We drove up the snowy, winding road towards the cozy A-frame cabin. Our Volvo’s headlights darted as we swerved the last corner. Trees and critters were captured in its beam. It was already way past sunset.
This would be our home for the weekend and, if we all liked it, this would be where we’d stay the first weekend of every month from then on. It’d been Pappa’s idea. He said it’d be healthy for my brother and I to spend more time in the wilderness.
I didn’t mind much seeing as I could spend more time reading and sketching inside and I could always pretend to be ill if Pappa wanted us to go on a hike. My brother Erik, on the other hand, was not happy at all.
“So there’s no signal or Wi-Fi, like, at all?” He asked as we stepped inside the cabin.
“Nope, not at all,” The corners of Pappa’s big brown beard pulled up into a wide grin, “wonderful, isn’t it?”
“Eurgh,” Erik’s beanpole body deflated.
Pappa had insisted on carrying all of our bags inside and into the bedrooms. He carried them all as if they were nothing at all. You see, Pappa was strong and safe. He was big as a brown bear but cuddly like a teddy. I often thought how Pappa was more bear than person.
On the complete opposite side of the spectrum was my fourteen-year-old brother, Erik. He was tall, lanky and slippery-looking with his dark greasy hair and spotty face— kind of like an eel— stupid like one, too. He wished he were strong and brave like Pappa but he wasn’t. He was just a pretender.
“It’s fine,” I said, “you can just play games.”
“Can’t. How can I when I can’t connect to the internet?”
“Play other games then.”
“Fine for you, scaredy-Katta, you can just draw your dumb baby drawings and read your lame books.”
Erik always called me scaredy-Katta even though my name’s Katarina. I’d just turned twelve but Erik said I was a baby for my age. Fine, I was shorter than everyone else in my class but I was more sophisticated than those pretenders anyway.
“Woah!” Erik’s voice crackled and strained in that way it did ever since his height had shot up.
“Ew! What’s that?” My eyes jolted wide when I turned to face the rifle that Erik brandished.
“A rifle, you paperhead.”
“Where’d you find it?”
Erik thumped the cabinet.
“Cool, isn’t it?” He grinned, “I could take it hunting.”
“Why’d you do that for?”
“Cos that’s what tough men do.”
“Killing animals for fun?” Pappa asked as he came in from the bedroom.
“Doesn’t sound very tough or manly to me,” Pappa crossed arms closer to tree trunks than to limbs, “how about you put that horrible thing back where you found it?”
Erik grumbled as he placed it back into the cabinet. Before shutting it up, he gazed at it longingly and I swear I saw him shoot it a kiss.
The cabin was warm and snuggly that night. I’d covered myself in a tower of blankets.
“We’ll need some more logs for the fire,” Pappa called out from behind a huge pot of bubbling stew.
“You do it, scaredy-Katta,” Erik grunted from behind his phone.
“Why do I have to do it?”
“I’m busy and so’s Pappa.”
“I’m busy, too.”
“No, you’re not. You’re just making dumb doodles.”
“It’s not like you’re doing anything.”
“Hey, hey! It doesn’t matter who does it so long as one of you does,” Pappa said, “Whoever does it this time won’t have to do it next time. We’ll take it in turns.”
“Fine,” I dropped my sketchbook and pencils, stuck my tongue out at Erik and his moronic eel-head, and stomped outside.
The amber glow of the cabin reflected rectangles and triangles on the snow as I trudged through it while steam poured from my mouth and nose. I hadn’t bothered putting extra layers on, I’d only be out for a bit.
Yet, in my mood, I stomped away from the cabin and the log store, further into the forest. I’d stay out as long as I could until Pappa wondered why I’d been gone so long and Erik felt guilty for telling me to fetch the logs.
My teeth knocked against each other but I hadn’t been gone long enough yet to teach Erik a lesson.
The air was still. Frozen.
It started gently. The pines and the ground shimmered as curtains of green and purple cut through the sky. And that’s when I heard it: Screeching and howling and wailing. A vision of spirits and the skull of a walrus filled my head.
I screamed and staggered back to the cabin.
“Ghosts,” I gasped for air through my chilled throat, “Outside!”
“What are you crying about?” Erik said.
“Ghosts screeching and howling and wailing.”
“You didn’t even get the firewood. Look at you, you’re nose is all stupid and red. You’re such a scaredy-Katta.”
“You’re not listening, there were ghosts.”
Pappa scooped me up, wrapped me in a blanket, and placed me on the sofa by the waning embers of the fire, “We’re not far from the coast here, it’s probably the wind you heard. I’ll fetch the wood and when I come back, I’ll make us all some hot cocoa and then we can tuck into supper.”
It was one of those crisp, sunny mornings so Pappa suggested we go on a hike.
“What have you brought that thing for?” Pappa asked as we stepped into the blinding white wilderness.
“It’s to protect us on the hike,” Erik brandished the hunting rifle as if it were his new girlfriend.
“We don’t need to take that horrible thing with us. There’s nothing that’ll hurt us,” Pappa said.
“What about wolves?”
“They’d much rather stay out of our way.”
