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A White Mountains Mystery: The Cabin - Chapter 7

Made for Judey Kalchik's Birthday Mystery Challenge

By Amanda StarksPublished 9 months ago Updated 9 months ago 11 min read
Top Story - October 2023
A White Mountains Mystery: The Cabin - Chapter 7
Photo by Simon Berger on Unsplash

It's highly recommended that you re-read Chapter 4 by Matthew Fromm as major plot points will be referring back to the content in that chapter.

And of course if you are new to this series: start from the beginning!

By Hendrik Morkel on Unsplash

Fierce panting and groaning echoed in the late quiet night as Megan helped Sarah stumble into the Cabin. It was eerily silent despite the chaos of the past six hours, and neither of them felt the need to break that silence.

Sarah was on the verge of tears as Megan cleared away an old table in the kitchen space, urging her to lay down flat on her back so she could assess her friend's injuries.

Sarah's eyes blinked away her tears so she could look into Megan's face - only to be horrified by what she saw.

"Megan - your face!"

Megan winced. Her cheeks were lined with thick, bright red marks and streaks of blood. Some of the skin one one side of her cheek bone had been peeled back by whatever had attacked her.

"I know, it's a shame isn't it? My influencer career was just getting started." Megan's lame attempt at lightening the mood was ignored as Sarah began to put the pieces together.

"Wh-where's Oscar?" Sarah asked the one question Megan didn't want to answer, but the time for secrets and white lies was long past.

Megan's hands shook as she slowly pealed Sarah's shirt up so she could see her bruised ribs. "He went completely mad," she said, her voice muted by shock. "He charged me...I had no choice." Megan's voice broke then, all her bravery and bravado from minutes earlier vanishing like dew in the morning sun.

"Oh...oh, Megan." Sarah's eyes squeezed shut as tears threatened to come forth once more. How had an innocent birthday getaway come to this? First Mason, then Carter, and now Oscar. "I'm so sorry."

By Sirisvisual on Unsplash

Megan sniffed, shaking her head as if to shake off her emotions. "It's fine, it's fine. We just gotta get out of here, and find help." She looked back down at her friend and winced, now seeing the full extent of Sarah injuries. "Your ribs..."

"They're broken, aren't they?" Sarah laughed, hiding her face under her arm. "This can't get any worse, surely?"

But it was already worse. Carter was dead, and she had let her emotions get in the way of being a decent human being before they died.

Megan said nothing, instead turning away and heading toward the cabinets in the kitchen. "I'm sure there is a medical kit somewhere, or at least something I can use to bandage you up."

Sarah kept her breaths steady and shallow as Megan rummaged through the cabinets - several cups, utensils, and food cans rattling or falling completely to the floor in her haste. She made her way to a closet tucked in a corner next to the fridge, opening it and coughing as dust wafted up in her face.

"God, this place is so gross! It wasn't bad enough that the owner's never refilled the gas for the generator, but it seems they never cleaned up either."

Sarah smirked through her pain. "You know you just clubbed a disgusting monster out of a Halloween special with a flaming branch..."

Megan let a small smile filter through as she scoured the shelves. "True, but at least that was bad ass."

Sarah laughed, cutting it short as her ribs screamed. "It was bad ass."

Finally, Megan located a red medical emergency kit, but as she pulled it off the shelf, something slim and rectangular slipped from under the box and onto the floor.

Curious, she crouched down and picked it up, turning it over to discover it was an old photograph in a simple wooden frame.

Her eyes widened as she beheld the couple and the young boy in the picture.

"Um, Sarah?"

"Yeah?" Sarah looked up as Megan approached with the med kit and the photograph, her friend's face ashen.

"Look at the boy in this photo...doesn't he look familiar to you?"

Sarah took the photo and held it up to her face, her eyes narrowing as she assessed the people in the photo.

The couple were rather ordinary; a white man and a woman with different shades of brown hair. Behind them was the cabin - newly refurbished; the wood paneling fitting nicely into the aesthetic of the forested background. At their feet was the fire pit also looking rather spiffy. Between them, barely standing as tall as their hips, was a round-faced boy with familiar warm eyes.

