Green Cabin part 39

“We must be on our home world,” she said. “Just not a part of it we’re accustomed to. The portals decided where to put us and I don’t know about you but I’m really happy they let you enter where you would find me and save me.” She lowered her head to my shoulder. I heard and felt her sigh of satisfaction.

“I’m not sure we are on earth.” I spoke it quietly knowing how absurdly insane it sounded.

I felt her head move and glanced down to find her staring at my face. Our eyes met, she blinked giving me the distinct feeling she knew something I didn’t but desperately wanted to know.

“It must be, Stanton. How could we possibly be anywhere else?”

“How could portals or gates exist that transported us here?” I kept my voice quiet and emotion free.

She shrugged. “Don’t know but do know that I’m both hungry and very tired.”

“Yeah me to.” I stood and immediately missed the heat.

But she joined me and together we assembled a hot meal with chamomile tea and ate it all. After the cleanup progressed without conversation then when we finished Margaret took my hand and led me into the sleeping chamber. The rest of the night was amazingly better than the entire previous day.

I awoke and it was still dark as a cloudy midnight. Margret slept, and I sat up to look out the small round window behind us. Part of the sky was a black arc and the remainder was filled with stars. The two halves fit together, which was not a surprise. The surprise was the arc. It was very gradual and well defined and looked like it rose up into the heavens. I swore it could not be a normal part of the planet I lived on.

“It’s a mountain range,” Margaret spoke softly against my ear.

“How did you know?”

“That you were thinking about the scene you see in the distance?”

I nodded, smiled and said, “I was yes.”

“You’ll see more and understand more once we get closer, I think. So come back here so we can sleep.”

Which I did with a mind reeling with information both illogical and perhaps awe, inspiring. At that moment I changed my mind and concluded we were on earth in a time and place beyond my ability to imagine. How I got here is the most important question now.

Green Cabin part 38

Confusion was never an emotion I dealt with before discovering the green cabin, or more realistically, before fleeing the outcome of the pandemic. Now it seemed like a not so gentle demon sitting on my shoulder with it’s vile knife edged tail wrapped tightly around my neck. Each time I managed to feel that things were improving, that everything would be for the better, it tightened its slimy grip. It clawed fingers scratching my flesh leaving nearly invisible abrasions filled with the poisons of doubt and regret.

Yet I was not in a place, or in a situation I could revise or control. And when I finally accepted my fate, I left the captain’s chair and landed in a puddle of ice, cold water. Longing to be in the cabin with Margaret reminded me of what I’d witnessed during the storm. I stopped with both hands on the handrails down, one foot on the top step and understood that regardless of what I saw or experienced, I had no place else to go if I didn’t want to spend the night on the deck. And the air was cooling. I was not dressed for low temperatures.

Slowly, silently I went down and found Margaret wrapped in blankets watching my approach.

“I was wondering if you would spend the night up there.” She said, and opened her protective layer of blankets to invite me to join her.

“Just trying to understand this place we are in. The storms come out of nowhere and this one was at least twice as powerful as the first one I went through.”

She frowned and it looked quite pretty. So I went across the cabin and accepted her invite, finding that the blankets were warmed from her body heat. She made certain I was well within their embrace and closed the blankets around us.

I put my arm around her as she did me and the dread and confusion I’d felt melted into memory.

Green Cabin part 37

Shaking my head, I searched for and finally found the switch for the bilge pump, flipped it on and heard the motor roar to life. “We won’t sink,” I shouted.

Margaret nodded and glanced my way. Her eyes had changed. Their blue centers were now ringed with gold. She appeared to be struggling with something. I could read the concentration lining her face, pinching her lips tightly.

As I took a step toward her thinking if I was alongside her it might help, the boat rose and dropped again, knocking me off my feet. I crawled across the small cabin inching my way as I fought the forces of the storm, and smelled the lake water and an odor not unpleasant that seemed to ride the scent of the water.

Finally, I reached and touched Margaret’s left foot. She looked down, smiling as if I was nothing but a delightful child there to amuse her. But the rest of her face distorted by her inner battle showed me that Margaret was more than a beautiful woman. Her flesh writhed, fingers clenching and unclenching, nails digging small bloody moons in her palms.