“Treat ‘em with respect and they’ll do the same for you.”
Pappa laughed, “they wouldn’t attack any cubs of mine.”
“Yeah, Pappa’s basically one of them,” I chimed.
“Go on, put that nasty thing back.”
Erik scowled as he marched into the cabin with the hunting rifle.
Neither Erik or me knew where Pappa was taking us. We waded through snow until my legs ached and I knew that Erik’s ached too even though he pretended they didn’t. As I said before, he’s a pretender. At least I’m honest.
“Pappa, can we go back now?” I said, “my legs hurt.”
“Don’t be silly, we haven’t even been walking ten minutes. Look, there’s our cabin barely half a kilometre away,” Pappa chuckled as he motioned behind us. Its A-frame sat snuggled between pines part way up the hill behind us.
“Then why does it feel like we’ve walked a million years?”
“Stop being a baby,” Erik said between puffs. His red nose and cheeks, and his raspy breath betrayed him.
“Erik,” Pappa tutted and turned back to me, “walking is good. The more you do it, the easier it’ll get and you’ll feel great after. Besides, isn’t this just beautiful?”
I thought it was cold. But instead I said, “Where are we going?”
“First I thought up that mountain,” Pappa’s voice was too jolly for such a painful situation.
“What?” Erik and I cried in unison.
“Yup, up there,” Pappa’s smile did not drop, instead it broadened, “the view’ll be great.”
“Pappa, please, my legs’ll drop off.”
“And then if the sun’s not too low, we’ll pass by the coast and watch the sunset from there.”
I think Pappa saw our mortified expressions because he said, “Okay, you two. We’ll do just the one.”
Erik and I glanced up at the mountain and then to each other.
“Scaredy-Katta, why don’t you choose?”
I knew Erik’s game. He didn’t want to go up the mountain any more than I did but he didn’t want to look weak in front of anyone least of all Pappa. He wanted me to take the hit. I’d look weak and save us both from Pappa’s eagerness.
“The coast,” I said.
“You sure?” Erik’s face twitched with satisfaction.
He nodded and I could see the relief filling and rejuvenating every inch of him. I’d saved us both from certain muscle pain and floppy legs for the next fortnight.
We walked for what seemed forever but I had to admit— It was pretty.
Even at its highest, the sun was close to the horizon this time of year. The light cast a wash of bronze across the forest while shadows drew long and cold fingers.
I quickly fell behind with my stubby legs.
A shadow moved.
A branch twitched.
My eyes darted left. More movement. Horns. Teeth.
I screamed and ran to Pappa and Erik in front.
They turned to me as I crumpled into the snow. Pappa scooped me up and we continued to the coast.
I was happy to be back inside the cabin with the fire dancing warmth around us. Especially as I glanced up and saw the window shake from the force of the snowstorm outside.
I breathed in the stew and tore at a potato dumpling with my fork, watching it spring back into shape.
I looked up again and jumped half out my chair. A monstrous face with tusks and horns and scraggly, soaked fur stared back at me.
“I-i-i-i-i-it’s the monster,” I pointed at the window and tipped back in my chair until my centre of gravity was too out of whack and I fell backwards.
Of course, when Pappa and Erik’s chairs screeched and they rushed to the window, the monster had gone.
Pappa took the car to the closest village to pick up some herring and other bits for dinner. He’d asked us if we fancied coming but I wanted to finish my drawing and Erik grunted a solid no.
“What’s that?” Erik asked from behind as he looked down at my drawing.
I didn’t look up, “It’s the monster from last night.”
“Didn’t look like that.”
“How do you know? You didn’t see it.”
“Yeah but I know it doesn’t look like that.”
“First it needs longer hair.”
I frowned and glanced up at him. He stared down at my sketchbook and motioned with his hands.
“Then you need to make the face way uglier.”
I narrowed my eyes. What was he trying to do?
“And it needs the snottiest nose ever.”
“Yeah, then you’ll have a real horrible, ugly monster: a scaredy-Katta.”
I chucked my sketchbook at him and ran out of the door, grabbing my hat and coat as I went.
I didn’t like the sea.
And now I stood at the cliff edge staring at the fuzzy barrier where the dull sky met a gloomier sea.
I knew the cabin was behind me somewhere but I didn’t know on which hill and in which direction exactly. So I stood there, letting the wind batter my nose and cheeks until I shivered, and I stared out at the grey.
I imagined the ghostly image of the draugen in the waves as they crashed against the cliff. Its face twisted into a scream as it beckoned me into the waters. I shook my head to rid myself of the image. I hated to admit it but Erik was right. I needed to grow up and stop thinking monsters up.
I needed to toughen up, too.
I turned to the trees. Already, the phantom of the sun had fallen between two mountains and collided with the top branches of the pines. I didn’t have much daylight left so I took in a deep breath and marched into the forest.
The shadows grew even longer, reaching out for me. I shivered until my teeth chattered. Worst of all, my legs still ached after yesterday’s walk.
Images of Pappa or Erik stumbling upon my corpse-shaped ice lolly flooded my mind. My lips would be pulled back to reveal teeth still chattering from the cold. Maybe that’s how they would find me in the first place, they’d follow the sound of my ghostly chattering. And then my teeth would pop off my face to have an adventure of their own. Or maybe they’d haunt this forest forever.
