Green Cabin part 13

Also she intrigued me. The small spark of excitement she’d lit in my chest earlier grew a bit as I watched her. Something about her manner, the way she cautiously moved, like she needed to conserve energy, or perhaps had too much of it.

She looked up then and when our eyes met, I saw, or thought I saw an interest that went beyond helping me escape, if that was what she really planned to do. She stood and walked around the table, and stopped close enough I felt her body heat. My heart told me I was in trouble that I was beginning to feel love for her. After Blythe, I never wanted to feel anything for anyone. Love became an unbearable burden with chains of disease and death dragging along behind it. The suffering I saw and personally experienced forced me to beg myself to burn and bury the ashes of all emotion. No more pain became the focus of my destiny.

It was then I knew what I truly sought was solitude. Yet now I felt a growing attraction for the unusual woman standing next to me. If I didn’t stop it and walk away, no run, I would be lost to desire.

She leaned and gently kissed my cheek. Nothing more for she quickly straightened, and walked barefoot to the hall entry.

“We should explore more. It seems as if you are anxious to complete a goal you didn’t know existed.”

Instead of telling her I disagreed, I pulled my boots on and followed her out the rear door. The white marble tile path was gone. In its place was bluestone gravel. She walked on it as if the sharp edges and corners didn’t hurt her feet.

I stood staring suddenly thinking that perhaps I’d fallen into a deep clinical depression and what I’d seen and experienced until that moment was nothing more then a string of hallucinations. A chill of fear faltered my step and I tripped, landed hard on the stones, lacerating my palms in several places, ripping holes in the knees of my jeans. If that was a hallucination, I thought, then it hurts like hell.

But fear becomes a companion when we step far outside our so-called comfort zone. An unwanted one, and one that stops us from doing anything further that might cause more fear. I’d never been one to chose flight over fight before I decided staying alive was more important than giving up another vial of blood. Now, standing slowly, examining my hands, and picking out tiny pieces of stone slivers, I felt confused.

“If this is not an illusion, a hallucination, then what is this?” I’d spoken what I meant to keep inside.

“I do not present you with illusion and you are not hallucinating. All of this is as real as the blood dripping from you knees and hands, the pain you feel.” She turned and walked back to the cabin. “Join me and I will tend to your wounds.”

Feeling otherwise frozen by indecision, I did as she suggested. Maybe it was that moment I decided I needed to return to my town and see if I could do anything to help. Guilt was another thing I wrestled with. I strode away from people I knew, friends and family, but they’d turned on me pushing the final decision with their repulsive behavior.

Green Cabin part 12

She sat on a small stone chair, more like a throne. It was crafted from a single block of sandstone aged by centuries from its appearance. The back was higher then her head, cut like a fleur-de-lis with hole under the curled arms. The chairs legs too were curved but these looked like unicorns with their backs as armrests, head, mane, and single horn worn where hands had rested.

I looked down on myself expecting I’d be covered in blood, and worse. There was some, but not enough. When I examined the ground around me, I didn’t find his body, his remains. My head began to hurt, confusion drilling like duel migraines destined to meet in the center to explode and cripple me.

Darkness fell, and I wondered if somehow the moon hid behind thick gathering clouds, or if I accidently walked into a portal to a place of total night.

My eyes opened slowly. Fear now overshadowing life. What purpose?I thought and rubbed both eyes with my fingertips. Turning my head to the side, I saw a tiny window. Beyond was the forest I walked through to find her. Sunlight, red and orange crept along tree trunks not telling me if it was sunset or sunrise.

With effort, I sat, discovered I was wearing underwear only. My clothing sat piled on a small caned seat chair next to the table with the water pitcher and bowl.

My bare feet touched a cool wood floor. As I shifted my weight to stand, I nearly collapsed. The owl was standing on a shelf at the head of the staircase. Its eyes studied my movements, and I actually felt a brief embarrassment. There’s nothing wrong with me physically. I’m what was once termed a gym rat. Yet the owl had me yanking on my jeans like a schoolboy caught peeing in the woods.