“I know you ain’t a New Englander like us, but you’re just inviting some bad karma there!”

“What, you scared of the dark?”

“This is great! When was the last time we all did this?”

Sarah felt the wetness between her fingers as she tried to find his pulse, blood still dripping from the wound across his neck.

Sarah slowly lowered the photo, letting it rest on her chest. "That's Mason..."

"But he said he'd never been here before?" Megan said, her statement ending as a question.

Sarah nodded, her mind spinning. "Maybe he just forgot?"

Megan shook her head, resting the med kit on the end of the table and opening it. "Whatever. Everything here is messed up. Let's just get you bandaged and get the fuck out of here."

Sarah didn't push the topic further, but her thoughts couldn't help but sink into a long, dark rabbit hole of suspicion as she thought back to the last several hours; their drive into the White Mountains, the 'animal' that had jumped in front of their car, the convenient road blockage, missing gasoline, and lack of upkeep for the cabin. Mason and Oscar were the first to go missing, and then Mason was the first to die...

"Shit, Sarah, you're burning up!"

Sarah jolted out of her thoughts, her gaze focusing back onto her friend. "What?"

Megan had only managed a single wrap around her chest while Sarah had been deep in thought, but that wasn't what made Sarah's thoughts completley spiral.

Megan placed the back of her hand onto Sarah's head, and it felt like someone had placed an ice pack on her skin.

Alarm bells rang in Sarah's mind and she quickly pushed Megan away.

"Get away!"

"What?"

"The creature; it touched me like it touched Oscar. If Carter had survived he probably would be..."

"You mean-" Megan paused, realization and horror crawling up her face. "Wait - Sarah - oh my god, that's what Oscar said."

"What did he say?" Sarah shivered, finishing up the wrapping around her ribs with clenched teeth.

"He said, 'don't let him touch your skin' - he said that right before he died!" Megan was beginning to hyperventilate, but Sarah was determined to understand this.

"He? Oscar called the monster 'he'?"

Megan breathed in sharply and exhaled loudly. Her hands were rubbing her upper arms as she tried to control her reaction. "Yeah - yeah he said he was the one who escaped justice on the radio broadcast-"

By Frank Albrecht on Unsplash

Sarah's memory snapped in place. "The announcement on the radio in French? Could Oscar understand French?"

Megan shook her head. "Fuck, I don't know, Sarah, he was a politics major from Arizona! I don't think he would need to understand French?"

"Then how would he know..."

Megan sighed, her breathing somewhat normalizing. "Does it matter? I think what's more important is the fact that that thing is capable of making us sick by touching us. And-and Oscar touched me-"

Sarah reached a hand out to comf0rt Megan before thinking better of it. Instead she slowly sat up, feeling lightheaded and dizzy. "I think you would be showing symptoms by now if that's how it worked." Indeed, Sarah was starting to feel the affects of the fever now. Her body felt hot but she was still shivering, and her vision was getting blurry.

Suddenly, the door to the Cabin burst open, and a bloodied Danny wandered into the space, his eyes resting on the two at the table.

"Da-Danny?" Megan asked, her hands shaking at her sides at the sight of blood on him.

"Grace is dead," Danny croaked out, his voice spent. Megan and Sarah froze in place as he continued. "The creature attacked us and got her. I ran - I think it's coming back this way." He looked closer at Sarah, whose peeled back shirt revealed the bandages around her ribs. "Can you run?"

"Run?" Megan closed her hands into fists, shock at the news of Grace's death forgotten as she walked up to Danny with a glare on her scarred face. "Does it look like we are in any condition to run?"

Sarah kept silent as the room spun around her. The photo of the young Mason lay in her lap, staring up at her with those friendly eyes that now mocked her.

There's too many unknowns; too many questions with no clear answers. She raised her eyes to Danny whose famously calm demeanor stood in stark contrast to the blood on his hands.

Blood on his hands. How was there so much blood on his hands?

"We need to make a break for the van," Danny said. "It's our only choice at this point."

Something hot burned in her jean pocket. Like she was pulled along on strings, Sarah lowered her hand into it, clutching a small piece of paper scribbled over in red lettering.

