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.