Abruptly the storm ended. The water flowing from outside stopped and Margaret collapsed like the life force in her had been absorbed by the storm.

Now I could move easily, and reached for her pulled her tight against my chest and lowered my head to feel her breath. There was none, and then she gasped and jerked upright violently enough to snap her spine.

“Margaret,” I shouted and shook her gently, again wrapped my arms around her and held her firmly so she would not injure herself.

Slowly she seemed to recover until I could feel a slow and steady heartbeat, and warm even breath on my face.

When she opened her eyes, they were normal blue beautiful. I kissed her forehead feeling deeply thankful. And Margaret smiled.

“Thank you,” she whispered and closed her eyes asleep in my arms.

She woke slightly as I tried to move her to a bunk, and together we got her comfortable. I removed her life vest and covered her with a light green wool blanket.

When finished, I took off my life vest and again went up to sit in the captain’s chair. The boat was still moving on autopilot. I shut everything down and absorbed the sudden stillness. The sky no longer seemed restless as night settled over us. Since the storm was completely past I looked up to see which constellations were visible from wherever I was on earth.

However there was not a dot of light, not a twinkle, or glow. The night sky was as black as midnight might be if the storm hovered overhead. In the distance, perhaps miles, or even a hundred miles as far as I could discern, a curved shadow with sparkling embers of light across its surface left me wondering what I saw. I found power binoculars, and after adjusting them for me eyesight, focused on the sparkling lights I’d seen.

Even with the tremendous magnification, all I saw were sparkling lights, but now saw they were not all white. Some were blue, some yellow, some red, and too white. As I scanned to the right, everything about my reality shifted beyond anything I could comprehend. There, along what seemed to be a curve landline, was an array of stars. The more I looked in that direction, the more stars appeared, even several galaxies were visible.

“Apparently,” I said quietly, “we are in some kind of deep hole. Or a place on earth where a small world exists?” Yet even that explanation felt miserably simplistic. “My god where the hell are we?”

I wanted to wake Margaret and show her what I discovered, but as I stood the autopilot switched on. The boat shifted so now instead of seeing the brown mountain range with a massive waterfall in front of us, I was staring directly at the sky full of stars. Fumbling with the seat I was in, I reached and flipped off the autopilot. Nothing happened. I flipped the switch on and off several times but gave up when it was ineffective. The boat held a steady speed reasonable, but faster than the last time we used the autopilot.

Again my life is not mine to control. What the hell have I done?

Green Cabin part 36

It was thunder that drove us inside the cabin. Otherwise the deck was fine. But after the previous storm I’d lived through I wanted nothing to do with exposure to the one approaching. The sky had gradually turned from blue to an angry shade of purple with explosive fingers of lightning that squirmed across the sky seeking a place to burrow into the ground beneath. I witnessed hundreds of them covering the distant horizon until they met and gathered forming a fist of a billion volts that would make Thor shudder with fear while his father Odin spread his rage.

Inside the cabin, we found life vests and quickly donned them. Margaret’s made her look smaller as it basically enveloped her torso. As she fixed the fasteners, I fought mine. Finally, she assisted and while I felt mildly humiliated, I mostly felt grateful for her.

We could feel the approaching storm in the air, smell its awesome power and then the boat rose suddenly and rapidly. My heart was jolted with hot adrenaline and I felt the strong need to do something other than sit helplessly. Then the boat dropped for what I guessed to be twenty feet, maybe more.

I knew the storm generated waves, but these felt oceanic. Lake water ran down the steps into the cabin as rain battered the boat and then joined the lake water.

“Pumps,” I shouted as a memory popped into my head from some old time movie I viewed years earlier. “Bilge pumps, we need to find the switch to activate them.”

I looked at Margaret expecting a reflection of the fear vibrating throughout me but didn’t see it. She was standing with her feet in the water and seemed to enjoy its feel.

Green Cabin part 35

I sat back, put my hands behind my head and stopped when the wound in my shoulder complained. Then the painkillers slipped in and the pain was gone. For the first time in a day or two, I felt normal. Maybe because, of Margaret a bit better than normal. Thinking of her reminded me I hadn’t dressed. A shrug and a grin solved that problem.

