Welcome back. It’s time to see how the Fort and Light Adventure ends!
If you missed some of this story, here’s a quick recap: You were about to leave the old military fort you were exploring when you heard a voice inside. Upon checking it out, you found yourself not in an old fort but in a fully manned military operation. The voice you heard told you to get the lighthouse lit because there’s a boat sneaking past on the river. Readers voted to use the matches in your pocket to light the lighthouse. (If you’d like the read the beginning, click here.)
When you got the lighthouse lit up, the shooting started! The pirate ship and the fort exchanged a series of volleys until one of the pirate’s cannon balls hit your lighthouse and knocked you out. When you awoke, you found yourself captured by the pirates and waiting on the beach while they finish their breakfast to find out what they want to do with you. Readers voted to try and escape with your fellow captive by running for the river. (If you’d like to read this part in full, click here.)
You made it to the river and succeeded in escaping the pirates, but your fellow captive now wants to warn the town of the pirates headed their way. Readers voted to search for the old signal tower in hopes you can find it and get it lit. (If you’d like to read about your escape, click here.)
Now, let’s go search the forest.
Fort and LightBb2: Search the Forest
Even moving around to help the blood flow to your limbs, your shivering doesn’t subside for another half an hour.
“I’m thinking another soak in the river would be dangerous,” you tell your companion, who you’ve started to think of as Gray Beard.
He hums. “You’re probably right. It’s not a warm day.”
“Let’s aim for the Signal Tower,” you say.
Gray Beard simply nods. After another few minutes in the sunshine, you both head into the trees in unspoken accord. The long branches and dark trunks of the forest close around you in an almost claustrophobic fashion, like a living cave with moss acting as a heavy, green blanket.
“We’ll get lost unless we orient ourselves somehow,” Gray Beard says.
You both stop. You’ve done a certain amount of hiking and orienteering in your life, so after a few minutes of looking around, you think you’ve got it.
“Signal Tower’s that way,” you point in the general direction where, when you were at the river, you could see the land rising slightly from the rest of the landscape.
Gray Beard nods.
“The river should then always be to our right.” You point again but it’s the dull roar of the river that really speaks of its direction. “Which places the sun to our left and slightly behind us.” You point again but the forest obscures most of the direct light from the sun. “We’ll have to pause anytime we get a break in the canopy and make sure we’re still on course.”
Gray Beard gives a soft chuckle. “I like you,” he says. “I’m not sure anyone else at the fort could have figured that out so easily. Okay, so river to the right and sun to the back of our left shoulders. Perfect.”
You head out again and before long, you’re both covered in a thin layer of sweat. Any chance you get, you pause to check the direction of the sun but the dull ache of hunger starts pinching your belly long before Gray Beard calls a halt. He groans as he lowers himself to sit on the large exposed root of a nearby tree.
“We should be close now,” he says with a look around that communicates his worry. Unlike before, he’s making no effort to hide his true feelings.
Somehow, that worry makes you want to be more positive to help keep his spirits up.
“We’ll find it,” you say. “There’s a small patch of sunlight over there. I’ll go take a quick look while you rest.”
He gives an appreciative smile as you head for the patch of sun.
The gesture was more to show encouragement than for anything else, but when you reach the small bit of light, you give a surprised, “Ha!” at what you find.
“Come here,” you call. “I’ve found something.”
When Gray Beard reaches the spot, you point out the slightly overgrown trail on the far side. What truly encourages you is the uphill slant to it and the cut logs on the sides that the moss hasn’t completely buried yet.
Gray Beard slaps your shoulder and you wince at the sharp pound. Your companion doesn’t notice in his excitement. He heads straight for the path.
In following it, you quickly rise up out of the forest to a cleared hill, and at the top sits a square wooden tower.
The ladder creaks when Gray Beard places his foot on the first rung, but it holds up with loud protests as he ascends. You say a quick prayer and follow him.
By the time you crawl through the trap door, Gray Beard’s already got a heavy metal box open and is emptying its contents across the floor. An old rope, a shovel, two small lanterns, and a bedroll occupy the space. Next he pitches an empty burlap sack and then comes up with a triumphant, “ahha!” In his hand is a small wooden box that rattles like your small matchbox.
He hands it over. “Above us should be the signal platform.” He points to the flat ceiling. “Tinder and all that should be up there. Go for it.”
Maybe he assumes because you were the one to light the lighthouse at the fort that this is your job, but whatever the reason, you don’t protest. Instead, you pocket the box and climb the short ladder to the platform above.
From this high up, you notice the break in the trees and the rooftops of the town farther down the river. It seems peaceful but when you scan the river, your stomach sinks at the tall masts sliding along. It won’t be long before the pirates reach that calm, unaware town.
Turning to the waiting fire platform, you indeed find the kindling Gray Beard spoke of along with a stack of cut wood to add to the fire. A small, oiled canvas slants over the pile to keep it dry from any rain.
Just as with the lighthouse, this fire starts after a few tries but it smokes terribly from the moisture that’s slowly crept into it from the general atmosphere. Blowing gently, you coax it slowly to life until you’re sure the logs will light. A quick glance at the river tells you the pirates must be pushing their oarsmen because they’re moving at a steady clip.
“Hurry, my friend,” Gray Beard calls as though you can’t see the ship. From his vantage point below, he probably just noticed it.
Finally, the fire gives a whoosh, and the logs light with an acceleration only accomplished with gasoline. You fall back on your rump in your hurry to get out of the way. Whoever set up this platform must have soaked the logs. Time and moisture had hidden the smell from you.
Within seconds, an answering orange flame springs up from the town. Although the signal tower is decrepit, apparently the town still mans their watches. Good. They have time to prepare.
Gray Beard gives a whoop of excitement at your success.
It’s the last thing you hear as everything fades to black.
Something’s tapping metal on glass. You groan and open your lids to find the light of a flashlight hitting your eyes. In a moment of total disorientation, you look around to find yourself in the driver seat of your car. It’s dark outside except for the directed light in your face.
Rolling down the window, you see the hat and narrow face of the park ranger who closed the gate today…yesterday…a while ago.
“You can’t sleep in the parking lot,” the ranger says. “Go home.”
You just nod, still disoriented, but when you reach into your pock, you find the chatter of your keys at your fingertips.
It’s only later that you check the history books to see what they say about the fort and the signal tower. Although they don’t directly mention you, there is one report from Captain Murphey Montgomery about escaping pirates with one of the fort’s personnel. It’s a very military report, so he doesn’t exactly say the person disappeared immediately after the signal fire ignited, but the account does suspiciously ignore any more mention of said person. Captain Montgomery was awarded a medal for saving the town. When you find a picture of the Captain, you just smile. Well done, Gray Beard, well done.
Well done! You survived and warned everyone of the pirates =)
Thank you for joining in with this adventure. We’ll return next week with a brand new adventure to explore!
(If you liked this story and are interested in more adventures, you can find my book, The Adventure, on Amazon.)