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Buttercup

A ghost story

By Allie MacBainPublished 2 years ago 8 min read
91755869 © publicdomainstockphotos | Dreamstime.com

The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night a candle burned in the window. Sadie had lit it, along with a dozen others, in the hopes it would make the place cozier. It wasn’t working. She suspected the log cabin had always been rough around the edges, but, after years of neglect, it was almost uninhabitable. If it hadn’t had a fairly solid roof, she probably wouldn’t have decided to stay here. But the place was wind and waterproof, so she’d done what she could to make it more pleasant. She’d spent all day dusting, mopping floors and washing down the walls just to make it clean enough to sleep in. It would take a lot more work to make the place comfortable, but at least she’d made a start.

Tomorrow, she would begin the mammoth task of painting the interior and swapping out some of the rickety old furniture for the nice new pieces she’d brought with her from the city. Once that was done, she would add some pictures, a colorful rug, and a few throw pillows. With any luck, that would make it feel homelier for Cal coming down at the weekend. Her husband worked his butt off all week at the bank and it would be great for them to have this place to retreat to during his downtime.

It had come as a bit of a surprise to her to learn the cabin had been left to her by some distant relative. She couldn’t place an Uncle Henry on her family tree, but, apparently, he’d written her into his will more than a decade ago. She’d had Cal check it all out and everything was above board.

At first, she wasn’t sure what she would do with a property eighty miles upstate, in the middle of a vast forest. She’d immediately thought about selling it, but Cal persuaded her to at least look over the cabin before deciding. She’d come for a visit and had known straight away that she could never part with it. Though the cabin itself was dilapidated, there was nothing that couldn’t be fixed, and the location was incredible. Just a few hundred yards away was the most beautiful lake. Surrounded by pine trees, it felt like her own private paradise when the sun glinted off the azure waves.

After that visit, she’d counted the days until she could return to fix the old place up. Already, she felt like she’d made a vast improvement and by the time she was finished, this would be her own slice of heaven on Earth.

As darkness drew in, Sadie decided she’d done enough work for one day. Pulling a blanket around her shoulders, she made herself comfortable on the sofa and surveyed the room around her. Though she was grateful for the candlelight, since there was no electricity, she was unnerved by the eerie atmosphere it created. Strange shadows were cast against the walls and a shiver ran down her spine as a draft tickled the back of her neck.

Drawing the woolen blanket tighter around herself, she picked up her cellphone from the side table. There was no signal out here, but she’d downloaded a new book she was dying to read. She barely made it past the first page, before the window flew open and a sudden gust blew out all the candles in the room. Sighing, she switched on the torch on her phone and walked over to close the window. A tremor shook her as something passed in front of the trees. It wasn’t an animal. The figure was larger than that. Her heart pounded. Was there somebody out there? No, of course there wasn’t. She was tired and her mind was playing tricks.

Closing the window and making sure the latch was fastened, she turned and headed for the bedroom. She changed quickly into her pajamas and got into bed. It had an old-fashioned wrought iron frame, and the mattress was a bit lumpy, but she’d cleaned it up and had put fresh sheets on it. She pulled the blankets up over her and rested her head on the pillow.

The silence was incredible, so unlike the city. Even though they lived in a quiet neighborhood, there was always some noise as traffic went by or people came and went from their homes at all hours of the night. Here, though, there was none of that. It was almost like everything had stopped. With no wind tonight, there wasn’t even the rustling of leaves in the trees.

As Sadie closed her eyes and drifted toward sleep, she was startled by a sudden creaking that came from the living room. It was followed almost immediately by another. She sat up, eyes fixed on the door as the strange noises continued.

“It’s a wood cabin,” she told herself. “It’s just settling.”

As the sounds stopped, she breathed a sigh of relief. Her shoulders sagged, but before her head could hit the pillow, she heard something else. Music. The breath caught at the back of her throat as it grew louder. The song was an old one. “Build Me Up Buttercup.” She had no idea where it was coming from. Grabbing the cellphone from the nightstand, she realized there was no signal. Her whole body trembled as the door handle jiggled. There was someone out there. Terror gripped her as her heart pounded. She looked around for a weapon she might use, but there was nothing. Pressing herself back against the bars of the headboard, she waited for someone to enter, but they didn’t. The door handle stopped moving, the music faded, and she found herself in silence once more.