Then I wanted to talk to it. So I said, “How did I get here? Did I walk, or did she somehow drag me here?”

The owl blinked, eyes quickly flashing from gold to blue, a line of red around its irises and then solid gold.

“Is that an answer?” I sighed loudly and cleaned up, finished dressing and carried my boots downstairs.

She was sitting in her waiting room, reading a true book. Not the one she gave me, which I had upstairs, but one with a blue cover and gold lettering on the front cover. She closed it and stood. “We should eat. You must be famished.”

My stomach growled in response. Together we went to the kitchen where again a meal waited. After cramming the last bite of buttered black bread into my mouth, I swallowed and said, “I don’t know your name. What should I call you?”

“At last you show interest. I’m glad. You may call me Attrea.”

By then I didn’t realize that slowly my life shifted from donor with a death sentence to someone giving control of, their life to a stranger. I’d spent two nights in her cabin, or I thought I had and when considering that, I decided she was right when she said I sought her not her me. Perhaps it wasn’t her exactly that I sought when entering the forest, but I was seeking escape. I felt a powerful desire to be as far from my town as I might manage, but hadn’t really considered the effort required.

No matter what, I thought, I’ll find a way, a place to be safe even if I’ll need to live alone until I die.

Green Cabin part 11

“You know more about me than I’d expect. Is there a reason for this or are you just guessing?”

She glanced at her owl as if seeking an answer. The owl was placid as far as I could tell, but perhaps not so with her.

“At this point an explanation might prove objectionable to you. Trust me when I tell you that I mean you no harm. After all, it was you who sought me not me you.”

“I did not travel here seeking anyone or anything other then escape from what had become daily torture and endless deaths. I know I failed them, but it became life or death for me and I chose living.”

In answer she nodded and then held out her right hand extending her arm until her fingertips were six inches away from me.

On her palm was a thin needle of light. It stood straight up no more then eight inches tall. It seemed alive, squirming within, blinking an array of colors. Her fingers curled up as if to cup the light among them. The illumination began to grow in height and width. When it was too large for her palm, she released it and then she faded and disappeared. The light settled to the ground where she stood and then successfully replaced her.

Quickly it grew larger then me, wider than the arch nearby, and from inside of the light I saw my best friend striding in my direction. His blue eyes were fixed on me blonde hair in total disarray. His face showed determination and a seething rage that made me take a step backward.

He appeared to be real flesh and blood, as real as me. Three feet away, he raised his right hand and pointed a black Glock handgun at my heart. His forefinger was pressing the trigger. Over his shoulder, I saw our hometown littered with hundreds of corpses, haphazardly stacked as if there was no one left to remove them.

He glanced back and then stepped even closer to me. “This is your fault Stanton. Everyone is dead now or dying painfully, except the few like me who you saved with your magic antibodies.”

“My god,” I said softly. “Living like that would be worse than dying.”

“You’re right, Stanton.” He pressed the barrel of the Glock against my sternum, pressed hard. I ignored the unexpected sharp pain and eyes closed, attempted to prepare for the death I wasn’t ready for.

I recalled the unfinished true book in the green cabin.

Then the pressure was gone. I opened my eyes and saw that he’d turned the gun on himself barrel tight under his chin. Before I could react, he pulled the trigger. Deafening volume shades of red, and white, gray, too rose in a cloud of mist and obscured the early moonlight, and then slices of silver light cut paths through his history and lit my return to her.

Green Cabin part 10

I walked behind her, exited the cabin through the rear door, which I had noticed earlier was so narrow and short that I needed to turned sideways and crouch down at the same time to fit through.

Once outside, I didn’t see her but what I did see surprised me. There was now a white flat marble tile pathway that after fifty feet turned sharply left.

Assuming she went that way, I followed. After close to thirty minutes, I realized I was utterly lost except for the walkway. One more sharp turn, this time to the right, and I saw her. Her hair was now loose wavering like it might if there was a breeze. But the air was quite still.

