T. Allan Bishop
Started: 22 Jul 97
Last Updated: 7 Nov 04
The sun had just set, but darkness had yet to overcome the small dilapidated cabin by the lake. It was the only sign of humanity for hundreds of miles around. The walls were covered in a green, moist mossy growth, and the wood showed the decaying signs of time. One corner had completely collapsed, leaving the appearance of sophisticated lean-to, and the other main supports were sure to follow soon.
The cabin was crudely built and ancient. Most likely it had been built from trees that once stood where it now resided. Rustic, hand-made iron nails jutted out from the rotting walls of the building, and a makeshift door hung loosely from even more doubtfully crafted hinges.
The trail leading away from the corroding structure had long since been covered by the timeless growth of the forest, leaving no easy entrance or escape from the solitude of the small lake and cabin. Only the smallest creatures of the forest seemed to be able to come and go at will. Except for the ill-fated cabin, no signs of human intervention could be found in the far outreaches of these wooded mountains.
The quiet of the woods enveloped the night and only the steady, soothing sound of wildlife kept time moving. The crickets chirped their song lamenting the loss of light, while scores of frogs echoed their tune along the banks of the waters.
The waters from the lake rippled slightly from the light, steady breeze cooling the air of early night and rustling the leaves of the many trees around. Near the edge of the lake, the mourning limbs of a pair of willow trees fluttered their weeping leaves with each draft of air.
From the water, the cabin was barely visible through the trees and tall grasses. Only after careful search of the shoreline could someone hope to spot the dilapidated building that littered the small clearing to the south.
Just behind the cabin sat the tree. It was no ordinary tree, quite different from all the rest. It would not have been different except for what it contained. Many trees will grow into and around objects placed on or around them give enough time. This one contained bones, the skeleton of the man that once inhabited the disheveled cabin.
The original form of the bones were still visible, outlined in the trunk of the tree. Despite the years of growth the old oak subjected to them, the clear outline of a human set of bones from the torso upward to its skull could be seen embedded into the tree’s side. Even the handle of an old, antique axe was overgrown by the increasingly unique oak tree. The remaining bones had long since decomposed into nothingness.
Karen woke to the searing pain in her right thigh. She skipped past the haze of waking into total consciousness.. The pain was intense, and she glanced down the sleeping bag to see it ripped through and covered in blood that was pulsing out in regular bursts.
Her mouth opened to scream for help, but her throat seemed too dry to accommodate her mind’s request, and a simple whimper came out as her eyes rolled back into her head. The loss of blood was too rapid for her, and she fainted from the deprivation of the life-carrying substance to her brain.
As the sun rose on the campsite, Argent slipped out of his tent and began starting a fire for the morning breakfast. He couldn’t quite place it but something odd seemed to exist in the air. Looking around, he tried to determine what was bothering him, but he saw only the trees of the woodlands and the five tents that his group was sleeping in.
As he flicked his lighter, the sound struck his ears as much more pronounced than it should have, and it hit him. The area was much quieter than it should be. There were no sounds from any animal life, and the stillness of the winds prevented the rustling of trees.
His mind pondered what could cause such an oddity and came to only one conclusion. There had to be some predator nearby. Slowly and quietly he went to his tent nearby. He reached down and gently shook his wife.
“Cathy, wake up.”
She groaned at the unexpected arousal and tried to roll over, but he shook her again.
“Honey wake up, something’s out there.”
“You’re a big boy, stop fretting about the boogie man.”
“No, not like that. Some predator is nearby. I need you to help me wake the others quietly. I’m getting the gun.”
She sat up quickly, “You’re serious, aren’t you?”
“Very. There are no animal sounds, which can only mean that they’ve fled. The most logical reason is some nearby predator.”
She pulled herself out of her sleeping bag and began to make her way tent by tent as Argent took up a position looking out with his rifle. The sounds of the other campers stirring began to fill the air and his tenseness began to subside until he heard his wife’s screams.
“Who, Karen?” came the reply from Maria.
Argent rushed to Karen’s tent and peered inside to see blood all over the interior. He looked at the sleeping bag and saw four parallel slashes through it just over halfway down and drenched in blood. He looked up to where his wife Cathy was trying desperately to find a pulse on her ashen neck. Cathy merely shook her head.
“The tent doesn’t seem to be damaged, I assume it was unzipped?”
“No, in fact, the zipper was kind of stuck when I tried it.”
“How, what?” came a gruff reply from Jeffrey, who was peering in the tent now.
“How did the animal get in? And how did it get out and close up. And an even bigger question, why did it merely kill her and nothing more?”
“What makes you so sure it was a animal and not a person?”
“Well, several reasons, first, do you hear any animal noises?”
Jeffrey paused for a second, and listened. The people from the camp stopped to listen too, and the eerie silence filled the air.
“Right, which probably means a predator that the animals fear is nearby. But more convincing than that are two things. First there are four slashes all parallel. A man wouldn’t be able to do that, because she’d be squirming for subsequent slashes. They had to happen all at once, so they were probably from some serious claws. And also, the death had to occur pretty rapidly because no one heard her scream. Given where they appear to be, that seems to point to them occurring simultaneous, too.”
“OK, so we’ve got some kind of killer creature out here, like in a horror movie?” another voice piped up.
“Stop joking around, Noel, this isn’t the time,” Jeffrey said, admonishing him.
“I was just saying…”
Argent interrupted, “Well, in a way he’s right, he just got the tone wrong. Animals rarely kill and don’t feed on their victims, so this is some kind of killer creature. But worse than that, it seems to have some kind of intelligence and motor skills, because it zipped the tent back up.