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The Man in the Cabin

A horror story

By Luisa GilliesPublished 11 months ago 4 min read
The Man in the Cabin
Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window. Katie had been running around by herself, like she did most nights – exploring, pretending she was a soldier; uncovering woodlice from underneath damp stones, watching them scuttle around, and wondering what they were thinking about. When she saw the flickering candle out the corner of her eye, the jarring light made her realise how dark it had become. She ran home.


"A candle?" Susan repeated, raising her eyebrows suspiciously as she tucked her daughter into bed. The child really had too much of an imagination. "In the window?"

Katie nodded vigorously. "Tomorrow I'm going to have a look inside."

"You do that, sweetie. Maybe you could bring one of your classmates with you, eh?"

A kiss on the head, and lights off.


"–and I went back to that cabin, like I said I would," Katie was saying as she climbed into bed the following night, "remember?"


"And guess what?"


"I made a friend!"


Susan's face broke into an involuntarily large smile while she tried to avoid looking too surprised. Katie had trouble making friends – in fact, Susan wasn't sure if she'd ever really had one. There were those twins from down the road who had come to play a couple of times, but Susan had been forced to put a stop to that when she had discovered that Katie had been paying them to do so with her lunch money.

"I just wanted you to think I was normal," Katie had said, scrunching up her little freckled face with visible sadness.

Susan shook herself out of the memory. The important thing was that she'd now made a friend. A friend was a great achievement.


Katie was sitting cross-legged on the floor of the cabin. "Won't you come and meet my mother?"

"Oh, no," the man said, "I don't like to go into town."

"I could bring her here."

"No, no," the man said, "I'm too shy. Don't bring her here."


Susan was frowning as she gazed out the window, watching Katie fasten up her coat zip as she ran down the path towards the woodland. She had googled it, and apparently imaginary friends were quite normal at her age. But was it normal for their imaginary friend to be a middle-aged man?


"My mother thinks you don't exist," Katie said, sitting cross-legged on the floor.

"Well," the man said, sitting cross-legged in front of her, "what's the harm in that?"

"I don't want her to think I'm not normal. People make fun of me for it."

"Who makes fun of you?"

Katie looked at the ceiling, thinking. "Everyone at school. I hate it."


Susan was relieved to learn that nobody had been inside when the primary school burned down.

"Thank goodness," she said to Katie, "everything's alright. They'll rebuild it in time for next term. Everyone's okay."


When Mrs. Ashton, the head-mistress, went missing, Susan decided not to mention it to Katie. Better to wait until they figured out what had actually happened.


"I already knew that," Katie said.

Susan furrowed her eyebrows. She had sat her daughter down with a glass of water and taken her time to carefully explain that Mrs. Ashton had passed away – but not to worry, because she had gone to Heaven and the school would find a new head-mistress before term started.

"What do you mean, you already knew that?"

"My friend told me."

Susan sighed.


"Please," Katie said, sitting cross-legged on the floor.

"No, Katie," the man said. "Don't bring her here. This is my private home. You're welcome because you're my friend, but I don't want to meet your mother."

"I just want her to know that you're real."

"No. I'm shy. Don't bring her here. Don't bring her here, Katie."


Susain tossed around in bed, sweating more than usual, unable to sleep.


Susan stopped Katie before she ran out the door. "What's that on your face?"

"Oh." Katie hesitated, and Susan leaned in to get a better look at the cut on her daughter's cheek.

"What happened?" Susan demanded, placing her hands on Katie's shoulders and pulling her closer.

"Me and my friend got into a bit of an argument, but everything's fine now," Katie said in one breath, her eyes wide, then wriggled out of her mother's grasp and ran out the door.



Katie was crying hysterically. The man towered over her, staring down at her angrily.

"And where is she now?"

"I don't know," Katie sobbed, "I don't know."


By the time Susan found the cabin, sweat was coating her like clingfilm. She wiped her forehead and pushed on the door. It slowly creaked open.

The room was empty, apart from the body of her daughter lying on the floor. A candle flickered on the windowsill.


About the Creator

Luisa Gillies

Hi! I'm Luisa.

I write short stories and poetry.

I'm really keen to hear feedback on my work, so please feel free to share your thoughts!

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