Her owl again sat on her shoulder and watched my approach, its gold eyes not blinking as I stopped where she stood waiting.

Shaking my head slightly, something I felt I needed after locking eyes with the owl, I stood before a stone archway perhaps fifteen feet high at the center, eight feet across. The stones were old speckled gray granite intricately carved with a language I didn’t recognize and animals and flora both real and mythical with much I could not identify.

I glanced at her, but her eyes were closed as if she was meditating. After waiting several minutes, I asked, “What is this?” I attempted to speak calmly, but a quiver of excited anticipation had my heart racing and came though with my words.

Finally she opened her eyes and stepped close enough to touch. “This is the first of many you need to see. For now know this as a portal.”

“I don’t understand. A portal to what or where?”

“That depends on your needs and desires. And you should know that both of those may not be what you consciously think they are.”

Trying to focus on what lay through the archway, I believed I saw a primeval forest beyond a wavering cloud of mist just dense enough to make recognizing anything nearly impossible. All I could see with certainty were massive tree trunks, some close enough together that they seemed to lean against each other.

On both sides of the archway where we stood, and elsewhere in the forest around us there was no sign of mist or fog. The sun was setting, but its illumination remained brilliant and penetrating.

“Why do you show me this?” I didn’t turned to look at her since I was a bit mesmerized by the tree trunks. I felt a strong urgent drive that I then understood was as much fear as excitement.

“A person in this life is driven to find purpose.” She waved a hand and shrugged as if the idea was either confusing or meaningless to her. “After what it seems you’ve experienced recently, you might consider seeking purpose where it truly exists. Your world,” she paused and this time waved her arm as if to encompass the planet, “is inhospitable to humanity now. This is known to happen, but when so many are lost so rapidly it becomes ethereal, not an event the mind can accept. And then purpose stumbles fatally and shifts into dormancy.”

Green Cabin part 9

I’d crushed to book to my chest and saw my tears now drying on its leather cover. Realizing that the book was comfortable to hold, gave me a feeling of quiet acceptance. Then, I wanted to know where she found it, and suspected she had a hidden library.

Why not?I wondered. She is living alone in this place. It was that moment I checked the title to be certain I’d read it correctly earlier. In fact I read it three times and then turned slightly to look in her eyes.

She smiled kindly placed her hand on my arm and gently guided me back to her cabin.

We sat in the kitchen and ate the meal waiting there. I didn’t think to question its being there. When finished, I felt less pain and a touch of curious joy. Not much but enough.

The book sat on the edge of the table between us. The desire to lift it, read it felt powerful. Yet now there was also a thread of trepidation attached to the prospect of completion.

She pointed at the book. “That is for later, or you may take it when you leave here.”

I had raised the book and opened the cover to read, yes actually read a true book’s title page. After scanning the page, I closed the cover and placed it back on the table.

“Now,” she said as she stood, “I wish to show you a place not far from here.” Her voice carried no emotion, which made me wonder if it was just a garden in the woods. She must’ve had one for vegetables and flowers.

She walked around the table and stared at my feet as if it was necessary to determine whether I was shod for a trek into the forest.

I smiled internally knowing that my boots were designed for hiking, but said nothing. Her feet were bare.

She nodded once and said, “Come with me.”

Green Cabin Part 8

When I stood, I discovered a large ceramic pitcher of water, with matching bowl. They bore a woodland motif several shades of green twining into small animals like red squirrels, but with a different tail. Thiers was thick and the base ending in three feathery curls. A herd of deer stood around a pond, some drinking while others grazed the grasses underfoot.

No owls, I thought.

I splashed water on my face and neck, used a green facecloth and scrubbed off yesterday’s sweat and dirt. It wasn’t as thorough as I’d like normally, but enough that I felt some confidence return. All isn’t lost. I dressed.  Carrying my boots, I went down and found the cabin empty. A pot of tea sat on the small stove, steam floating upward.

