The Pharos Objective - Origins (containing a chapter not in the novel)

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This is a flashback story, not in the final novel, a treat for those who have read my novel, THE PHAROS OBJECTIVE, and hopefully a teaser for those who haven't...
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   The Pharos ± First Glimpse  by David Sakmyster  I want to tell you one last story, his father had said to Calebduring the Fourth of July celebration. The night before he shipped off for Iraq, Caleb's father had brought him and his younger sister out to thehill overlooking Sodus Bay, a short distance from their home and itsattached 19 th -century lighthouse. The stars vanished as fireworksexploded into the night, pinwheeling in a bombastic display of soundand color, thrilling the viewers on the beach below.  In his father's eyes, Caleb had seen the flowering explosionsdimming, the lights fading to crimson embers. And as a melancholylook settled in, Caleb wondered if his father was peering across theworld, finding his vision besieged by sandstorms, oil fires, roadside bombs and hundreds of rotting corpses. It's the story of how I met the love of my life«   More fireworks, accompanied by blasts so intense his eyes beganto water. Amid the thundering echoes, Caleb looked away from hisfather and focused on the beacon from their lighthouse, its beam flashingsteadily into the night.Fifteen years later he would remember this story, and once again itwould fill him with hope ± that it wasn't all about his mother'sobsessions.It wasn't all about the Pharos.#Helen meets him, the man of her dreams, on the day her father dies. It's not the most romantic of meetings. The introduction is tragic;she is disheveled, distraught. Her father has just fallen out of an appletree on her family's orchard. It was a big orchard, and they had a dozenhelpers coming to pick and twenty more working at the mill. A profitable business, the orchard supplied juices, sauce and apples allacross the state and down to New York City as well.It was a business Helen's grandfather created, planting apple seedson a patch of lakeside land that cost his entire savings. And now, her father sighs out his last breath into that soft earth. His neck is cracked,and his last vision is of his twenty-year old daughter in a billowingyellow dress staring open-mouthed at his twisted body.  She doesn't scream.She doesn't even cry out. She just holds her father's stare until thelife fades from his eyes, then she crumbles to her knees, crawls throughthe fallen apples and the bees and the worms and the bugs; she crawls tohis side and she hugs him until someone else notices and raises a cry.Four hours later, she still hasn't changed her dress. Smashed apple pieces and tiny black pits are clinging to the fabric around her knees, andthere's a thick layer of dirt under her nails. Unable to bear the presenceof the coroner and her weeping uncles and aunts, she's gone for a walk,and finds herself across dusty Lake Road, heading toward the cliff ± where that white picket fence, the small red cottage and the lighthousehave stood ever since she was a child.Docked below is a rusted old red and white ship that every so oftenmakes its way out into the lake. It has a tiny oil lantern upon one mast,and occasionally, during very foggy nights, that beacon is lit as well,guiding incoming merchant ships to port.She enters the Crowe farm, owned by that old man, the widower.He has maintained the lighthouse for thirty years. Word has it that hisson came home from college last month and is helping out.She didn't start out heading there, but the black clouds over thelake advanced faster than she could have imagined, menacing, firing off volleys of rain. And then darkness fell like a weighted curtain. In a pelting downpour, lost in whipping winds and deepening gloom, shefocuses on one brilliant, flickering light ± the beacon from that talllighthouse, drawing her onward.She knocks at the door and looks up. Thirty feet over her head, thewhite tower stretches until merging with that dazzling light. She hears  the grinding of the gears inside, the rain hammering uselessly against thelantern glass, the great bulb spinning around and around. It gives her comfort and warms her somehow, although she's down here on themuddy ground, soaking wet and shivering, her yellow dress dripping andher golden hair stuck to her face. Her hands are trembling, lipsquivering. Bare feet are caked with mud.She knocks again, and he answers.Phillip.His eyes widen ± but not much. Almost as if he's been expectingher. Does he already have a towel and a blanket in his hands? She can'tremember, but the next few minutes are a blur. He brings her inside, toa small table and soft couch beside the spiral staircase.She notices many things at once, not the least of which is howhandsome this young man is, the way his lower lip trembles as hetouches her, the way his curly auburn hair falls over his eyes and he blushes as she sighs into his arms and leans on him as she walks.She notices the bookshelves, the hundreds of books sprawled abouton card tables, shelves and just thrown around the floor. An old man iscoughing somewhere in the next room, and Phillip calls out for him tomake some tea. She looks into this young man's dark eyes and feels asudden push at her back, a familiar touch as her father used to push her on the swing in the yard when she was little.She sighs, throws her arms about Phillip's neck, tells him Thank you, and then releases the flood of tears and emotion she's been holdingin all afternoon. Two cups of tea later, after old man Crowe has phonedher uncle and assured him of Helen's safety, she falls into a deep sleepon the couch, her head resting on Phillip's shoulder.
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