Day Five - The Monolith

Mist rose in a thick haze, obscuring my vision as we drove along the road by the sea, down to The Monolith. As we approached I saw why it had earned its name. I could see it from far away up the coast, a solid dark shape jutting out from the frothy, erosive waves. Time had eroded the concrete foundations connecting the single basalt structure from the mainland, but it had not destroyed the great fortress that stood vigilant on the coastline.

What had once been called Cordington Citadel now sat abandoned in this forsaken part of the coastline. Years ago, back when WWII had been in full swing, Cordington or ‘The Monolith’ as its denizens called it was quite a busy little outpost, monitoring friendly seas for German U-boats and launching British submarines.

At the time, people had joked that a sailor could have seen its bulky concrete tower all the way from Denmark, and indeed, it was quite inconspicuous. That was part of the point, though. Half of the purpose of the Monolith was to launch submarines but the other half was to see sailors safely home. There was even a lighthouse on the cliffs above the installation that was part of the property and as far as I could tell, it was still operational.

After the war though, there was no purpose for the old fort. Over time, the Monolith was decommissioned and ultimately abandoned. The Government still owns the property but there’s really nothing they seem to be doing with it. Occasionally it will be rented out for a movie shoot. The abandoned base has featured in a few small-time films, usually for interior locations and it really does have quite an impressive little resume. The interior is a beautiful sight to see, even if it is a tad run down, and that was part of why we were there, to try and document that interior before time took it all away from us. Preserve a little piece of history.

My name is James Davidson, and I want to be one of the greats like Stanley Kubrick or Steven Spielberg. I love the atmosphere of some older movies and I want to recreate that in my own films. That was what drew me to the Monolith.

From what I knew, it was the perfect setting for the latest film I had in mind. I didn’t have much of a budget or any big-name actors, but I was sure that I could work with what I did have so long as I used it all effectively and I figured the Monolith would be a big part of that. That was why I was there that day. I just wanted to scout out the location and see if it would actually suit my needs.

In the car beside me was Darren Leigh, a close friend of mine who I’d worked with before and was more than happy to work with again. Darren was a decent cameraman and he knew how to handle the equipment well enough. Besides, it was nice to at least have someone to talk to on my lonely excursion.

“Hell of a morning,” I remember him saying. He was looking out over the North Sea to our left as we drove. The mist didn’t let him see far, yet there was something beautiful and ethereal about its presence.

“We should get some shots of that. It’s a damn pretty sight if there’s ever been one.”

I glanced over at the mist. Darren was right. It was a pretty sight to see. It would’ve been a crime not to immortalise it. The mist ahead of us swirled around the grey rectangular building. Despite the stories of the height of the Monolith, I found that it was far wider than it was tall. It looked almost like an old castle sitting on the edge of the sea and the approach was like something out of a dream.

As we got closer, I could see the chain-link fence that stopped us from getting closer and my car slowed to a stop. Technically, we had no right to actually be there. The gate was closed but that really didn’t bother me much. I knew I wouldn’t be the first person to have snuck into the Monolith and I wasn’t going to be the last either.

I pulled off onto the side of the road to park and got out of the car and Darren did the same. He headed around to the boot to get his equipment. Mostly just a few cameras for some test shots. We could discuss getting a legitimate permit to film in the Monolith when we actually went there to film. This was just to ensure we weren’t wasting our time with the place.

“You got the wire cutters?” I asked. I lit a cigarette as I looked out over the sea. I already had a good vibe about this place. It gave the exact atmosphere that I wanted for my movie. I was still finishing the script, but it was meant to be a grim wartime character study about a technician on a base during WWII. If I got it right, it could be a masterpiece, on par with great films like Joker and Citizen Kane. Perhaps it might even bring me to the level of fame I’d only ever dreamed of before.

“I got them here,” Darren said and brushed past me. He cut the fence near where it met the cliff. Nothing that would be immediately noticeable. Just enough to let us push through to get inside.

The Monolith stood before us, unguarded and free to explore. I could only barely contain my excitement as I started towards the old building. An abandoned road overgrown with a few resilient weeds led towards the entrance of the base. The windows were boarded up with plywood and the concrete exterior was cracked and worn. We found a way inside and were greeted with an old, musty smell. The base was in worse shape than I had anticipated. There’d been little to no upkeep of it in the past 70 to 80 years, and it showed.

