Surviving Witch's Rock
The Inn-Keeper's Cabin (Don't Fall Asleep, it isn't safe)
“The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window,” began the slow, gruff voice. “It wasn’t particularly bright but nonetheless it cast an inviting glow against the dirt caked glass.”
Andrew shifted nervously on the cold sand as he watched his girlfriend Shannon inch even closer to the cackling fire—apparently interested in what the inn-keeper would say next.
Not a noise could be heard around them but the churning of the ocean as the wind whipped errant sparks from the flames, twirling skyward into the cerulean blue abyss. It was peaceful yet a chill cut into his bones. For some reason he was unable to relax. Goosebumps pricked his skin as he looked over at his friends—Zach and Avery who were busy trying to scare their girlfriends as screams and laughter erupted against the darkness.
Shadows from their bodies cast along the empty beach, illuminating it with life but Andrew remained still. He couldn’t help but to feel as though someone was watching them. He looked up, the inn-keeper was smiling. It was an unassuming smile yet something about it sent the hairs along Andrew’s neck to full alert as he observed the inn-keepers eyes pierce through him.
Andrew sat back, focusing on the fire instead as the gravelly voice continued over the ruckus of his friends as though they weren’t even there. The last thing he remembered was something about an old woman feasting on those who had happened to venture into the cabin—those poor, poor souls who were brave enough, curious enough to put aside their better judgement and go inside.
The next morning sunlight poured through the windows, waking Andrew with a start as he bolted upright. “How did I get up here, how late were we on the beach,” he asked as he tried rousing Shannon.
“Not sure, I don’t remember much about last night,” Shannon replied groggily, tossing the blanket over her face as she attempted to block the intrusion from the sun’s rays.
Andrew jumped up and had barely thrown on his clothes when a stout woman entered the room. She had a kind face and a calming smile, a much different face than that of the inn-keeper with her rounded cheeks and even rounder glasses.
She puttered about seamlessly as she tightly tucked the sheets and comforter, practically pushing Shannon out of bed.
“Up and at ’em,” she cooed, pausing briefly to pat Shannon’s messy hair. Shannon smiled uncomfortably as the woman continued flitting around the room stocking towels and wiping everything down. It was as though she was compelled to clean, a butterfly—large yet agile.
When she had finished the room looked good as new, as though no one had ever even been there.
“So I hear you guys are here celebrating your recent graduation,” there was a brief pause as the woman adjusted a crooked painting on the wall nearest the door before continuing—“I saw it in the paper and wanted to congratulate you on all your hard work,” she added, her lips curling into a twisted smile as she tilted her head slightly to the side. She seemed unnaturally happy, and it didn't help that her rosy cheeks did little to hide her rather large teeth.
It was hard for Andrew to look away. He was almost certain he could see the woman biting her tongue behind her smile.
The silence was awkward, deafening, and still Shannon said nothing, politely thanking the woman, who just as she reached the door—stopped and turned back— “I almost forgot,” the woman gasped, reaching into the pockets of her floral apron and pulling out two wrapped chocolates.
“Only two, one for each of you,” the woman exclaimed in a rather sing-song voice. There was something threatening behind the smile and kind voice. Andrew watched as the woman put the chocolate neatly on the pillow, tapping them twice for good measure before leaving the room.
“But... how would she know about that,” Andrew whispered, referencing the woman's comment but Shannon waived it off. “Might have been in the news or something,” she began, seemingly unbothered by it all.
“Who knows, she’s old after-all, maybe she’s guessing,” Shannon replied, shrugging her shoulders as she looked about the room for her suitcase.
“Where did I put my things,” Shannon asked curiously as she looked in the empty cabinets and closets but couldn’t find her bags.
“I don’t know,” Andrew began, “just freshen up and come down, we will look for them after we eat,” Andrew quipped as he looked about for his own stuff, adamant that he left everything on the floor nearest the windows.
Something wasn’t right. Something was missing from the room but he couldn't remember what it was. A dresser, a cabinet? Something was under the window. There were pictures and a music box on it.
“I could have sworn…” he said aloud, “I remember carrying all of your heavy stuff up here; I barely made it to the window. Remember? You saw me. I put them right here” Andrew was practically spitting in his overly excited state as he opened the bedroom door to verify they were in the right room.
“Yep, it says room number four,” he confirmed as he opened and closed the door several more times; looking back to make sure the suitcases weren’t hiding anywhere obvious.
“Maybe we moved them last night or something,” Shannon whispered as she proceeded to look through the drawers on the nightstand.
“This whole thing is so odd, I don’t know where you even found this place,” he muttered, looking back towards the bed to where the chocolates sat untouched. Shannon kissed him on the cheek as he ran his fingers through her hair.
Shannon smirked happily, holding him one last time— “Remember, I saved us a ton of money on this place. It has great reviews, awesome views, privacy and enough space for all of us. Promised the best rates in town, besides, I’ll be down shortly. Maybe Zach and Avery are already downstairs. Why don’t you join them, I’m going to check on Lisa and Rachel.”
Andrew smiled, ignoring the growing pit in his stomach. There was something quite amiss with this whole situation but he couldn’t put his finger on what it was.
