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Sins of the Past

A tormented past refuses to be forgotten.

By Kevin McLaughlinPublished 2 years ago 7 min read

The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window. I wasn’t supposed to be here, no one was supposed to be here. The cabin had been condemned ever since I was a boy living in the trailer park down at the bottom of the hill the cabin overlooks. Yet here I was, at the end of a long hallway illuminated only by the sole flickering candle on the windowsill where the hall opened into a large room. I took a hesitant step forward, the floorboards groaned under the weight of my bare feet, shattering the silence of the moment. I hesitated, my heart beating against the skin of my chest, my breath shaky and broken as I strained, listening for anything or anyone else. All was quiet.

I racked my brain for how I might’ve ended up here in the cabin atop the hill. I had been out drinking with Brian and Seth after work, like we normally did after shift on Fridays. I had walked home, laid down to sleep and opened my eyes to find myself in the dark, the candle’s weak flame of the candle burning the thin wax candle in the window dead ahead of me. Did I stumble up here drunk? Had we drunk enough that I would even contemplate coming back here after what happened the last time I had been anywhere near here. I shivered at the thought. No.

The candle flame ahead of me quivered, and a warm summer breeze flitted through my fingers and down the hall. A crack in the wall, an open window, or perhaps a door, a way out. The floorboards bowed and creaked as I made my way down the hall towards the dim, dancing light. My sweaty palms stroked along the walls thick with grime and dust. I entered the room at the end of the hall, which was at one time a seating and dining area. Old couches and chairs in faded, floral upholstery, a dining set coated in cobwebs, simple dishes set upon the table waiting to serve their next meal. I coughed, the air was hot and heavy, laden with dust, but moved with the slight breeze that came through the cracked door to the far left of the room that led out into the black of night outside the cabin.

I took a step towards the open door and was greeted by a sigh of wind that rippled through the room, blowing out the candle with its hushed whisper. Another step towards the door, and then, a coarse scratching sound, wood against wood, a door across the floor. Then the strained groaning of the floorboards under the weight of someone's feet.

Don’t think, run.

I bolted for the door, whoever else was in the cabin I didn’t want to stick around to find out who it might’ve been that brought me here. I scrambled for the door, pulling it open with a shriek from its rusted hinges. My bare feet launched myself off the short wooden porch towards the pure bleak darkness of the tree line. My first step was met with the cool, soft touch of grass, a relief, freedom, escape. My second step however landed hard against something wooden, a root. No, it was too flat, too unnatural. My momentum brought me crashing into a door that gave way under my weight sending the door crashing outwards as I fell, hard upon the floorboards of the creaking, groaning hallway where this nightmare began.

I stood up in the doorway brushing the splinters from my hands, another door further down the hall was also cracked open. Cautiously I crept towards it, wincing each time my weight gave the floor beneath me reason to moan. I craned my neck around the door to peer into the room. Score marks lined the floor where the bottom of the door had scrapped along, causing that awful sound. The inside of the room was remarkably pristine, cobwebs denoted the corners of the room, but the bed, cabinets, mirror, and other furniture appeared clean. Nervous sweat dripped down my forehead into my eyes, I swallowed, cleaning my glasses as I gazed up to the large painting of a bear by a river, blood stained the picture frame, it was as if no one had been in this room in twelve years when I last…

The candle flame erupted out of the corner of my eye, illuminating the large room once again.

“No need to be quiet Jared,” said a familiar but alien voice, “after all I did bring you here so there’s no use hiding.”

I inched my way back into the room with the candle, a figure stood at the door facing out into the woods. They were tall and thin, wearing a tattered and torn blue midi dress stained with dirt and blood. They had long black hair that was knotted and was split at the ends. They gripped the doorframe with long spindly fingers with yellowed fingernails before turning around to look at me.

Her deep brown eyes poured over me.

“Molly?” I whispered, not understanding. “You’re alive? But I thought…”

“You could say I’m something like that,” she said, twisting her head unnaturally and taking a step towards me. I took a step back in response.

“I can’t believe this.” I shook my head. “It’s been twelve years, have you been here this whole time?”

“I have.” She moved across the room to the window, watching the weak flickering of the flame as it seemed to bend away from her presence in the room.

“Why? What happened to you?” I glanced at the wide-open doorway, and then back to Molly. She wasn't looking at me, if I was fast enough, I could make it out into the night. But then again, the last time I merely ended up back in the cabin. But how?

“You know what happened to me, you were here remember? Twelve years ago, when we were just kids in that very room.” She pointed a long grotesque finger behind her to point at the room with the bear picture without turning around to face me. “I died that day. You and your pathetic little friends, you killed me.”

“No, no, I had nothing to do with that!” I shouted at her.

“Brian, Seth, Bianca, Molly and you.” Her finger twisted to point directly at me, sending a chill through my spine. I took a step towards the door. “Five of us came up that hill, four of us went down. How could you just leave me here?”

“I’m telling you Molly, it wasn’t me, its Brian and Seth, they…”

“They said the same thing as you! They all said the same thing.” Her voice swapped to a winey high-pitched tone mimicking me. “Oh, Molly it wasn’t me, it was the others, I swear. It was Bianca who pushed you, Brian who convinced you that you couldn’t call for help, Seth who held me as I choked on my own spit, and you.” Her voice deepened again; she gritted her teeth together. “You watched.”

“It was an accident,” I said, my voice breaking. “We thought we were helping. We were scared. Goddammit we were eleven years old, how were we supposed to know any better!”

“I’m dead Jordan. I am dead. You all walked away, drinking in silence every night living your lives pretending you haven’t sinned. That a girl didn’t die up in the cabin in the woods that day. But she did. I did. Now you’ll join me here on the hill like the others.”

Molly reached a thin bloody hand towards the window brushing aside the curtain revealing the tree line illuminated by the moonlight. I gagged, trying not to vomit. The three closest trees each held up one of my dear friends from that night. Brian, Seth, and Bianca, each petrified with a look of pure terror in their eyes. Their bodies pale and lifeless, as if all the blood had been drained from their bodies.

I ran, making for the door and slamming it shut behind me, if I could just get back into town, I could escape this nightmare. I would just get in my car and drive, I’d leave this hell well behind me, reinvent myself somewhere far away. My thoughts were interrupted when I slammed into the wall of the cabin hallway yet again, bursting through the same door as before.

I punched the wall. “No! No! No! It’s not fair! I didn’t do anything. Why can’t I leave!”

“You can’t leave Jordan because you’re stuck here just like me.” Molly pointed out the window to a fourth tree. Tied to it by their hands was my own body, pale and drained like the others.

“No, it can’t be.” I fell to my knees sobbing. “Why?”

“Because Jordan, not one of you ever said you were sorry for what happened.”

Molly reached two fingers to pinch out the flame on the dim candle that burned towards the end of its wick.

“Wait,” I pleaded, “don’t I’m not ready.”

“Neither was I.”

Molly extinguished the flame and shadow swallowed everything I had ever known. The cabin disappeared and all at once everything ceased.

fiction

About the Creator

Kevin McLaughlin

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    Kevin McLaughlinWritten by Kevin McLaughlin

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