I could hear the steady dripping of water somewhere far in the distance and there was no light other than the dull glow from mine and Darren’s phones.

“This is it?” he asked and he sounded disheartened. I won’t lie. I was pretty upset too. This place seemed so… dead… I’ll confess, I had imagined something far more grand and photogenic. Instead, this building felt like a waterlogged carcass. But we had come all this way, to give up at the first sight would be a mistake.

“We’ll see what the rest of the base looks like,” I said. “Let’s go.”

With that I descended into the darkness, unaware of what was waiting.

Much of the layout of the Monument was devoted to the submarine bays. There were twelve of them in total, spanning the length of the base. Near the rear, built into the cliff wall were what I assumed to have once been barracks and offices, although it was hard to tell. Any furniture had long since been cleared away leaving nothing behind but cracked concrete. I saw a few small areas that might do for filming if they were dressed up a bit, but they probably would have required far more time, effort, and budget than I had to spare.

Darren took his photographs but it was already a foregone conclusion that the interior of the Monolith had little to offer. We’d wasted our time even if neither of us wanted to admit it yet. That’s not to say that the Monolith was not interesting. Far from it. The old base had an allure to it that was hard to accurately describe. It was rather fascinating to explore a place that was almost forgotten to time.

“Hey James, take a look at this!”

I was standing in one of the sub bays when Darren called out to me.

“Looks like they left something behind.”

I went over, wondering just what it was that he’d seen. He’d wandered off into a side room and I was a little surprised to see a spiralling stairwell in an alcove against the wall. The metal was old and rusted. Climbing it may have been a mistake but it led upwards to some unseen part of the base and Darren was already halfway up.

“You sure that’s safe?” I asked but he didn’t reply. He just vanished up the stairs.

“Darren?” I called. Still no reply but I could hear his footsteps. I sucked in a deep breath and swore quietly before I started up the rusty staircase. The ancient metal groaned under my weight as I followed Darren up. The rusted stairway led up quite a ways but I could hear Darren just above me. I could feel powdered rust shaking off the old stairs overhead and into my hair before I reached the top.

“Look at this!” I heard him say. From what I could see, he was standing in a circular room that was more brightly lit than the rest of the base. I looked up and I could see a seemingly endless tower with another spiral staircase curling around the walls like a tentacle. It took me a moment to realise that I was inside a lighthouse. No…the lighthouse. It must have gone deep into the earth so it could be accessed easily through the Monolith.

“Does it go all the way up?” I asked.

“Only one way to find out,” Darren said as he began to ascend the stairs. This time, I didn’t wait behind him. The stairs here were newer. They didn’t creak and groan beneath our weight as much. Clearly, the Government had ensured that this lighthouse was operational and I suppose that made sense. It couldn’t hurt to have one more beacon out at sea.

Darren and I climbed the tower in silence. It was one hell of a climb but Darren wanted to investigate and I was admittedly curious as to what it was like at the top myself. At the top of the lighthouse, we could see most of the Monolith far below us through the mist. The sea stretched out into the infinite void of white mist and we were denied a view of its true majesty. But there was still something breath-taking about the sights that we did see.

Darren’s camera clicked as he snapped a photograph.

“This is gorgeous,” he said under his breath. “We could get some outstanding shots from up here!”

I just nodded silently in response. The shining beacon spun slowly behind us, sending its light far away. My eyes studied the sea before I looked down to the Monolith below us.

Just outside of the installation, I saw small shapes moving amongst the mist and I squinted to try and get a better look at them.

“Darren, I don’t think we’re alone.”

Darren paused and looked down. It took him a minute to see what I saw.

“Shit, do you think someone saw us come in?”

“It’s possible,” I replied. “We should go. We’ll get back to the car and get the hell out of here.”

Darren frowned. He didn’t like the idea but he couldn’t disagree. Hiding in the lighthouse tower would’ve effectively cornered us and neither of us wanted that. I started back down the stairs again, taking them almost two at a time and I could hear Darren behind me. We reached the landing where the lighthouse began. There was a closed door that I assumed led outside and I almost considered taking it. To do so would’ve meant we’d find ourselves at the top of the cliff with no clear way down. We needed to go out the way we’d come in, through the rusted staircase.