The message left on Mason's body: the Devil sleeps amongst you.

"And how do you suggest we get around that monster roaming outside?" Megan pointed a finger at his chest. "We can't outrun it!"

This snapped Sarah out of her fevered pondering, taking everything they had learned and seen into consideration. "Chemicals," she said, catching the other two off guard.

"What?"

"The bug spray and the gasoline." Sarah slid to the edge of the table, slowly pushing herself to stand, leaning against the table legs. "That creature reacted violently to coming into contact with those substances."

Danny shrugged. "Well, it's worth a shot."

Megan groaned. "Just don't bring bleach. It will ruin my nails."

___

And there they were, the last three of the White Mountains birthday party, hobbling down the dirt road toward the abandoned van.

But the further they went from the cabin clutching their assorted bottles of window cleaner, dish soap and - to Megan's disgust - bleach, the more Sarah's mind dug deeper into the rabbit hole of conspiracy.

"Danny...where is Grace's body?"

Danny looked over his shoulder, appearing confused. "I...I didn't have the chance to turn back and look for her, Sarah."

By Dave Hoefler on Unsplash

He sounded genuinely remorseful, but that nagging photograph kept painting itself behind her eyelids. The forest around them was barely beginning to lighten as the sun was soon to rise, but knowing her circumstances, she had a bone-deep feeling she wouldn't see it's light in the sky ever again.

"Did you know...Mason had been here before?"

This got Danny to pause, turning fully around to face Sarah. "What do you mean?

Megan looked between them, her eyes narrowing. "We found a photograph of him when he was younger - way younger - in the cabin. With all the dust, it'd been there for some time."

"Why does this matter?" Danny asked in that collected tone. "Let's just focus on getting out of here-"

"Because everyone else is DEAD!" Sarah's voice shot out like gunshots, startling birds in the branches above them. "Mason, Oscar, Carter. You were the one who picked this place out, Danny. If you know something - say something!"

Megan grasped Sarah's arm, giving her support as Sarah's legs had started to shake. She felt like a wax candle; she was melting away on unstable ground, and there was nothing to hold onto besides a growing flame.

Danny's eyes glistened with unushered tears, his jaw clenched tightly as he spoke.

"Mason wasn't supposed to die."

Megan's expression became severe, her eyes becoming accusatory and hostile. In a show that made Sarah smile, Megan stepped between her and Danny, one arm stretched out with window cleaner in hand.

"What the fuck, Danny? What do you mean by that?"

Sarah's eyesight was blurring between near-sighted and far-sighted now, the forest and the dirt path melding together. She must have also been hallucinating as well, because from behind Danny, a tall figure suddenly manifested.

"I'm sorry."

Then, the world went black. Only the sound of Megan's angry and terrified screams echoed in the grim wood.

___

Megan awoke, soaked to the bone and laying in a fetal position on her side. Beneath the skin of her cheek, soft dirt created a makeshift cushion.

Adrenaline rushed through her as she remembered what had happened before she had been knocked out: Danny with blood on his hands; a tall figure with piercing, cold eyes watching from Danny's back; the unmistakable shape of a garotte wire revealing itself from within pale hands.

A raspy, rattling voice protruded from the space. "The experiment was a failure, but it should have been enough to kill all of them. I gave him the key to controlling it, and instead he lost his nerve in the end."

Megan's eyes opened to see that she was inside of a cave - a cave so overgrown that it was hard to tell what was stone and what was thick undergrowth. The ceiling was tall and open enough to have a campfire cast the shadows of the mystery person on the floor...a floor littered with bodies.

She covered her mouth before she could let out a scream. These bodies she knew - these bodies she had been alongside in a car driving through the White Mountains only some hours ago, joking about disgusting outhouses and getting the chance to see a wild moose.

Tears threatened to drown her, but she had to keep herself together. Someone had to get out of here alive.

Wait...Sarah! Where's Sarah?

Panicked, she swerved her head, keeping herself pressed to the floor of the cave. Within arm's reach of her, Sarah was sitting upright, her arms and legs bound by rusted chains that were bolted into a stone outcropping.