Sadie wasn’t sure how she managed to fall asleep, but, as she jolted awake with the sun streaming in through the window, she realized she’d slept through the night. She got out of bed and padded over to the door. Her hand hovered over the handle as she considered what might lie beyond.

“Don’t be stupid,” she said aloud. “There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

Taking a deep breath, she pulled the door open and peered out into the main room of the cabin. There was nobody there. Her shoulders sagged in relief. She walked across the wooden floor to the kitchen area to make herself a cup of coffee. Her eyebrows drew down into a deep frown as she noticed something that hadn’t been there before. A single buttercup sat in a glass of water by the sink. She had no clue how it had got there. She looked around for signs that someone else had been in the cabin, but there was nothing obvious. The door and windows were all closed. It didn’t look as though anything had been disturbed, so how on earth had the flower got there?

Spooked, she returned to the bedroom and dressed quickly in jeans and a t-shirt. She slipped on her shoes and went outside to look around the outside of the cabin. As she walked around, she found nothing out of place. It didn’t seem as if anyone had been there, which meant she must have put the flower in the glass herself. She couldn’t remember doing it. Shaking her head, she tutted at herself for being silly. A single day of solitude, and she was already going mad.

As she headed back inside, she noticed her car’s headlights were on. Damn. That was all she needed. She hurried inside to fetch the keys and came back out to check the battery still had some life in it. She turned the key in the ignition and groaned. The car was dead. That was all she needed, since it was a five-mile trek over rough terrain to get back to the main road. With her cellphone unable to get a signal, she was stuck out here. Still, it was only a couple more days until Cal was due to come down, and she had plenty of food to keep her going. She could stick it out.

She returned to the kitchen and got out the croissants she’d bought at a little bakery on her way up here. As she was slathering butter onto one, something behind her crackled. She turned, eyes scanning the room for the source of the noise, and spotted an old radio on the table behind the main door to the cabin. The crackling got louder, so she went over and picked it up. There didn’t seem to be a dial to tune it, which seemed odd. She shook the radio and dropped it in surprise as music came on. Her heart skipped a beat as she heard the lyrics, “why do you build me up, buttercup?” It was the same song as last night.

She turned the little brown and gold radio over and found the off-switch. As the music was silenced, he put the radio down and went back to preparing her breakfast. The moment she picked up the butter knife, the music started again. Irritated, she marched back to the radio and checked the off switch. She had definitely turned it off. She flicked the switch the other way, but the music continued playing. In fact, it seemed to be getting louder. The damned thing had to be broken. The batteries had to die out eventually, but she wasn’t prepared to put up with that noise until it did. Opening the door, she hurled the radio out into the woods.

There. Now she’d have some peace. She grabbed her croissant and took it over to the table. As she sat, a piece of paper drifted down in front of her. Charred around the edges, it looked like a cutting from a newspaper. Its lettering was faded, a clear sign of age.

“Search for missing woman continues,” Sadie read the headline out loud.

She studied the photograph carefully. Though the picture was in black and white, the woman was clearly a blonde, her hair long with a slight wave. Her eyes were big and guileless, her lips a perfect bow. Sadie shuddered. It could almost be her.

A breath skated over the skin at the back of her neck, and she leapt to her feet. She spun around, but there was nobody there. A gravelly voice whispered in her ear. “Return to me.”

Sadie’s pulse raced. Her hands trembled, and she stared in horror as red lettering appeared on the walls. “You’re mine.”

Enough was enough. Whether her mind was playing tricks or something more sinister was going on, it was time to leave. Grabbing her cellphone, she headed for the door. As she tried to cross the threshold, an icy hand gripped her shoulder, pulling her back into the house. She struggled to free herself, but her unseen attacker was too strong.

“Never leave me again,” a voice whispered words which were both a demand and a plea.

Sadie screamed as she was pulled into the bathroom, where a tub full of water awaited her. She fought with every ounce of strength she possessed as she was thrown into the icy water. Pushed beneath its surface, she lashed out, arms and legs flailing. Panic gripped her entire body. Then the music came again and a strange calm washed over her. Standing above her, she saw the vague outline of a man. Tall and thin, his head was cocked to the side as he watched her. His mouth moved as she slipped into unconsciousness. “Welcome home, buttercup.”

Horror

About the Creator

Allie MacBain

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