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The Dasher Diet

A fresh delivery.

By Stephanie DownardPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 15 min read
13
Photo by Stephanie Downard

The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window.

I’ve driven by it my whole life. The cabin was tucked nicely within the trees outside of town, but if you looked at the right moment, a person could get a good glimpse. The path that once led up to it was no longer in existence. Bushes and weeds had consumed the entire area. I’m sure before my time it was a beautiful place. As a little girl, I remembered questioning my mom about why the cabin looked so sad. She always replied with the same answer,

“It's not sad, Hannah. The cabin is just deserted. Even when I was your age, it looked that way.”

Growing up, I was constantly curious why the people who lived there just left it to rot. I often thought about going inside but could never muster up the courage to do it. I got close once but only made it halfway through the weeds when a snake slithered across my foot. It freaked me out, so I took off back to the road. After that, I never attempted it again. As the years went on, that dang cabin still crossed my mind now and again.

By the time I graduated high school, it was so rotted away that the roof over the stairs began to collapse. I was honestly surprised it hadn't caved in all the way. The urge to go inside nagged at me, but logically, I felt it wasn't a smart idea. For all I knew, as soon as I went inside, the cabin would come crashing down.

That didn't stop me from imagining what it was like inside. I pictured a kitchen to the left with a small round table covered in dust and rusty water droplets falling from the faucet. Spider webs galore, maybe an old brittle shelf filled with musty books. A living room area with a rickety rocking chair placed in front of a fireplace. Two bedrooms, one with a jewelry box crammed with necklaces that time forgot. Each moment I thought about the cabin, my mind created something different. I hated being a scaredy-cat because I couldn't bring myself to explore the unknown. I decided before the end of the summer; I was going to do it. Since in the fall, I would be off to college, hours away from my home.

It was a few weeks into my break when I determined it was time to find a job. That way, I could have some extra money when I got to school. I knew I didn't want some stuffy office job or being a waitress working for crap tips. The only thing I came across that caught my attention was DoorDash. It was perfect. I could work when I wanted and didn't have a strict schedule to follow. All I had to do was pick up or shop orders for people and delivery them. I lived in a smaller Midwest town, so for the most part, the cash flow was fairly steady. I wasn't going to get rich, but I was making enough to prepare myself for college.

I'd been a dasher for about a month, and things were going great. I got home one night from my last delivery when my mom confronted me at the door.

“Hannah, have you heard about the girl that disappeared doing DoorDash?”

“No, what girl?”

“I think you went to school with her. Oh, what was her name? Umm.., Brooke, that's it. Anyway, she's been missing for a few days now. Went out to dash, and she hasn't been seen since.”

“She probably just left town, mom. Brooke always talked about getting out of here when we were in school.”

“I don't know, Hannah. The police found her car on a random street with the keys still in it. Her phone and wallet were the only things missing. From now I don't want you dashing after dark.”

“Really, mom! I think you're overreacting.”

“No, Hannah, I want you to promise me you won't dash after sundown.”

“Fine! I promise I won't.”

“Thank you, sweetheart. I just want you to be safe.”

I could see from my mom's point of view how dashing at night was scary, but to me, it seemed ridiculous. I've always had good judgment when it came to weirdos. Besides, if things got too crazy, my pepper spray was tucked nicely away in my back pocket. I haven't had to use it yet, but I'd been anxiously awaiting the day I could add some more spice to someone's order. A little extra pepper never hurt anyone.

Another week went by, and the police still hadn't found Brooke. Was I worried about disappearing? No, but I still hoped that she would be found. I held on to the idea that Brooke was far away, living her best life. Leaving town was all she talked about the few times I interacted with her. I think she was too scared to admit her home life sucked, and getting out was her only option. I certainly wasn't going to let her disappearance stop me from doing DoorDash. My mom was already hinting toward me quitting altogether. Each day I returned home just before dark as she demanded. She'd make her snide remarks to remind me.

One night the sun was descending, and I finished my last order of the day. The DoorDash app showed it was still busy. I decided a few more deliveries wouldn't hurt. So against my mother's wishes, I hit the dash now button. If anything, I could end it after one more order. Within a few seconds, my phone chimed, and I was off. I'm glad I kept going because this particular dash had the biggest tip I've ever gotten. There was no way I could turn this one down.

