The Hand of Fate
Time Never Knocks, It Only Comes In
The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window. Though, Celia felt she’d always been here in the immense comforts of the cabin’s warm air and hard wood cedar interior. The smell of chocolate and old books permeated her senses as she turned the page to her book she’d been far too much into, to venture outside today.
The room was a nest of warmth cloaked with the honey glow pressing from the fireplace, and at the center was her on her loveseat dressed in silk hallway though another adventurous read. Her bare feet rubbing between the cushions taking great pleasure in the texture massage their tenseness away. The velvety crackle of the vinyl record seeded into her auditory senses underneath the smooth orchestral music that aligned her focus on her page and set her heart at ease in her own company and the company of all the nature that surrounded her outside these wall.
She turned a page with a great sense of contentment. Outside, the stars held vigil in a crepuscular sky as the forest swayed in unison with the breeze. Guardians as she thought of them. Guarding against what she didn’t imagine anything but the mundane of an open field as she enjoy the natural mystery imbedded into the labyrinth of the forest. Getting lost in them was a childhood fantasy of hers and now here she is. Turning the page to her favorite reads lost in solace in the warmth of a fire and blanket next to the cool of the late summer night in the middle of nowhere.
As her mind drifted into the forest away from her story she realized it’d been since morning she’d eaten anything. Setting her book aside she felt her head lighten as she stood up but taking her breath set her straight and also reminded her of chocolate.
Melting chocolate on the stove.
She tied her robe to save from the cold draft that tend to dominate the stairs. There in the light of the kitchen a pot of simmering melted chocolate. She opened the fridge to find just what she was looking for: strawberries. She was disappointed in the banality of her proclivity but the culinary guidance of the populace seemed to have this one numbered. There really was no fruit to chocolate combination better than strawberries and chocolate.
Dipping one of the succulent berries into the chocolate then across her lips. In combination with her famished state she was awash with euphoria. Opening her eyes and smiling to herself she caught something come to her kitchen window. Turning her head in scrutinize more came and thought it was quite early for these to show in August.
Simultaneously, with this seasonal peculiarity was the continued sensation of of euphoria. She felt confident, powerful..complete. It was very much the feeling after being intimate with a man who new what he was doing. Her entire being felt content and she needed nothing more. Just to be.
She then felt something cold pull at the nape of her neck as if it was gripping her spine to turn her head. Her heart began to race but her min was in doubt that she was in any danger given the levity of the evening.
Connected to the cold allure she dropped the strawberry to the counter, it’s chocolate still warm, smearing across the immaculate dark marble. Compelled to stray from the comforts of the kitchen ignoring he stomach pangs to follow this growing curiosity that something awaited her upstairs. Not the perfect reading nook or eagle claw bathtub surrounded by the company of candles, but something outside in another room she had forgotten. The creaking wood that often resonated as she ascended and descended the stairs no longer felt like the playful language of a home offering small talk as she went her way, but it now felt ominous as if taunted her courage, for the first time, in as far as she could remember, tremble into fear. She felt her silk robe skirt across the goosebumps overtaking her body. Long gone was the euphoria.
As she now stood in the upstairs room as she felt the cold pull her to the small room greyed in the pale light of the moon for no lamp or candle accompanied it. Just a large window looking over the now dark forest gathering snow on its iron pane as this uncanny August snowfall strengthened. On the small rustic wooden desk was typewriter prepped with a sheet of paper with a single paragraph typed. It must have been all there was as there was nothing else but stacks of untouched blank paper, darkened only by a film of grey dust. She unsheathed the paper from the typewriter to read it.
It was in those days the sky’s had grown dark for as long as time could be without light, and only next to a hearth by the sea, the humans that were left to forge on, could see in each other that they were no longer who they used to be. Humanity was, to them, extinct, and their death was nigh. Little did they know the children on the other side of the sea, carried a wisdom and light long forgotten for several generations. There was hope, if there was survival for the unlikeliest of kind.