I should have been enjoying the thought of Erik finding my body and how scared he would look, but I didn’t. I felt bad for storming off and getting myself lost and I didn’t want Erik to feel bad for that. Besides, it wasn’t his fault he was an eel-headed moron. Not really.
I shook these thoughts away. That sort of thing wouldn’t help and I needed to focus.
The air stilled. The shadows plunged down on me and, reflected on the snow and trunks, were the sun’s dying embers which flickered. My throat tightened and my chest felt like ice. I had let myself get lost in thought, I had allowed my imagination to run wild and I had not been paying attention. Now I was even more lost and soon I’d lose the sun completely.
That’s when I heard the monstrous wailing. It was loud and close— Closer than it had been on the first night.
I ran and slipped and got up and ran and stumbled and got up and lost my breath and slipped. Pain shot through my ankle and I yelped into the wet cushion of snow as heavy footsteps crunched up to me.
An enormous clawed paw gripped my shoulder.
I gulped. I could scream into this snow until my face froze or I could meet certain death face on.
I could be brave.
I turned and met the monster’s face. There were tusks. And horns. And fur as perfect as snow.
I screamed in its face and it screamed back in mine. It took its paw off me and galumphed into a pile of snow. It wailed like it had on the first night. But it wasn’t monstrous; It was upset.
I hobbled up to it and placed my now blue hand on its shoulder. Its fur enveloped my hand like the softest glove ever. It lifted its face and its eyes, that had always been hidden by its fur, were drenched with tears.
“Why are you sad?” I asked.
It wiped its nose with its paw.
“Everyone who sees me thinks I’m abominable and that my existence is intolerable.”
I buried myself into its fur as if burying my guilt and, at the same time, luxuriating in how soft and warm it was. I think it made the yeti feel better because its sniffles had calmed. I finally said, “I don’t think you’re abominable. I think you’re soft.”
The yeti rose. It was enormous. Probably as tall as Pappa and as broad as him, too, but much fluffier.
“Are you lost, little one?”
“I can help you find your way back.”
“I think I twisted my ankle.”
The yeti bent over and scooped me up. I snuggled into its coat until my teeth stopped chattering.
Suddenly, a bang and a rush of air pierced a hole through a tuft of the yeti’s fur. I turned to the source of the sound. It was Erik with the rifle.
“Get away from my sister, you monster,” he would have sounded like he’d meant business if it weren’t for the wobble in his voice and knees.
The yeti took a step forward but Erik yelled and ran.
“Not yet-again-i,” the yeti sighed.
We found Erik soon after shaking in a bush. The yeti lifted him onto its shoulder while I was curled up in the nook of its other arm and it carried us back to the cabin.
By the time we got back, Pappa had already prepared dinner.
“That’s so much food, Pappa,” Erik and I said pretty much in unison as we stumbled inside.
The table overflowed with fried herring, pickled herring, lingonberry sauce, smoked sausages, apple salad, beetroot salad, crispbreads, devilled eggs, cheeses, pâté, shrimp and smoked salmon sandwich cake, creamed cabbage, potato casserole, meatballs— It was exhausting looking at all the food so my eyes skimmed over until they reached pudding of cheese cake, rice pudding, chocolate lava cake, pear tart, chocolate truffles, figs, oranges— My mouth drooled and my stomach ached just looking at it.
“I thought I’d make an occasion of the last night of our first weekend here.”
“I know you eat a lot Pappa, but even that’d be too much for the three of us,’ Erik said.
“You never know when you’ll have company so it’s best to be prepared,” Pappa’s bright blue eyes twinkled as the yeti stooped inside.
“Pappa, where’s the shovel?” Erik asked as we packed our stuff into the car after a breakfast of porridge and after we’d said our goodbyes to the yeti.
“In the outhouse. By the logs,” Pappa said.
“What do you need a shovel for?”
“I’m going to bury that stupid rifle. Not like we’ll ever need it.”
“Oh, okay,” Pappa’s beard grinned.
“Why you smiling, Pappa?” I asked.
“Oh, I’m just very proud of both my cubs is all.”
Erik never called me scaredy-Katta after that weekend. I think it was because he hadn’t seen me run away from the yeti like he had. Screaming. I never felt like correcting him. Besides, I liked this new respect he had for me.
We all became close friends with the yeti and we spent every first weekend of the month in that cozy little cabin together. We played board games, hiked, ate the most enormous and delicious meals, shoved sweets in our faces on Saturdays, made campfires, toasted marshmallows, drank hot chocolate, fished (the yeti taught us), spotted wildlife, laughed and a million things more. Finally, our cosy little family was complete.
About the Creator
Thank you so much for reading my stuff!
I love travel, photography, and writing speculative fiction.
I’m also on a never-ending quest to improve my storytelling so any feedback is massively appreciated.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Original narrative & well developed characters
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions
On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme
Awesome story! I really liked the yeti twist, I don’t think I’ve ever read one like it.
I want to be friends with the yeti!