I saw it through a doorway that Darren had forced open when he’d come in first. It was rusted to shit so he’d probably broken it easily. With my friend behind me, I started for those rusted stairs and I didn’t linger on them. I hurried down, not thinking about whether the stairs could handle my speed. I could hear Darren coming down behind me and the metal groaned in protest. I shouldn’t have been surprised when it gave out, but I still was.

As we were nearing the final few steps, Darren gave a sudden cry before a section of the spiral stairs snapped beneath him. I didn’t see him fall but I saw him hit the ground and I heard his cry of pain.



As I reached the ground again, I saw what had hurt him. A section of the broken metal had left a jagged tear in his calf. Blood soaked through his jeans and Darren clutched his leg, gritting his teeth to stop himself from screaming. The sight of all that blood turned my stomach and as the panic set in it became harder to think clearly. We needed to go.

“Shit… Darren, can you stand?”

He just growled at me and I took its meaning to be that he couldn’t exactly get up on his own. I rushed over to him, offering him a hand to pull him to his feet.

“Come on, man, come on…”

Darren did what he could to pick himself up and he cried out in pain as he did. He almost collapsed outright before he steadied himself. His wounded leg wobbled under his weight as he leaned against the wall for support.

“Fuck… Jesus fucking Christ, James…”

“Hold still lemme just see how bad it is!”

I leaned down, looking at the bleeding gash in his leg. I wasn’t a doctor. I had no idea how to diagnose any of this, but it looked bad.

“We need to get you to a doctor,” I finally said. “No shit, James!”

The last thing I needed was his attitude at that moment but I tried to ignore it.

“Let’s get you back to the car…”

“The car? You want me to walk back to the car?” Darren asked. He laughed loudly and humourlessly.

“You wanna get arrested?”

“I’m fucking bleeding, you daft cunt! We’re not sneaking past whoever’s in here! Be a man and bite the bloody bullet! Call for help!”

Somewhere deeper in the base, I heard movement and spun around. With all the noise we were making, of course, we’d already been found.

I glanced at Darren before deciding that there wasn’t much of a choice. He was right. Sneaking to the car wasn’t an option.

“Over here!” I called. “My friend’s hurt bad! Bring help!”

The movement in the darkened halls grew closer and I saw a man enter the room.

“Thank God, do you have a phone? Should we call an ambulance?” I asked. The man didn’t reply. He stood in the doorway, staring at us before he began to approach. As he drew nearer though, something seemed off.

His gait was slow and sluggish. He walked like a drunkard, dragging his feet and staggering towards us. I could hear water dripping onto the concrete floor as if this newcomer had just crawled out of the sea. As he got closer, I could make out some of the details of his uniform. It was dark blue with a white belt. His clothes were soaking wet and dripping onto the floor. I could see a white undershirt clinging to his chest as he drew nearer. His skin seemed so pale it almost seemed to glow in the dim light. His eyes looked sunken in and hollow. Staring at him filled me with a quiet, creeping dread and I found myself recoiling from him.

“Sir?” I asked. Still no response. Behind him, I could see two similarly dressed men entering the room behind him. Like him, they moved with a shuffling gait, and water dripped from their drenched uniforms.

“James?” Darren asked. “What the fuck is wrong with them?”

I had no answer. I didn’t know what I was looking at, but I knew that it scared the piss out of me! I recognised those uniforms from my research on my screenplay. They were naval. Not just naval… They were old. These looked like WWII era uniforms… Not what you’d see on a few security guards or God forbid the police!

“James?” Darren asked again. They were so close to us now and getting closer with every passing second and I finally found my voice again.

“Run!” I grabbed Darren by the wrist, not caring if he could actually run or not.

“Wait!” he called. “The camera!”

He tried to pull away from me and reach for the camera. With everything that had happened, I hadn’t noticed that he’d dropped it when he’d fallen through the stairs. I hadn’t even thought about the bloody camera.

“Leave it!” I called, but Darren pulled away from me, almost collapsing to snatch the camera off the ground.

I felt a cold, wet hand grabbing my arm in an iron grip. One of the dead-eyed sailors pulled me towards the door and yanked me off my feet. I watched as his companions grabbed Darren and began to drag him along the concrete floor, leaving a trail of blood in his wake as he struggled and thrashed in their grip.