As Andrew rounded the corner he was met with an older man seated at the head of a fairly quaint dining table. There were several place-settings already waiting for them as platters of piping hot biscuits and trains of gravy sat in the middle along with other assorted breakfast meats like bacon and sausage piled high. On a buffet next to them were bowls of fruit, coffee, water and lemonade. It was perfect, all his favorite things.
The man looked much older, his skin pale and sagging—a stark difference to the gravelly, weather beaten man that told them stories the night before. Andrew had to do a double take to make sure it was even the same person.
“So what’s the deal with the maid,” Andrew asked as he poured himself a glass of iced lemonade. The man looked curiously at Andrew, watching him smother gravy over the puffy biscuits.
“Yeah, you know, the house-keeper, the woman who came in this morning and made our bed. She was very interesting. Is that your wife?” Andrew queried as he bit into the soft, buttery goodness. It was unlike anything he had ever tasted, pure perfection. Not too dry, not too salty, just right.
“But my boy,” the inn-keeper began, “there are no other people here,” the man whispered, his eyes more frightful than before as he helped himself up. Andrew practically choked on his food as he felt his heart drop.
The man continued—“It’s just me. My wife died many, many years ago,” a sigh could be heard in his voice. “Besides, don’t you read?” the man growled, pointing to the sign tacked up near the stairs which said—no maids here, self-service only.
Andrew practically fell down as he ran up the stairs leaving the old man behind; Shannon hadn’t come down yet. Come to think of it, he hadn’t heard a peep from anyone all morning. It was as though he was the only one in the house, well, besides the old man and the maid.
As Andrew hit the second floor landing he heard the man’s gravelly voice trailing up the stairs behind him—“don’t eat the chocolate my boy, don’t eat the chocolate,” he warned but it was too late. As Andrew forced his way into the bedroom he found it empty, just the unwrapped chocolate sat on the crisply made bed. Shannon was nowhere to be found.
Andrew ran over to the other rooms where his friends had been checked into but they were also empty. The rooms looked as though no one had even been there. Their things were gone, they were gone.
This had to be a joke, a sick joke, yes, that had to be it. He half expected them to all run out and scare him, anything would be better than nothing, but as the minutes ticked by, he still found himself standing in an empty room.
He walked over to the window hoping they were on the beach but as he looked down he saw nothing but sand. No birds, no boats, no people; nothing.
What is going on—Andrew whispered as he began pacing the hall, going back and forth from room to room. No one was there but him. He had never felt so utterly alone, so afraid, so scared in all his life.
Not knowing what else to do Andrew ran downstairs but found the table had been cleared. The kitchen was completely empty and to make things worse, the innkeeper was nowhere to be found.
He was just here—Andrew mused as he ran around the house calling out for anyone to answer but he was met with silence, an eerie cloud that settled over him like a fog. It was surreal, he felt like he was in a dream.
As he pushed the large glass sliding doors open and stepped out onto the deck he realized the sun was starting to set. He wondered how this was even possible? Didn't he just wake up?
Unsure of what was going on or what to do next, he scanned the coast; not one person could be seen for miles along the beach. He walked over the edge, taking the stairs two at a time until the warm sand burrowed between his toes as he ran towards the front of the house. Both his and Avery’s cars were gone.
Panic set in as he bolted back up the front porch and into the tri-level bed and breakfast. All the rooms were well furnished but empty. The house looked completely unlived in and now that he looked around, the homes on either side were also looking rather unkempt. Almost as though they were also abandoned.
He made his way over to the hosts stand and flipped through the pages of the book. All of them were blank but the first page.
There was one notation in the top right corner that read—Cabin party, five—and that was it. He remembered each of them writing their names. He remembered giving them his license to copy, his card to pay. Where were those logs, what was going on?
He couldn’t find his bags, his keys, his wallet, his girlfriend, his friends…he couldn’t find his car. The inn-keeper had mysteriously left, and as if that wasn’t bad enough, he didn’t even know what day it was or how many days he had been there.
There wasn’t a phone or computer; there weren’t any televisions, electric clocks, stoves, or anything in this house. Come to think of it—he wasn’t exactly sure how breakfast had been made, or if he had even had breakfast.
He couldn't be certain of anything anymore.
The grandfather clock in the hall chimed twelve; none of this was making sense. There wasn’t a calendar anywhere to be found. No cards, no receipts, no pictures; nothing. Nonetheless, he tried to remain calm. Maybe they had all gone somewhere and would be back soon, Andrew couldn’t even be certain how many days it had been since they had checked in. The whole thing was a big blur; the only thing he remembered was the fire and waking up. That was the last time he had seen his friends.
Andrew walked around talking to himself as he latched all the windows. What did ‘Cabin Party’ mean? There weren’t five of them, there were six, he was the sixth person...and now he was one. With that sickening thought Andrew made sure to lock all the doors behind him on the lower level as he went around looking for clues and making sure the house was actually empty before settling in for the night.