But after several hours as the sky began to darken Margaret hadn’t joined me. I climbed down into the cabin, quickly donned clothing, and went to the sleeping chamber. Margaret was missing.

Thinking she was in the tiny bathroom named the john, I ate and drank. As I completed the bottle of ale I found in the refrigerator, the boat shifted as if something heavy had dropped onto the upper deck. Anxiety built quickly in my chest as adrenaline’s flame fired through me.

Not for the first time since arriving, I longed for a weapon. A quick search of the cabin provided a heavy wrench. With that in hand, I carefully climbed up and rose slowly enough to peer over the edge of the deck. There I saw Margaret with her feet dangling over the side of the boat. She was wearing a red bikini so small as to be nearly invisible. The material it was crafted from shimmer as she moved making it appear alive.

As I approached her, I thought I saw a tendril of smoke curl away from her head. A chill raised the hair on the back of my neck and I hesitated.

“Hi,” I said hearing doubt in the word so it really sounded like a question.

She glanced back blue eyes not quite right as if her pupils were no longer round and there seemed to be a ring of red-gold around their edges.

She smiled and shook her head and patted the spot alongside her. “Sit with me.”

Feeling oddly apprehensive, I did but when I examined her face and eyes up close, everything appeared normal. She placed her arm around my waist and her head on my shoulder. The feeling of attraction that kept growing in me swelled and I used my arm to hug her against me.

Strange illusion, I thought and questioned if it was an illusion or something else entirely. What the hell is this place? Where did Attrea’s owl send me and why? I bit back the questions I wanted to ask Margaret, which was who are you really? And why were you exactly where I landed after the storm? Coincidence? Or for some unknown reason planned?

She leaned and kissed my cheek gently, lips soft and warm. I turned enough so our lips met and the questions I had for her dissolved into forgotten memory.

Green Cabin part 34

Margaret appeared many minutes later looking completely different. Her blonde hair was radiant, her skin flawless and when she caught me looking at her, her smile was devastating as it lit her eyes. She wore a cream-colored flannel robe snugged tightly around her narrow waist. Her feet were bare and my need flagged my will.

Her back was facing me for no more than a few moments, but on the reverse of the robe I saw the pagan Tree of Life as above so below. I felt my eyes widen, saw the tree’s colors change from brown to living greens with red fruit. The entire tree shivered like a breeze passed across it. The leaves wavered, fluttered, and some drifted from the branches to the forest floor below. There I witnesses small animals scurrying, climbing, actively engaged with the Tree of Life. Blue birds suddenly filled the tree and were gone as quickly as they appeared. Then beneath the largest, longest branch I saw Margaret. She wore nothing but rays of sunlight. She lifted both arm slowly overhead, and when her hands almost met above her, arcs of blue-white energy passed between her fingertips in a shower of brilliant illumination.

Casually, judging from how she moved, Margaret lowered her hands and used them to invite me to join her.

I blinked twice, and heard Margaret as she walked over casually and sat alongside me. The vision dissipated when she said, “The shower felt amazing.” She glanced down as if trying to keep from letting me, know I smelled and looked filthy.

I forced a grin and tried to enjoy her not too subtle hint. “If you’ll take the captain’s chair, I think I’ll give it a try.”

She nodded and swung her legs into the chair, revealing and hiding. The smile still, curving her lips.

I believe that’s the moment I gave up. We were alone. There was nothing to convince either of us there was even a future beyond the moment we lived then.

The shower was better than anticipated. I shut the water off and reached blindly for a towel. A small delicate hand put a towel in my hand. I looked and watched her robe fold up around her feet with the Tree of Life on top and then added the towel to the pile. Margaret stepped into my embrace. She was soft and warm. Our fingers explored. Our lips met with enough passion that I felt there was never any place I’d rather be then with her.

Resting later with her still in my arms, I wondered if I’d just betrayed Attrea and decided that truly I would likely never see her again. The green cabin might be a place she could not ever leave if her true role was that of a guide for people like me, and Margaret seeking an escape to a safer place.