“Let me go! You goddamn bastards, let me the fuck go!”

I tried to brace my feet against the concrete and pull myself free but the sailor who had a grip on me would not relent. Without a word from our captors, Darren and I were dragged through the abandoned Monolith and out through the way we’d come in. Around us, I saw other dead eyed figures. Most were sailors, some were dressed in other outfits. I spotted a couple of figures in more modern attire. All of them were pale and dripping wet. All of them looked dead.

“What the fuck? W-what the FUCK?” I heard Darren yell. His voice quaked with fear. He didn’t know what was going on anymore than I did and truth be told I didn’t want to fucking know.

As we were dragged out of the Monolith, I saw even more of the dead men around us. They stood motionless, mindless guardians of this place and they stared upwards towards the top of the cliff, sentinel.

My eyes shifted upwards, looking at the lighthouse we had just been inside. The light from its beacon cut through the mist and stretched far out over the sea, and as I looked up at it, I realised that even abandoning the Monolith still served its purpose. At one point, half of that purpose had been to launch submarines but the other half was to see sailors safely home.

Looking around at the dead men around me I realised that these were those sailors who had been claimed by the sea, home at last.

“Let go! Let go!” Darren screamed and his cries brought me back to reality. I looked ahead of us, to where the dead sailors were trying to drag us. I could hear the waves crashing against the rocks and a spike of panic rose in my chest.

They were bringing us to the sea and if they did not stop, they’d drag us to the watery depths that they’d come from and then we, like them, would be of the sea. Dead things bound to return to this place by whatever unnatural thing had risen them from their graves.

No. No, I didn’t want to die. Not like this.

With all of my strength, I struggled and fought. I brought my leg around to kick at the sailor who was dragging me but he barely seemed to flinch and his grip didn’t let up.

“No, no, no!”

My frantic screams didn’t register with me at first but when they did, they actually unnerved me. My eyes were wide open as I struggled against the grip of the sailor dragging me to my death. I wished we’d never heard of the Monolith. I wished we’d never come to this wretched place. We were so close to the rocks now and I braced my feet against them, trying to hold some sort of ground and stop myself from being dragged into oblivion. The sailor dragging me paused, only for a moment and I saw an opening. I kicked at his knee suddenly and I felt it snap and bend in half. He didn’t make a sound. His grip didn’t even let up, but he did fall.

I moved to stand over him and twisted his arm back behind him until I heard the bone snap. His grip on me loosened and I felt a sudden spike of joy. I was free.


I looked over at Darren, and as I did I saw other dead-eyed sailors looking at me. I saw their bodies moving towards me. If I ran for Darren, they would have gotten me. There was no way to free him and fight off more of those cold, undead things. No… I couldn’t do that.

I took a step back, clearing the way for the dead sailors to drag Darren to the edge of the sea as he screamed my name.


I couldn’t, though.

I’d tried, we’d both have ended up dead. Even if I’d succeeded, that wound in his leg was too serious. He’d have no way to run, and even if he’d made it to my car, he’d have bled out before we got him to safety! No… No… Darren was dead the moment he’d fallen. The camera was clutched in his hand and I almost went in to grab it. Almost.

What few photographs we’d taken were not worth my life, though. I would not be returning to the Monolith, that much was for sure and I left it behind along with Darren as I turned to run.

“JAMES!” I heard him scream after me but I didn’t look back.


I ran as fast as my legs could carry me, sprinting past the sluggish dead things and towards the hole we’d cut in the fence. I didn’t stop until I was inside my car and speeding off down the road we’d come down.

In my rear-view mirror, I saw the shapes of what were once men trying to pursue me but I was free of them. Soon, they vanished into the mist along with Darren’s final cries.

I will not return to the Monolith.

I have seen all that I needed to see of that place and I know that no good can come of being there. I know that among the dead things that may arise from the sea as the mist overtakes the old fortress, there is a figure with the face of a friend.

Perhaps Darren is dead and gone for good. Perhaps his corpse doesn’t rise with the others… But I’m happy never knowing for sure. Too many nights, I’ve woken up in a cold sweat from a dream of Darren wrapping his cold, dead hands around my throat and dragging me from my bed… and some nights I swear I hear the steady drip of water onto my bedroom floor.

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