By Wolfgang Rathgeb on Unsplash

Danny's voice joined the first. "I don't know why he didn't command the prisoner either. He told me this was the only way..."

"Sarah!" Megan whispered, squirming in place to get closer to her friend.

Sarah turned her head, and Megan felt her veins turn to ice at the familiar expression on her face.

"Who is Sarah?"

"Who is Oscar?"

Megan felt the eyes of the mysterious figure then - a heavy weight that sent spiders crawling down her spine.

"Your friend promised me bodies all those years ago, Danny. Now that he is gone, the promise falls to you. The debt must be paid."

That sinister garotte wire was in Danny's hands now, and he was approaching her - slowly - a look of agony on his face.

Megan scrambled backward behind Sarah, looking for something to defend herself with, but there was only the bodies of her dead friends.

"Sarah!" She screamed. "Remember us!"

The Sarah she knew twitched in her chains, the veins in her arms and face bulging unnaturally.

"Sarah! Remember!"

Danny flinched, raising the wire over Megan just as a great, harrowing screech came out of Sarah's mouth.

The chain's broke, and another monster was let loose.

______

Author's Note:

Well, I tried my best to make sense of it all. In the end, I was drawn to the clues left behind by Matthew Fromm's chapter and decided to build the unraveling mystery around that opening dream sequence.

I hope I followed through on most of the loose ends left by my peers. Thank you to Judey for letting me join in on the fun, and thank you to the entire group for being as awesome and as supportive as you were!

Off to you now, Shauna Mullen!

ThrillerPlot TwistMysteryHorrorFiction

About the Creator

Amanda Starks

Lover of the dark, fantastical, and heart-wrenching. Fantasy writer, poet, and hopefully soon-to-be novelist who wants to create safe spaces to talk about mental health. Subscribe to my free newsletter at www.amandastarks.com for updates!

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Comments (17)

  • Esala Gunathilake3 months ago

    Congratulations on your top story.

  • I would say you did rather well, Amanda. I kept wondering if we would ever come back to the cave. But why do I keep thinking there was someone named Tommy at the beginning?

  • Test9 months ago

    Congratulations on achieving top story status! ❤️

  • Healty Life9 months ago

    woahhhhh.. your writing is aweome. I wish i could write like you

  • Matthew Fromm9 months ago

    I'm like a proud parent seeing this as top story :,)

  • Judey Kalchik 9 months ago

    So happy this was shared today and then picked as a Top Story! Congratulations!

  • Test9 months ago

    Congratulations on achieving top story status!

  • Lamar Wiggins9 months ago

    What a thrilling ride this was! I do believe I loved everything about it. Pivotal and jaw dropping. Excellent work, Amanda! and this just in...Congrats on your Top story!

  • "Mason wasn't supposed to die" That made a shiver run down my spine! You did such a fantastic job here! Can't wait for the next part!

  • Matthew Fromm9 months ago

    Ohh man this was wonderful! And I appreciate the call out. It’s quite the honor to have some of those sign posts brought to life.

  • Ian Read9 months ago

    This was outstanding!!!

  • Judey Kalchik 9 months ago

    Yay! This is an amazing work- tying together so many clues while at the same time leaving us yearning for the ultimate explanation. So well done, and your dialog is ON POINT!

  • Doc Sherwood9 months ago

    Incredible work. A penultimate chapter which both satisfies our desire to learn about this mystery, and shocks us with final revelations which no-one could have seen coming. You must have combed each previous installment exhaustively to identify which plot strands needed to be brought together for it all to work, and the effort surely pays off. It's a masterpiece!

  • Jūlija B9 months ago

    Wow. You really made me feel things. I knew I was invested, but now I actually felt my heart tremble, twist and break with each paragraph. Amazing work!

  • C.S LEWIS9 months ago

    this is a significant accomplishment. Your dedication, creativity, and hard work have paid off, and you should be proud of what you've achieved. Keep writing and sharing your unique voice with the world! you can also join my friends and read what i have just prepared for you

  • Kenny Penn9 months ago

    Omg yes!!! I loved it! Oh so creepy and with Danny being the twist! I was glued to it, fantastic job Amanda!

Amanda StarksWritten by Amanda Starks

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