Since she’d left a cup and saucer on the table, I poured and drank tea. This time it revitalized me enough that I grew more curious as to why she was alone in a forest unlived in for perhaps centuries. I spotted crumpets, took one and after donning my boots, walked out the small rear door, down three steps expecting to find her there. I was alone still.

Walking into the forest as I began to concentrate on what to do next, I heard her quiet melodic feminine voice. “If you awoke this morning and learned this was your last day on earth what would you do?”

I smiled knowing she might not see and said, “I’d try to finish the book, I’ve been reading.” I reached for my travel tablet and barked a laugh realizing I’d left it hidden in my electro, locked and secured in a place it would never be found.

Her warm breath brushed across the nape of my neck, and then she reached around me and asked, “This book?” She passed me a true book and I nearly dropped it, as its weight was more than I expected a true book to weigh.

My voice was so quiet when I spoke next, I wasn’t sure I spoke aloud or was thinking. “No one I know has ever seen a true book not to mention actually holding one.” I really didn’t know how to react to what she’d given me especially since it was the same book as on my tablet that’d I’d been reading before I left home.

Then I looked carefully at her, raised the book between us as it if might prove to be a barrier. Against what, I wasn’t sure but I kept it there. “Now that I have this,” I glanced down, “does having it imply that I’ll die when I finish reading it?”

“Is that what you desire?”


She nodded not looking away. Then she blinked twice slowly the way a cat might to express affection.

Grief punched into my chest like the fist of evil greedily seeking my soul, my purpose my desire to live. Tears flooded my eyes and my voice broke when I said, “I’m no longer sure if it would be worse than living.”

She tilted her head, eyes on mine and spoke some words I didn’t understand. The owl appeared flying from the forest in the direction I’d been walking after leaving the cabin earlier. It landed gently on her shoulder, eyes wide but golden not red.

She made a sound that sparked a place in my chest rarely touched by emotion and now not accustomed to feeling anything since my companion Blythe was overcome brutally by the pandemic. Quickly I saw Blythe’s eyes, as she grew aware of death’s cold nails dragging a twisting severing path along her spine.

She had amazing brown eyes always filled with expression and rarely with anger. At that moment the light within them blinked, more like an omen of hesitation and unexpected conclusion. I held her hands, then bones with a layer of fragile skin. They were cold in places, blue there too, and too warm in other spots. As the virus bit into her heart, she gasped, arching her skeletal frame high in the middle. I thought she might snap, but instead she screamed soundlessly. My heart died as I watched life’s light, that tiny spark that forms at the moment of conception shiver and extinguish.

Green Cabin part 7

I did. The warm liquid slid down my throat. Slowly, at first, and then quickly my mind filled with images of life pre-pandemic. I felt a overpowering desire, a desperate longing to return there and alter my behavior then, my words of unkindness, my neglect and my ignoring the so many people I knew then that were now dead.

As I placed my empty cup on its saucer I took a long slow breath hoping to dampen the intense strength of emotion nearly overpowering me. But physically tingling currents warmed me. Not a comfortable warmth, but a sensation of quiet demand as if I was suddenly required to take a specific action albeit utterly unknown.

I hadn’t realized my self-awareness pulled me tightly within my head and struggled to refocus on my companion. She sat with an elegance of supreme cognizance. Almost like she carried the wisdom of a woman a thousand years old. Someone who knew life and its nuanced layers, sliced into years, months, days of experience, joys pains and all between, more than I could ever imagine.

What are you doing out here alone?I thought, wondered if she might be offended if I queried her. I lifted my right hand, and then lowered it to the cool tabletop.

“You must rest,” she said as she pushed back and stood. “I will show you to the guest quarters.” She smiled at some inner thought. “Not much but safe and after we will eat before I take you to see something you may desire more than the seeming loneliness you’ve chosen.”

