Safety in the lighthouse is a questionable proposition.
“Orphans!” yells the older man, the one whose name you don’t know. “Now be an excellent time t’ paint the lighthouse. Gettin’ kind of flaky up there, it be. Storm’s comin’ in tomorrow.”
The Good Son raises a hand. “Orphans can’t be everyone’s solution to not having enough employees.”
“MOTHERFUCKER,” yells Winslow, who is attempting to fix the coal generator that spins the lighthouse beam. “Underpaid, overworked an’ the mermaid won’t call me back. Regular paradise, this is. DAMMIT.”
Everybody looks over to the shed where the curses are coming from, then back at the old man.
“Ron’t ye be worryin’ about no mermaids,” says the old man, talking around his pipe as he refills it. “Overyone knows there be no such things as mermaids.”
Reluctantly, you agree to paint the lighthouse. Pulling straws, Batman ends up riding the rickety swing harness up to the top of the lighthouse.
“How does this work?” he asks, trying to rock closer to the brickwork. “Any way I want?” Noticing he’s been handed a pail of white paint, he asks the old man if he’s considered black.
“Sure,” says the old man mockingly. “‘Twill be grand to have a black lighthouse, and collect ships on the rock below. Off you go, now.”
This may come as a surprise to you, but Ursula Underwood is actually a very good person, if we measure people by what they’re trying to do, rather than what they get done. She gets up each morning when the dog-shaped alarm clock she bought in middle school goes off, puts on her Power Slippers, and heads off to help the unparented children of the world. The fact that the unparented children frequently do not benefit from her attention is not entirely her fault.
Owenthrop asked me once if you should be judged by goals or outcomes, and I cannot truly answer that question. As you know by now, Robin “Spooky” Amiko wanted to give BOO a vast sum of money which would have ameliorated many of the troubles these orphans are currently experiencing. (“Ameliorated” is a word which here means “buried under money.”) Is it Robin’s fault that she was tragically struck by a meteorite just before she could sign the check? I believe it is not.
As Robin herself told me, just before her death, it’s sometimes enough to start with the right idea. The full solution can be worked out later.
Dinner is a tense affair conducted around a single blinding kerosene lantern in an otherwise completely dark kitchen. You have no idea what you’re eating, except that it’s mashed. Even the meat.
“That were a good job o’ painting today,” says the old man approvingly to Batman. “Sorry about the line breaking like that.”
“Just buy some new rope, old man,” says Winslow in exasperation. “Jesus.”
“That’s why I have a grappling hook,” says Batman.
“Tomorrow, you’ll all be helpin’ me board up fer the storm,” says the man. “Ye be wantin’ to turn in early for that.”
There’s no room in the lighthouse house, so you’re sent to sleep in the generator shed.
“This coal isn’t so hard,” says Is Twite, curling up in a heap of it. “Lignite, maybe. I’ve slept on worse.”
You bunk down next to the spinning, creaking machine and drift off. Except one.
“You,” says Euphemia Whimsy, standing over Colonel Mustard. “You’re one of them. I know it!”
She then drags his sleeping body down to the shore, loads it into a dinghy, and procedes to execute an absolutely Rube Goldberg murder that ends with Mustard waking up, furiously rowing back to shore towards a fake lighthouse and dying on the rocks.
Colonel Mustard has died. He was a GENERIC ORPHAN.
“God damn it,” says Euphemia Whimsy. “I was so sure.”
“So are we,” says a familiar voice directly behind her.
Euphemia Whimsy (ThoughtsThoughtsThoughts) has died. She was the INVENTOR.
(Mod note: Because we’re out of backups, Mustard wasn’t sent to the graveyard, and will instead be replacing Gramps (Batman) (no the other Batman). He will assume Gramps’ role and powers (or lack thereof).)
You wake under a gray sky to the honking of a minivan horn.
“Children!” says Ursula, running up the mud walk to the lighthouse. “Wonderful news! I’ve found relatives who have an actual house and who promise not to make you do manual labor.”
“What be the meanin’ of this?” asks the old man, stepping outside in his bathrobe and booty shorts.
“How many orphans have died since I was here last?” asks Ursula, breathlessly.
“Oh, I’m sure they’re all fi-” He looks down and sees Euphemia lying face-down in the mud. “Well, alright, maybe one, but-” An especially high wave deposits Mustard’s drowned corpse next to Euphemia.
“WHO ATE ALL THE COAL?” howls Winslow from the shed.
“Maybe you should just take the orphans back,” says the old man. “‘Twas nice meetin’ all of ye.”
The last thing you see, as the minivan drives away, is a gust of wind snapping back his bathrobe and the words ENEMY OF THE STATE on his ass.
“I promise this is going to be good,” says Ursula. Her phone rings. “NOT NOW, MARIN.” Click. “You’ll be sent to live with some formerly orphaned siblings who aged out of the foster system. They’re just lovely people, and they seemed really, really mad at me for giving you to so many other people first.”
You’re back in the city now, and driving through a suspiciously nice area of well-kept houses. It can’t be this easy, can it? But, at last, the minivan pulls to a halt in front of the nicest house of all. An ornate wrought iron fence surrounds it, and the filigreed metal archway over the walk says BAUDELAIRE.
Today will feature an event! At 5 PM EST on Saturday, June 27, you’ll be able to talk with the Baudelaires, the protagonists of the A Series of Unfortunate Events books. Maybe they can help you? If nothing else, you’ll be able to talk with people who are sympathetic.
Twilight is Sunday, June 28, at 12 PM EST.