I picked up the order and pushed the direction button. As I followed my GPS instructions, it took me outside of town. Then I hear,

Your destination is on the right. The customer requested you hand them the order.”

I pulled over and was confused until I looked to the right outside my window. It was the abandoned cabin in the woods. Excitement took over my body. This was it, my chance to peek inside. I sprang from the car, order in hand, and started to walk. Someone had cut down a small narrow pathway. If my judgment wasn't so clouded, I might have realized no sane person would be living there. But yet, I continued down the path. Once I got closer, the only light from the cabin was one small candle that burned in the window.

It was getting darker, and the flame glowed brighter the closer I got. I saw a shadowy figure pass by the window as I reached the rotted stairs. Whoever it was, cleaned up the caved-in roof, and to an extent, the cabin almost looked presentable. I carefully stepped up the stairs and knocked on the door. The doorknob swiveled to the left, and I heard a loud creak. Disappointment rushed over me. Some skinny pale older man barely opened the door with only half of his body sticking out. I wasn't able to see anything behind him.

He had bad teeth but kind brown eyes. I handed him the order, and with a smile, he said,

“Thank you, young lady. I hope it wasn't too much trouble finding the place.”

“No problem at all. Have a good night,” I replied.

“Oh, I will now that I've got some fresh food.”

I turned to walk away and heard the loud creak again. But then, out of nowhere, I felt something whack me in the back of my head. I tumbled down the stairs, and just before I blacked out, I got a glimpse inside the cabin. All I saw were blood streaks smeared across the floor.

I woke up chained to a wall in a poorly lit cellar. The stench in the air overwhelmed me to the point where I threw up in my mouth. It smelled of feces and spoiled meat. I'd never been so nauseated in my life. My head ached as I tried to sit up. I reached back to feel my wound and winced from the pain. The hair on the back of my head was sticky and wet from all the blood. Things were blurred as I tried to look at my surroundings. The floor was damp and slimy as I tried to feel around. I felt something and grabbed it with my hand. When I dragged it closer, I realized it was a severed foot. I screamed and chucked it across the room.

Disturbed by what I saw, I panicked and began to yank on the chains hoping I could break them free. They didn't budge, so I frantically tried to squeeze the chain off around my ankle.

“You're wasting your energy,” a broken voice whispered from the shadows.

“Who said that,” I answered back cautiously.

“Over here.”

I watched as they slid into the light.

“Brooke?”

“Yeah, it's me.”

When I got a better look, I was horrified by what I saw. The agony on Brooke's face sent chills through my whole body. One of her arms had been cut clean off, and she had chunks carved out of her legs. The sight of it made my stomach churn. It was like a scene from a horror movie. My heart raced as I imagined what kind of torment was in store for me. Who would do such grotesque things like this?

“Brooke, what happened to you?”

“It's that man upstairs. He's some kind of deranged doctor. I think he's been eating my flesh.”

“He eats people,” I shrieked!

“Yes, sometimes I can smell his cooking, and as twisted as it sounds, the scent of it makes me hungry. But keep your voice down, Hannah. I don't want him to come back down here.”

“Brooke, we have to get out of this hell hole. I don't want to die here.”

“I think it's too late for me, Hannah. I don't believe I'm going to last much longer. I'm just so tired.”

“No, don't give up. I'm going to get us out of here.”

“That's what Detective Carter said before he sawed off his foot, trying to escape. He passed out from the pain and blood loss. Then that man dragged him off to the room over there, and I haven't seen him since.”

“He killed a detective?”

“Yeah, I'm pretty sure he chopped Carter up and canned him. That cannibal carried the jars down and put them on the shelf.”

“Brooke, we can't end up like Detective Carter. I don't want to be cooked and canned.”

“Honestly, Hannah, at this point, I’d willingly end up like Carter. I can't endure any more of this torture. I wish he would have let me die instead of treating and cauterizing all my wounds.”

“Brooke, please don't talk like that. The police are probably out right now looking for Detective Carter and us. They will figure it out. I just know they will.”

