventy-six winding stairs. On his fuzzy back sat the slightly disgruntled looking dryad, hanging the stick just in front of the puppy’s face. The Dryad was shaking her small stick are repeatedly at something behind Skyla.
“What the…” Skyla asked, just as the world went black.
She woke up to a world of glass shards and ice. Something warm brushed her cheek. She opened her eyes to see Oscar huddled as close to her as he could get. The dryad held her stick like a sword, brandishing it something Skyla couldn’t quite see yet.
She pushed herself up and her eyes fell upon the shattered lens of the lighthouse. Laying at the bottom of the broken was the curled-up form of Betsy, her cedar log just barely smoking from her touch. Beyond the windows of the lighthouse were gone, and the North Wind now stood inside the small room.
The great spirit wore a cloak of grey clouds and lightning crackled across the storms of his eyes. Those eyes looked at the fire demon that lay prone before him. As he approached her, weathered hand extended Skyla bolted to her feet.
“Stop, can’t you see you are going to kill her.”
The North Wind did not pause as he clasped his icy hand around Betsy’s cooling body. She disappeared within his fist. As he opened it again, he blew the ashes of Betsy’s body into Skyla’s face and left.
With nothing left to do, Skyla picked up the dog and the Dryad and stumbled back down into the darkness of the lighthouse. For the rest of the night, she watched through the lightning as the ship broke upon the rocks. She could hear the screams of sailors over the laughs of the North Wind.