Celia recalled that this was the story she began months ago and immediately found disdain in it and discarded it. Across the text on the the light formed into a moon glitter as if it shone through water. She turned to look out the window and then her eyes darted around the room. No water. She stared back at the moon, her curiosity reeling, while her mind teetered on the edges of the page in her hand.
Focused on the moon she felt the sting of cold splatter onto her hand. Jolted she looked down to the page. Water had dripped onto the page smearing the prose now lost in illegibility. She looked up to find where the drip was coming from but her scrutiny was truncated by a violent thump. A sudden heavy-handed & slow knock at the front door. This should not be. It could not be. No one was within hundreds of miles from this remote location, nor did any one know she was here. Surrounded by mountains it’d be difficult for anyone to make it here. To her knowledge no one but her knows this place exists.
The knock came again jolting her once more into a rigid frame crunching the page in her hand as her grip tightened. She could feel her heart throbbing in her inner ear and her eyes swell with tears, as the sound haunted her. She stood atop the staircase staring the front door down defiant to whatever perpetrator may be on the other side.
BRAHCK! BRAHCK! BRACHK!
She watched the door shake as the knock banged again. Taking a deep breath she walked down anticipating another foreboding bang to call her like a tolling bell. All was quiet but the creek of the stairs, the snow gathering on all the windows and music still softly playing from the spinning vinyl in her nook. She tried to tell herself it just may be a traveler in need of food and water, but she knew none of that made sense. She could not shake the thought that this could be nothing good.
Visibly shaking now, she peered out the door’s magic eye to reveal the one who knocks. Outside, the silver lined trees rustled crisply in the August winter winds, the courtyard garden lie quite as it was slowly buried in the wintry blanket sure to not survive the night. And at the door….
Nothing was there. Was she beginning to lose her mind? Maybe being alone for an unknown length of time was not healthy, even if it was in her own utopia.
Ensuring the door was locked she had the fleeting thought of barring the windows but cast the thought off as she sure it wasn’t worth it given it may be nothing. She may just need to turn in for the night after a warm bath.
She turned to head back upstairs, but as her foot reached the first step, the knock came again. It was an assault to her body, shattering her resolve, she jumped and yelped tears escaping into streaks down her face. Gaining her resolved she slowly turned fearful that whomever was on the other side of the door surely knew she was there just feet away. She took a careful step to look thought magic eye to scrutinize the courtyard once more. Falling snow against black the the tattering of of frost in the rustlingly canopy of the evergreens.
Nothing. Still nothing. Both afraid and frustrated she carefully turned away thinking of what we she could do. Her thoughts didn’t have a chance to run long before they were broken by the damning knocks at her door.
BRAHCK! BRAHCK! BRA-
Before the 3rd knock could finish she tuned threw her face upon the magic eye peering once again not letting herself be outwitted by this obstinate antagonizer.
And there it was, but it should not be. The 3rd knock had finished after she peered thought the magic eye, but no one was at the door. There beyond the courtyard, some 50 meters away, set against the falling snow and moonlit pale lines of the giant trees a tall slender silhouette of a top hat and long coat stood still. She could feel it staring into her and she could not look away for she was cursed with fear to make this thing let her know she wasn’t going mad. The cold pulled on her neck and a sense of nausea squeezed at her stomach but she ignored it all and stared at the shadowy figure, determined not to be the first to blink.
The figure was motionless. She would not believe that this was simply a shadow and her mind was making all this up. The sounds of the record playing resonated down the stairs, the snow pattered more heavily against the iron panes of the cabin and the howl cold august wind was the only sound between them.
She had had enough.
She unchained the door and in her anger and defiance threw it open and stepped onto the snow-covered cedar porch and let her voice rip through the snowfall,
“WHAT DO YOU WAAAANT!?!”
Tears on her face and terror and obstinate determination in her voice. The wintry wind whipped around her half-naked only thin sheets of silk between her and the hellacious elements. She was too afraid to feel the feel the pain of winter’s sting. The blizzard attempted to obstruct her view but her eyes had not lost sight of the ominous shadow that beckoned her here in this ungodly hour.