“I've been here for over a week, Hannah. No one is coming to save us. You can hold on to your hope if you want, but mine is gone. Here Carter had a notepad and pen. It fell out of his pocket when the cannibal took him away.”

Brook handed me the pen and paper. I wasn't sure why exactly. What was I going to do with it? The only thing I came up with was to use the pen to stab Hannibal's mini-me. But before I gave that another thought, it dawned on me. Did he check my pockets? I reached back to inspect, and a little relief came over me. My pepper spray was still there. What an idiot he was. Who kidnaps a person and doesn't check all their pockets? With this, I knew I had a better chance of escaping. I needed to devise the right plan and pray it worked.

I waited for my opportunity to strike. It had been almost two days, and he still hadn't made an appearance. Anticipation kept me alert enough to curb my hunger. Maybe that was part of his strategy. Starve a person long enough that they get weak and can't fight back. We had very little water. I'd take small sips here and there, wishing I could chug the rest. I hoped poor Brooke could hold on a while longer because she was dwindling fast. I'm not even sure how long she had been without food. Brooke could hardly stay awake since our last conversation. I tried to tell her my plan, but she was too incoherent to understand. It was a struggle extending my foot to her as I attempted to nudge her awake.

“Brooke, can you hear me? I need you to fight. Please wake up.”

She lifted her head, but no words came out. Brooke's eyes looked lifeless as she stared at me. I wished I could have given her a drink of water. I felt selfish keeping it to myself, but if I passed it to her, I risked losing it altogether. I didn't know what to do. I couldn't keep her conscious long enough to warn her about my escape plan. Sadness reigned over me, but I knew I couldn't give up. That monster had to come down eventually and I needed to be ready.

As time slowly went by, the urge to pee was getting intolerable. The night before, I held it too long and ended up going in my pants. I felt disgusting and smelled of urine. My chain was short and restricted me from going too far, so my options were limited. I also didn't want to jeopardize my chance to attack. If I tried to go and he came down, everything would fall apart. So as much as I hated the feeling of piss pants, I had no choice but to do it. The warm liquid seeped all over me. It was nasty, but for a brief moment, I felt relieved. That didn't last long because the warmth quickly changed to cold. The wetness made me shiver while I sat and waited for them to dry again.

I was exhausted. I hadn't been sleeping but a few minutes here and there. My eyes were heavy as I tried to keep them open. At some point, I lost the battle and passed out. I woke up to the sound of footsteps on the stairs.

“Brooke, he's coming,” I whispered.

She didn't move. I sat straight up and clutched my pepper spray. Each step got louder and louder. My heart was thumping so fast that it made my chest feel tight. It was too dark to see the bottom of the stairs. So I nervously waited for the noise to stop. Once it did, a few seconds passed, and he appeared in the light. I began to shake as he walked closer. He stood in front of us as if he was debating on which one to choose. It was like the devil selecting a soul for his collection. Fear devoured me, and I almost forgot my plan. When I looked at his hands, he had a syringe in one and keys in the other. I watched as he bent down and inched closer to Brooke. He turned to glace at me. I took that as my opportunity.

I lifted the pepper spray, pushed the button, and the mist hit him straight in the face. He fell to the ground, coughing and hacking. The keys dropped next to me. I picked them up and shuffled through to find the right one. But somehow, this cannibal seemed indestructible. He started crawling back to me like a rabid dog. His eyes were blood red, and slobber was spewing from his mouth. I started kicking my feet and nailed him in the head twice. He fell unconscious, and I wasted no time unlocking the chain around my ankle. I got Brooke's undone and shook her awake.

“Brooke, come on, we have to go! Right Now!”

She opened her eyes, and I tried to lift her off the ground.

“STAND UP!”

She struggled to move. I scooped my arm under Brooke and raised her off the floor. It wasn't easy to run with her, but I hurried as fast as possible. We almost reached the stairs, but something clamped around my foot. It was the most excruciating pain I've ever felt, like a hundred knives stabbed through me. I toppled to the floor in agony. I lost my grip on Brooke, and she crashed to the ground beside me. The horror I saw when I looked at my leg took all my hope away. A bear trap had caught me as if I were a wild animal. I tried to pry open the embedded spikes from my skin, but I wasn't strong enough.