“There’s an option?” I asked and stood too. “I’ve turned my back on everyone I might’ve helped. The only choice I have now is to escape to a place where I can try to live out my life with less grief and regret.”

“Rest now.” She pointed her delicate tapered fingers at a narrow staircase. It twisted up and to the left with no handrail. The wood was old and hand-hewn like the rest of the cabin.

Without hesitation, I obeyed, exhaustion’s weight rested heavily on me. Once at the top I was in a tiny but large enough bedroom with a thick inviting mattress on the floor layered with sheets and blankets and several soft pillows. It was alongside a window not much wider or taller than my shoulders. I sat on the edge, pulled off my boots and socks, yanked down my jeans, and before I knew what happened, was asleep on my back.

I dreamed, but the sunlight, lacing across me and the bed, and room dancing behind trees wavering under the pressure of a light breeze erased them. I thought I could hear the trees movement, feel the rays of light living things caressing my thoughts.

Green Cabin part 6

I was not alone and wondered if I should turn and leave or try knocking on the dark green door. Indecision is like staring at the barrel of a laser pointed to your head with the red kill light blinking. Slowly I took several steps and stopped at the two stairs leading up to the tiny porch. The white chair looked decrepit from where I stopped to examine the cabin but now I saw a newly purchased piece of furniture. I glanced down and saw the porch floor was clean level and raised a foot to climb up. I stopped before contacting the first step when the ornate glass doorknob turned.

Before realizing it I had hastily backed up fifty feet ready to turn and flee. I had no weapons and didn’t want a physical confrontation.

The door opened slowly without making a sound. I felt my jaw drop as the opening door revealed a woman dressed in white gowns. Her feet were bare. Her raven black hair with threads of gold that sparkled enticingly hung in a way that made me think it was braided loosely so it cupped her face.

When our eyes met, I stopped breathing. Hers were silver so intense I knew looking away would require more effort than I had left inside me. She stood about five-five tilted her head questioningly but said nothing.

Then she lifted her hands, which let me see she was holding a white owl that stood two feet tall. How I missed I didn’t know.

The owl’s eyes were gold, then turned scarlet as it swiveled its head to examine me. After a few long seconds it turned its head to look up at her. As it did its eyes glided then became silver like hers.

Shaking my head broke the spell I felt I was under and gave me a chance to draw a long breath and finally speak. “I was walking through the forest hoping to reach the ocean within a week or so. I didn’t expect to find anyone out here. The pandemic has…” I stopped when she moved as if her action was the sound of a voice interrupting me.

She bent enough so the owl could move from her arms to the white porch chair. Then she straightened and said with a voice like silk and satin. “You must come in for tea.” She sounded like she knew me. “I am aware of the pandemic and assure you it will not ever reach here.”

She turned and entered the cabin without looking back to see if I’d followed. So I did.

Passing the owl, I slowed and glanced down carefully to see if it watched me. Its eyes were closed as if I now bored the glorious creature and it slept soundlessly after accepting my presence. I suspected it would awaken and show its anger otherwise.

The door closed behind me, with a nearly inaudible click despite my not touching it. The pressure inside the cabin seemed different than outside. I had the urge to clear my ears like I would after reaching a higher altitude.

I located the woman after walking through a small sitting room furnished sparsely with a red and green upholstered loveseat and matching armchair. A plain oak wood coffee table stood in the middle.

The floor was bare wide wood, planks some as wide as sixteen inches.

She was pouring tea from an ancient, intricately engraved silver and gold teapot into matching cups. The steam smelled seductive with invitation.

I sat on a white chair that matched the one on the front porch and two others around a circular white table with a carved center leg with four extended legs that ended that in lions’ claws. A small white porcelain sink, half-refrigerator and two-burner stove completed the area we were in.

I watched her take a small sip of streaming tea, winced internally, but she didn’t seem to react to the heat. As she drank her eyes closed her lips tilting into a small smile of pleasure.

She placed her cup on a matching saucer and waved her hand at my cup. “Please drink.”