After a few heaves of her chest within the frigid silence, a glacial crack disturbed the holly bush to her left. What appeared as a shadow rising off the ground was rather, a gloved hand attached to a coat sleeve seeming with no end, as her eyes followed its traveling slope of detachment from the shadows, she made out that it was clearly the uninvited guests arm. The arm folded back like a snake readying to strike, the gloved hand dripping with a viscous ooze balled up and tucked inward. Celia’s frozen in terror and confusion already feeling it as inescapable, broke the chains of dread and flung her body into the cabin thrusting the door shut hearing the hand strike against the door shaking the entire house. She stood up with expedient determination and as soon as she latched the chain, the 2nd knock followed. She stepped back out of breath, and eyes locked onto the center of he door readying herself for whatever came next. Terror’s shadow was leaching her resolve, but her strident heart fought it off. She knew these stories, she could understand this, but why was it real? No matter how familiar she was with the bizarre tales of fiction she couldn’t steel herself to stand up fully the fact that real horror was a part of her life.
The 3rd knock. Where was it? The man or thing was tormenting her with baited silence. A fleeting thought of turning on the lights passed her, as she feared the shadows rising even in her home, but she also feared whatever was outside would be more aware of her presence if she thew the lights on. She just wanted to get as far away from this as possible. She stepped backwards onto the stairs, her eyes never leaving the door. To her disdain, she heard the mellifluous luster of the orchestral music melt in a slowed lull as if the air was filled water.
The winds were now howling, the forest creaking, and the snow now covered the east side of the cabin. The air seemed seemed oddly thick with humidity. It was almost suffocating. As she found herself finally atop the stairs the small writing room now looked like a catacomb the typewriter made of stone and the empty pages were piles of ash. It was then she began to feel lost. Some dark unexplainable world now surrounds her as it bled its way into her perfect home.
She heard the moist slithering from within the writing room. Despite her stomach churning as her nerves were being wrecked from the growing chaos, she advanced towards the small room. A pool of viscous material had pooled onto the floor spreading underneath the chair. Her eyes followed the shimmering trail of slime upward until she was met with an unsettling. There in the corner above the long window now darkened by a wall of snow glistening in the moonlight allowed at the top end of the window’s arch where the snow had yet reached, a set of large webs of hardened slime were being concocted. Concocted by what she did know. Octopi like creatures, pale and pinkish in hue, their tentacles rolled about spreading the ooze building onto the web like the thatching of a roof. The didn’t seem to notice her, and regardless of their small size, they were still terrifying.
She took one step back, and as if she had tripped a wire, without any warning as you’d get from a snake or spider, one of the tentacled creatures leapt onto her neck, one of its 6 tentacle curing over the back of her neck and her ear. She screamed in helpless horror running backwards blind with fear trying to rip it apart from her, but it seemed to suck onto her skin more tightly the more she fought. Screaming she ran to the fire place and picked up the poker casting it in the dying fire. The creature obviously knew what she was up to as it squeezed tightly around her neck cutting off the ability to breathe. It’s tentacles’ thin ends worming their way into her ears on over her eyes.
Eyes watering and face swelling she pressed the poker to the dying embers conjuring a faint flame giving way to the glacial air pouring into the room. Tears streamlined from her reddening eyes in despair as the creature’s suckling around her throat drowned her cries. She had no choice, baring her neck to the fire she threw herself onto the iron grate cradling the flames. A blunt spire tore into the creature as it squealed, but it did not let go. In complete aggregating obstinate it only squeezed tighter. In complete anguish and rage Celia
But in defiant determination to not be outwitted by whatever this was, she turned fiercely around and looked
She heard the screams of souls lost at sea, like the cry of whales stretched into a shriek, then she became one of them. Her lungs filled with black ocean foam and her tears lost into the sea. She looked helplessly into the infinite depth of the ocean above her with no surface in sight. But a a vision given to her of all the children that would have been comforted by her work if she had simply written her what she had to tell.