Andrew summoned the strength to go back up the stairs. He didn’t think the tattered umbrella would do him any good as he slowly made his way up the creaking steps alone. This time he armed himself with the only thing he could find to defend himself with—a rusted cane that sat in a catch-all by the front door.
It was getting dark out as he locked himself in the room for the night, keeping every light in the house on just in case. Still unsure if he should wait there or back in the living room—he didn’t think very long on the matter as the couches were stiff and rather uncomfortable. Besides, he felt safest locked in the bedroom.
Andrew ran over to the bed and jumped on top, crawling closer to the headboard before securely wrapping himself in the warm blankets, keeping his eyes glued to the door doing his best to stay awake, certain he was the only one there.
After what felt like hours, Andrew awoke with a start—mad at himself for giving in to the beckoning calls of slumber. He felt groggy, a chill hung in the air as he slowly opened his eyes, afraid of what he might find looking back at him. To his relief the room was still empty but that would quickly fade away once his eyes adjusted to the darkness. The moon peeped through the window. From where he sat on the bed Andrew could see the bedroom door ajar.
Once again the sickening jolt of fear coursed through his body. He jumped out of bed and ran towards the door to turn the light on, flicking the switch furiously but nothing happened.
Andrew quickly shut the door and pushed a chair in front of it thinking the walls must have settled in the night, which in turn allowed the door to swing open. YES…That had to be it; at least, that is what he told himself—it was the only way he would be able to go back to sleep.
He settled back in bed and had just gotten accustomed to the darkness once more. Right when his eyes started to shut he caught a glimmer of light coming out of the closet. At first he thought his mind was playing tricks on him, he thought he might be imagining things. It had after-all been a busy day, but still, something about it made him curious.
Andrew couldn't fight it anymore. He slowly crept towards the edge of the bed and tip-toed to the closet—barely daring to breathe as he quickly ripped the door open. The closet was bare, completely empty.
So what was it that he saw in his fickle state, what light did he see—Andrew mused as he bent down, level with the hardwood floor, and that’s when he saw it. There was a light, there was what appeared to be a hidden door on the other side.
Excitedly, Andrew ran his fingers along the edge of the door nearest the light and felt cold, hard nails. It seemed that the door had been bolted shut. He wondered if that was to keep something out—or to keep him in. Either way he had to know what was inside.
As he picked at the nails one by one he felt along the inner panels of the door until he came across a latch. Whatever was on the other side better be worth it—he thought as he pulled with all his might but the door didn’t budge.
He lay down on the floor and pressed his face up to the opening but couldn’t see anything. He waited for what felt like a few seconds as he lie motionless in the closet hoping to catch a glimpse of what was on the other side. Still nothing; after a few moments he remembered there being a lantern on the shelf in the hall, it would be perfect.
After a few moments of stumbling he found the lantern, now if only he could find matches. Andrew remembered back to when Shannon was rummaging through the nightstand—sure he would find matches there.
As luck would have it there was one single match-box in the nightstand, Andrew hurriedly struck it and lit the wick deep inside the lamp, within seconds a dome shaped ring of light lit up around him like the petals on a flower. He went back to the closet and to his dismay he had underestimated the amount of locks on the door. There were boards and other metal contraptions buried deep into the wood.
Andrew stepped back unsure of what to do next. He used the cane to pry them open, jimmying into the slats of wood that looked more like thick paneling than anything else. In fact, he would have thought it was just an intricate wall if he hadn’t known there was a door there.
Why would someone go through all this trouble to block a door, building a whole closet around it, hiding it away from the world to see?
Andrew had so many questions, more questions than answers—he had questions about the beach, the house, the guests, everything. He hoped this might give him some answers; an indication of what the hell was going on in this house, but he couldn’t be more wrong.
He was about to give up when one of the boards loosened and broke away from the wall—exposing a damp and dusty room sealed from the inside out. Andrew wasted no time ripping the rest of the boards loose as he grabbed the lantern and stepped over the threshold. It was soon apparent that he wished he had left well enough alone, for inside was what was left of an abandoned room. Doll heads and feathers, stuffing and other assorted items were strewn about the floor. There was a rocking chair in the middle of the room that seemed to move ever so slightly. In the corner was a small wrought iron bed and a lumpy mattress. He couldn’t even be sure if someone had slept in it recently, it was so old.
What happened next would surely make his skin crawl. As his eyes adjusted to the lamplight he saw all of their luggage stowed neatly in the corner. He walked closer but something stopped him. There was something hanging from the ceiling. He swatted blindly as the cold paper brushed against his skin.
He didn’t get a chance to see what it was before the light went out. He didn’t have to, he knew it was photos of his friends and they looked utterly terrified. Andrew dropped the lantern as it exploded at his feet causing him to fall backwards as he tripped over the exposed closet door on his way out of the house.
After what felt like an eternity he finally stumbled down the deck stairs and came crashing into the sandy beach below, catching his fall as he crawled towards the waves; desperate to get away.
Shakily, he held the photos up, there was no mistaking his friends were being held somewhere, but where—he wondered as he looked back up at the empty house.
There were no lights to be seen but one, Andrew couldn’t believe it. He crawled up the beach back towards the house and there it was, in one of the windows sat a single candle.