Green Cabin Part 5

As the sun rose, I heard an upsurge of wildlife. Songbirds’ crescendo a breeze rustling the leaves, pine needle overhead, and a light drizzle to trigger activity. Once on the ground, I shook out the knots that kept the hammock in place and quickly packed everything. The rain grew with intention, and I sought shelter.

There was nothing nearby so I continued to walk eastward knowing there would be abandoned towns not far away. Most small towns and villages now stood empty after the pandemic’s slithering tentacles grew quickly in number fed by smothering blood clots of ignorance and hate and then finally rotting death.

Steadily, the trees seemed closer together. It smelled primeval, damp earth wet pine heavy green moss first cluttering the animal trail I chose and then clinging with a destiny of domination up tree trunks.

The air was heavy wet as was the ground layered with decades of rotting pine straw, leaves, bark, and tree limbs. Ah but the odors felt seductive, charming my concerns until I worked my way up a hill where no hill belonged.

The forest seemed to spread arms of invitation allowing me to see and then enter a small clearing. Not much more then a hundred fifty feet wide, but certainly intentional. I knew of its intention due to the small cabin on a foundation of fieldstones that sat in the middle. The structure had the same green moss covering the west sides and roof, but somehow seemed lived-in despite its state of disrepair. The hand hewn lap siding and shake shingles looked ancient but still solid.

At the front stood a porch about as wide as three doors, two steps up off flat stones set in the forest floor. The porch roof was adorned with a string of eight colored flags, solid colors blue white red dark blue white dark blue white and red. The porch roof was held erect by a pair of tree trunks with the branches cut off leaving stubs behind. There was a green front door stained by time’s encouragement and a white kitchen chair with an arched back. To the right of the porch the cabin angled back forty-five degrees or something close to that with what appeared to be a room extending off that side. To the left was a lean-to. I saw a second story window leading me to think there was a loft as the cabin was quite compact. A galvanized metal smoke stack rose from the rear of the cabin. It had a cross piece at the top to keep sparks and ashes from filtering into the surrounding woods.

I stood fifty feet away and was about to walk around the oddly out of place structure but stopped as if I’d bumped into an invisible wall. A thin light grey tendril of smoke twisted like distorted serendipity into the damp heavy air.


GreenCabin part 4

Three days, or nights later, 3am. First I twisted and broke open a disposable razor and sliced open the flesh above the identification chip injected under my flesh below the left elbow. Once it was removed, I was just Stanton Wilson a guy six foot two weighing 183 with dark brown hair and light green eyes. The digital version of me was gone. I wondered if I would eventually miss it.

I drove my electro towards the only opened road. By the time I was within a half mile of where it exited the county, I saw the blockade at the approach to the Pangbourne Bridge. White red and blue lights strobing as if they alone could create a barrier. Engaging all wheel drive and inflating the tires for off-road I turned onto a narrow dirt pathway not used in decades. I knew since I’d driven it to escape before. But this time I wasn’t planning a return. A few dozen miles into the forest untouched by logging in almost a century, I discovered that the last major storm downed trees totally blocking the dirt roadway.

I shut down the electro and gathered my supplies. By the time I finished a light rain fell. I shrugged into all weather gear and disabled my vehicle. It would not run or power up without the chips and fuses I removed and sealed in a waterproof pocket in my backpack.

To be safe I left the dirt road, and headed in the direction of the Atlantic Ocean. I was at least a week’s walk from the shoreline, but my time was now mine again. After several hours as night slipped dark fingers around me, I strung a hammock twelve feet above the ground between the trunks of long leaf pines. With a climbing rope, I carefully rolled on the hammock hanging my pack above my feet. The rain stopped and the moon poked between overhead tree branches. It looked like a silver white lopsided grin, that seemed more threat than invitation.

For the first time since the pandemic dragged its blood and flesh dried claws throughout the land, I felt safely protected by obscurity. Sleep was a welcome companion and I wrapped my soul around its stillness and slept until dawn.