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A White Mountain's Mystery: The Cabin - Chapter 4

Chapter 4 of A White Mountains Mystery: The Cabin, made for Judey Kalchik's Birthday Mystery Challenge

By Matthew FrommPublished 7 months ago Updated 7 months ago 9 min read
15
A White Mountain's Mystery: The Cabin - Chapter 4
Photo by Olivier Guillard on Unsplash

This is chapter 4 of an ongoing, collaborative story. You can catch up below:

Chapter 4

He crawled along the forest floor as branches and pine needles lashed against his face. The creature moved before him, guiding him through the undergrowth. Its face was obscured, but the thing was no larger than a child. Its only discernible feature was skin textured like bark that shimmered depending on its proximity to the foliage.

He knew instinctively that he was not here on the forest floor and was somewhere else entirely. Indeed, there was a wrongness about everything around him that he knew it truly to be an illusion. But he also instinctively knew that he had been here upon firm ground once, which seemed important. So, he followed the strange creature born of his memory despite the flogging from the woods.

Blood dripped down his forearms as he emerged from the depths into a small clearing.

He paused.

Yes, he knew this place. Why he came here the first time, he could not say. Why he came here now, he did not know.

A small cave stood opposed to him across the clearing. The creature walked towards it, and he felt as if all of the answers lay in the shadow of that cave.

As he watched, another, much more prominent figure morphed out of the stone cliffs surrounding the cave entrance. He walked forward, and this new figure mirrored his movements with uncanny accuracy. If he stepped left, it matched his gait exactly.

He looked down and watched as drops of blood rained down on his shoes, the ones his mother had gotten him for his thirteenth birthday. He had loved those shoes, had begged her for weeks for them, only to lose them in the woods. Yet, as she stood there yelling at him in their kitchen, he remembered the voice that whispered in his ear, “It’s fine. She can’t hurt you while I’m here.”

The childlike creature entered the cave. He moved to follow it.

This new figure blocked his path, its fuzzy features becoming clearer as he approached.

It shook its head at him in silent denial of his quest.

It hit him then–a rush of guilt that brought him to his knees.

A scream pierced the sound of gentle rain tapping against the glass, the harbinger of a coming calm night. Both Danny and Carter started from where they had dozed off and ran back to the bedroom, chasing the sound of the scream.

“He’s burning up, he’s burning up,” Megan repeated over and over again as Grace sat next to her, trying her best to calm her friend. Megan held a cloth to Oscar’s head, her eyes red and out of tears.

“We could hear him whimpering from the other room,” Sarah said to the two boys as they entered the bedroom. She leaned in, just enough so that only they could hear her, “I’m no medical expert, but I checked him out, and there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with him…A fever this bad wouldn’t just hit out of nowhere. He was fine on the way here, right?” Sarah said as if pleading with them to say he spent the entire trip complaining of a headache.

“I trust you; he was fine on the way here,” Carter said. He took her hand while Danny nodded absently.

“Yeah, he was perfect,” Danny said, rubbing his eyes. His gaze hadn’t left Oscar.

“It’s okay,” Megan whispered to Oscar.

“Any way we can keep him quiet?” Danny asked as he leaned toward the end of the bed.

“Fuck you!” Megan yelled, snapping out of her mantra. “He’s sick, damn it.”

Sarah glared at him while Carter stood chewing his lip. The last vestiges of rain rolled down the bedroom windows. Drip…Drip…Drip…

“Sorry, all I meant is that if someone’s out there, it probably doesn’t do us any good to have him screaming,” Danny said, putting his hands up. “Didn’t mean anything by it.”

“He’s right. Look, he’s getting worse with all of us here. Megan, you okay to sit with him?” Carter said. Sarah agreed silently and glanced out the window, and the darkness beyond made her skin crawl. There was something out there–she had stared into its eyes. Now, as she looked beyond the four walls that served as their only protection, she ran through every methodical process she could think of to convince herself it was nothing more than a rabid raccoon. It was a futile effort.

“Yeah, I’ll be okay,” Megan said, bringing Sarah back to the present.

“It’s getting dark. I saw some candles while I was looking for that binder. Let’s see if we can get those lit and save some of that fuel.” Carter said, doing his best to take charge. The rest of them nodded in agreement.

“Here they are,” Danny said as the four of them returned to the kitchen.

“Shit, didn’t Mason have the lighter?” Sarah asked no one in particular.

“Yeah, he did. Try that stove there, Danny; the burner might spark them if we’re lucky,” Grace said. “Sarah, Mason, look around. We will need to look for Mason sooner rather than later if this storm is letting up. See if there’s a map or literally anything.”

The clack of an old burner filled the air as Mason and Sarah rummaged again through cabinets and closets, trying to find anything to arm themselves with in their hunt.

“Hell yes,” Danny said as the glow of candlelight started to fill the room.

“Great, pass me one of them, Danny. I’ll run it to Megan,” Grace said before disappearing back toward the bedrooms.

“You doing okay?” Carter asked Sarah as the two bent behind a large ottoman with storage below the cushion. There was little within.

“Yeah, doing fucking amazing,” Sarah said as she lifted some blankets out.

