Sam and Jackie Bradley were delighted that they were finally moving to their dream home by the sea. It had been a while since they had first seen the old Georgian lighthouse. They had fallen in love with it immediately, set as it was high on the crumbling cliffs of the wild Yorkshire coastline north of Whitby.
Today was the day they had taken possession of it and were visiting from their home in London for three nights to begin sorting the new home before moving in permanently. A lot of the antique furniture that had been in the cottage for generations was to remain. The whole thing just needed some finishing touches. The December rain and sleet had made the journey a long and difficult one. The couple had lived and worked in London their whole lives. Now in their early thirties they both thought it was time for a change.
Jackie was so excited. After leaving art college she had worked for the British museum as an art restorer. The move was not only the start of a new life in her dream home, it gave her an opportunity to work from home. She would be pursuing her long-held dream to be a full-time artist. She was going to live full time in their home by the sea and paint.
Jackie’s husband Sam would continue working as a banker in London and commute north at weekends. They had sold their large house in London to finance the project and were now the proud owners of a 200-year-old disused lighthouse facing the wild North Sea.
The lighthouse was a tall tower with red and white hooped stripes going around it. At its base was a stone cottage. Solid, built to withstand centuries of wild North Sea gales. The lighthouse had been decommissioned by trinity house in the 1930’s. Since then it had been in private ownership. It had changed hands many times which the couple didn’t understand.
“It’s wonderful,” said Jackie as they drove up the long track from the main road.
They could see the lighthouse from many miles away and the track rose steadily as they headed towards the edge of the cliffs. They were so relieved to have arrived and straight away began unpacking the car. Cooking their evening meal and preparing the fires. The couple were excited to be spending their first night in their new home.
The lighthouse was one of the first to be built on the British coast when the network was first being developed in the early 1800’s. The building had remained pretty much unchanged since that time except for general repairs. The cliffs were high maybe 200 feet and almost sheer. Except in places where huge falls of rock had occurred causing platforms or slopes down to the sea. It was a most dramatic setting. The couple knew they would be very happy here for many years to come.
The day was going so well, all the fires were lit and the old single storey cottage was warm and cosy. The wind had changed direction during the day and was now blowing from the north, slamming against the cliffs. White horses were prancing in the rough sea far below. Jackie and Sam were sitting close together on the sofa, the fire and candles glimmering in the darkness.
They had eaten and were sipping at their wine, contemplating life in their wonderful new home. Suddenly there was a crash as if a shelf had fallen from the wall.
“What was that,” said Jackie.
“Not sure, sounded like something has fallen over in the cellar. Let’s go have a look we haven’t even been down there since we got here,” said Sam.
They had of course been in the cellar; it was the only thing Jackie didn’t like about the property. Neither of them believed in ghosts or the afterlife. Jackie had though unusually for her gone so far as to say that she thought the cellar was ‘creepy’.
The cottage had all its rooms off a central corridor that ran from the front door through to the kitchen. The door to the cellar though was different in that it was in the living room behind where Sam and Jackie were sitting. A plain old paneled wooden door with a rather large old padlock on it.
“I don’t want to go down there,” said Jackie. “I told you I wouldn’t be going down their much when we moved here.”
“Come on it will be fine we have to use the space for something, I might turn it into an office or a movie room. It would be great as a movie room,” said Sam.
Sam had gone to get the key from the kitchen while, Jackie waited reluctantly by the locked door. The atmosphere wasn’t helped by the fact that the only light switch for the cellar was at the bottom of the stairs. Sam went first with Jackie close behind him, gingerly making her way down the darkening passageway. Sam had picked up his torch from the kitchen and switched it on as he reached the cellar. He was still unfamiliar with the property and he hoped it would help him find the switch.
The light came on and the young couple stood scouring the large single white-painted room. It seemed to have been used by the previous owners for storage, before that it was unclear what the room had been used for. The walls were painted white and the stone floor was carpeted unlike the bare floorboards. Along one wall was a long unit of high shelving with boxes of junk and old paint tins. There was an old iron framed bed unmade, some dining chairs and boxes all around.
“What was the bang then?” said Jackie.
“I don’t know nothing seems to have fallen over,” said Sam.
Suddenly the shelves in the room shook, boxes fell to the floor. The light went out and the door at the top of steps slammed shut. Jackie stretched out to put her arms around Sam.
“I’m scared Sam let’s go quickly,” said Jackie. The shelves continued shaking. With his torch Sam scanned the now pitch black cellar.
“Is that someone crying,” said Sam.
Quietly at first but growing louder the couple heard what sounded like a woman crying. It was coming from the cellar, from the area where the old bed was. Then children screaming and crying from the rooms above and a man’s voice above it all shouting viciously.
“Help me, please help me. Is there someone there, there is isn’t there? I know you’re there speak to me help me,” said a woman.
Sam shone his torch at the bed where the voice had come from. There was nothing there just the old bed surrounded by fallen boxes.
Jackie by now was distraught and turned to leave. Sam hadn’t moved he was standing staring at the bed shining his torch at the empty space.
“Sam come on I don’t know what’s happened in this cellar we have to leave come on let’s go,” said Jackie.
Sam turned and began following her up the stairs.
“Jackie, we can’t leave I’m sorry. I know what happened here,” said Sam.
The blow with the metal torch was hard. Sam brought it down to bear swiftly. The blow hit Jackie on the back of her head and knocked her off her feet. As she fell Sam began a violent and sustained attack on his wife, dragging her back into the cellar. He beat her until she was unconscious. She awoke with pain all over her body. Her hair felt wet which, she realised was from blood that was collecting in a pool underneath her. At first, she had no idea where she was then the grim reality of her situation dawned on her.
Her husband who she trusted more than anyone else on earth had violently assaulted her. She tried to take stock. It was dark and cold, pitch dark. Her hands and feet were tied with rope, then her hands were tied to her feet behind her back. She was incapable of moving. Her mouth was gagged with cloth tightly and she had a heavy cloth bag over her head, tied tightly around her neck.
Jackie was struggling to breath and passed in and out of consciousness. She wanted to scream but it was impossible. She knew she was on the old bed in the cellar of their cottage. Why? was beyond her comprehension. Had Sam gone insane, he was a wonderful man. He would never do something like this to her. Was there someone else in the cellar with them when they went down. No just the voice. “Oh my God please someone help me, Sam please come back”.
No one was going to help Jackie. Not for a long time when it would be too late. The only person who might have helped Jackie was her husband Sam. He might have helped if he had come around from whatever it was that drove him to attack her. He didn’t unfortunately and was now lying dead. His body was smashed and broken on the rocks at the bottom of the cliffs far below the lighthouse and cottage.