“Hannah, the springs,” Brooke choked out.

I didn't know what she meant. It seemed like nonsense coming out of her mouth. The trauma had severely overpowered my concentration. By the time I realized what she was talking about, it was too late. The flesh-eating monster was nowhere to be found. It was too dark as I attempted to find the springs on the trap. Brooke hit my mangled foot as she tried her best to help me. A stinging sensation coursed through my neck. I turned to see the man standing between Brooke and me. He injected the contents of the syringe inside my body. The effects took over fast, and I slumped to the floor. I didn't know if I would wake up or if this was the end. I looked at Brooke and said,

“I'm so sorry I couldn't save us.”

That was the last thing I ever got to say to her. When I came to, she was gone. He had chopped off my crushed foot and cauterized the end. I could hardly move because it hurt so bad. Any shift of my body shot intense pains down my whole leg. The only thing I was grateful for was that I still had both my arms. A missing foot was nothing compared to what Brooke had to endure. My heart ached as I thought about her final moments. I knew she had to have suffered. I felt like I failed her. She died all because I stepped on that bear trap. If I had only paid attention on the way to the stairs, we would be free right now. Then that twisted man wouldn't be able to claim any more victims.

Instead of one chain, I now had two. He put them around my neck and my wrist. That sicko made damn sure I wouldn't try to escape again. They were so tight that the slightest motion would choke me. I didn't know how long it would be before he came back. My best guess was at least a few days. Tears ran down my cheek as I got a waft of the meat smell upstairs. Brooke's life shouldn't have ended that way. My time was coming, and I couldn't stop it. The pepper spray was gone. All I had left was this stupid notepad and pen. I hid it in a crack in the wall next to me. It hurt like hell to grab it, but I finally got it out of there.

Three more days went by. I hadn't eaten anything for almost six. The stabbing hunger pains were almost unbearable. I was weak, slipping in and out of consciousness. Now I could see why it was so hard for Brooke to stay awake. I could feel my body shutting down. All I wanted was for this misery to end. The feeling was familiar when I thought about what Brooke said the day I got here. How she wished she was dead. That's all I wanted. I didn't know why he didn't just kill me already. I guess he wanted to make sure I had no fight left in me. The kill had to be easy for him.

My vision is getting fuzzy now. I can barely see the pages on the notepad. I think I hear him coming down, so this will be my last chance to write.

If you made it this far, that means I've succumbed to a gruesome death. My name is Hannah, and I need you to know I tried. I tried so hard to beat him. If you find yourself trapped like Brooke, myself, and Detective Carter, don't give up. Someone has to defeat him, and I hope it's you.

Amy, Victor, and Tina were shocked as they sat around the campfire. They couldn't believe the story Randall just read.

"Randall, did you really find that notepad in the cabin over there?"

"Yeah, Amy, it was down in the nasty-smelling cellar."

"Do you think someone really wrote it," Tina questioned.

"Umm, guys, I just looked it up, and there is an ongoing search for two girls named Hannah and Brooke. They have been missing for three months. Even the detective hasn't been found," Victor exclaimed.

"Dude, look at the cabin. I think there's a candle burning in the window right now," Randall said panicked.

"We have to get the hell out here guys," Amy shrieked!

fiction
13

About the Creator

Stephanie Downard

I'm a mom of 3 plus a bonus son. I've discovered I love writing, and in my free time, that's what I do! I may not be the best, but that will not stop me! It can only go up from here! I hope you enjoy the words that trickle out of my head.

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  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

  1. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (6)

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  • Cathy holmes2 years ago

    This is great, very scary.

  • J. S. Wade2 years ago

    Awesome story! Well done! (Pun intended) Oh! Well done, please. 😎

  • Loved the gore and the cannibalism! Fantastic story!

  • Heather Hubler2 years ago

    Super creepy and scary!! I liked the twist a the end :)

  • Call Me Les2 years ago

    This is so perfect for a campfire story. Absolutely loved the various scare tactics. The bear trap...my god did I jump! So so sad she didn't make it out, but what a perfect ending for the story to have the teens find that notepad!! Really well done.

  • Angel Whelan2 years ago

    Very ghoulish! Great job!

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