“I know. Just don’t know what else to say. I’m not sure how you’re still upright,” Carter said, and Sarah fought the urge to laugh at the absurdity of the suggestion. Her legs currently had the structural integrity of jelly. She wanted to respond, to lie to him and say it would all be alright.

“Guys, something’s out there,” Danny said before she could. He stood at the window facing out toward the campfire.

“What is it? Is it big?” Sarah asked as she and Carter appeared by his side.

“I’m not sure, but I think we should go back by the others.”

Instead, Sarah grabbed one of the candles and moved toward the door, every memory of the thing that attacked her and Megan doing its best to hold her back. If it was Mason, she was going to bring him back behind these walls. Back to where they were safe.

“Don’t go out there!” Danny yelled, reaching for her arm. Sarah ignored him while Carter stood rooted to the spot, his fear overtaking him. His eyes were wide, but he said nothing as she slammed the door behind her.

The cold, wet breeze of twilight licked against her skin. She moved slowly across the yard toward where it lay. A branch broke somewhere deep in the woods, and she shuddered but kept her grip on her candle.

“It’s fine…it’s fine…” she whispered unconvincingly to herself. Each breath bellowed in her ears like a church bell. Her foot kicked something a few inches ahead, startling her. Keeping her resolve, Sarah lowered the candle and saw one of the stakes, a hot dog still skewered on the end of it. She bent down and picked the thing up. That rabid thing was still almost certainly out here somewhere. How had this gone downhill so quickly? She glanced back towards the window, where Sarah swore she saw the outlines of Carter and Danny’s faces. The minute she got inside, Carter was getting a swift kick to the balls for not coming with her. So much for playing the big, tough comic book hero…

She bellowed a silent scream as the fringes of her candlelight illuminated the sleeve of his red flannel. Sarah covered the final few paces in a sprint and collapsed at his side. Her heart threatened to beat out of her chest as she scrambled in vain across Mason’s body, the candle and stake now abandoned. Sarah felt the wetness between her fingers as she tried to find his pulse, blood still dripping from the wound across his neck.

Shock overtook her, and her mind went numb. As if she had become a marionette, she cast the flame to his face, a face that always had held a smile and a joke. His eyes were closed, and if she looked hard enough, she swore he was sleeping. It was almost as if a shadow of a smile still painted his lips.

She laid across him to shield him from the rain when she realized it was her tears soaking her face.

Sarah felt it stabbing against her chest where it sat in his breast pocket. She pulled the dense object and slipped it into her own almost entirely on instinct. It was a slender thing that clung to her hip tightly. An animal voice deep in the back of her head, the one that tells you not to stick your hand in the dog's mouth, said it was necessary.

Her right hand brushed against something wet on the ground, and she jumped backward, holding the candle before her like a great shield. The air around her stilled as if the very forest simply turned off. A silence more resounding than any Sarah had ever experienced before enveloped her.

Her handprint had smeared the first word written there in crimson, blood-soaked dirt, but the message gripped her heart like a vice.

The Devil sleeps amongst you.

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A/N

I hope you enjoyed this chapter! Next up is the wonderfully talented ThatWriterWoman. Follow her to get the next chapter. I for one am very excited to see what happens to our ohh so innocent friends from New England.

you can view all of my works here:

HorrorFictionCliffhanger
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About the Creator

Matthew Fromm

Full-time nerd, history enthusiast, and proprietor of random knowledge. The best way to find your perfect story is to make it yourself.

Here there be dragons, and knights, and castles, and quests for entities not wished to be found.

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (12)

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  • Randy Wayne Jellison-Knock5 months ago

    Intriguing, to say the least.

  • Celia in Underland5 months ago

    Bloody hell! That took a turn- Brilliantly done! 🤍

  • ThatWriterWoman6 months ago

    Matthew, I cannot express how much I adore this chapter! I am so blessed that this is the one I get to build on! You build atmosphere in spades and that TWIST! Killing of the main? What a move! Brilliantly done!

  • Doc Sherwood7 months ago

    Superb continuation! A terrifying climax, and the mystery just keeps deepening even as the characters further unfold. How is it going to end - and how many of of our hapless holidaymakers will still be there when it does?!

  • Donna Renee7 months ago

    Whoaaaaa things are getting intense!!! 🫣🫣😁 great work!!!

  • Kenny Penn7 months ago

    Ho.Ly.Shit! That was great! Well done Matthew! All the hairs on my neck are standing straight up!

  • Mark Gagnon7 months ago

    Skin like tree bark, a larger creature mimicking his moves, and returning to a familiar place, what a great way to keep people reading. I'm a little confused about Sarah's heart beating out of her heart, but the story kept me captivated from beginning to end.

  • JBaz7 months ago

    Another well thought out addition to a wonderful on going story.

  • Judey Kalchik 7 months ago

    Oh boy! I LOVE never knowing what is going to happen and then reading while my mind's eye sees it unfold! Marvelous!

  • Ian Read7 months ago

    Published just in time for me to actually be driving through the White Mountains for family stuff lol. Awesome job, man!

  • Lamar Wiggins7 months ago

    That was awesome! Well worth the wait! You created an pronounced sense of fear, panic and mystery. Great work!!!

  • Amanda Starks7 months ago

    Ooooh yes, yes, yes!! I like this direction. Wonderful use of diction to set the atmosphere, too!!

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