That made me smile. Up until now there is nothing safe about this place whatever it is and wherever it is and even whenever it is. Margaret stirred, but didn’t waken. I smelled her hair and her liking both.

Then frustration exploded in my chest. Where the hell, are we, and what the hell are we doing? It feels like we are moving aimlessly through a land of magic and not necessarily good magic. Things appear and disappear. In fact we haven’t seen much good here other than each other and both of us are actually criminals on the run.

But they can never find us or apprehend us or even stop us now. 

That produced a good feeling. I carefully moved from beneath Margaret without waking her, nearly groaned with the sudden jolt of pain from several locations, but worked my way onto the deck before allowing myself the relief and then did groan.

Damn that hurts. I located the first aid kit from the duffel bag and dug through it until I found painkillers, dry swallowed three and lowered myself into the captain’s chair. The sun was high in the absolute center of the sky. The distant horizon with the brown smudge looked closer. I could see shapes like a forest line, and mounds of hills. There was a line of silver that flickered and wavered and I realized it might be a waterfall.

Green Cabin part 33

Margaret was rousing when I returned. Her blonde hair was badly rumpled, but her large blue eyes looked clearer like she could focus normally. As she reached up to stretch and twist, her torso, I admired her beauty and felt physically attracted, seriously attracted.

Don’t, I warned myself, but there was a hint of feeling that was not brotherly. Come on, the voice in my head said, you may never see another woman including Attrea and maybe this is meant to happen. But I shook it off and waited by the door so I didn’t disturb her.

As she finished and looked around her eyes widened slightly as she saw me studying her.

“I badly need a shower,” she said sounding shy.

Realizing she given me what I needed to get her on our boat, I said, “I think there might be one on the boat.”

“That would be amazing,” she said and let her bare feet touch the floor. She glanced down and added, “Even my feet look like I’ve been living in trash for years.”

“Looks okay to me,” I said and shook my head feeling foolish.

Her reaction was not what I expected. “Thanks,” she said and smiled, then added, “Ugh my teeth feel terrible.” She ran her tongue visibly over them opening her mouth just enough for the gesture to seem like an invitation.

I laughed lightly and pointed toward the boat. “Come girl, let’s grab our gear and get back on the boat. That is if you can walk.”

She was nodding as she walked to me, stumbled just enough for me to reach out and grab her. Again her eyes met mine, but filled with a touch of mischievousness.

“I’ll be fine,” she said as long as you’re there to help me if I need it. Placing my hand under her chin, I tilted her head so I could really look in her eyes. Her lips parted slightly, and I was a second from lowering mine to hers, when a loud crash outside jerked me away.

Margaret yelped, grabbing my hand, and then broke out laughing.

I was looking for the source but said over my shoulder, “How could that have possibly been funny?” Which just made her laugh harder.

While she leaned against the doorsill, I collected our gear, stuffed what I could into the duffel bag, shouldered my backpack on my uninjured side and then placed a hand on her lower back to guide her.

There were a few missteps, and a stumble or two, but we two the wounded warriors finally were aboard and the boat was untied backing steadily into the lake.

What’s gonna happen next? I thought and as I dumped our gear on the lower deck heard a shower running. My sigh was audible, my desire growing, my feet dragging as I climbed up and into the captain’s chair.

Green Cabin part 32

Gently I prodded the cloth bag, but that told me nothing. I stepped outside finding the stone walkway frigid. I was certain my toes curled in response. Once out I looked in every direction, saw no one, or no one moving and wanted nothing more then to go back inside where it was warm.

Instead, I grabbed the duffel bag and found it quite heavy so dragged it after me, and closed the door once back inside the small building. With my back against the door, I saw Margaret sitting up.

“Why’d you go outside? This place might be as dangerous as the creepy house place.” She stood, looking stronger but still in need of rest and sleep. With one hand for support using whatever was available, she approached.

“You should be in bed,” I said and heard the weariness of my words. I pulled the duffel bag where she might see it. “I heard someone outside. They left this behind.”

Her face showed the scowl she must’ve felt. “With my luck it’s a bag of old weapons.”

I shrugged and opened the top. Inside was, clothing, bedding, boots, and, a large first aid kit. As I pulled stuff out and spread them on Margaret’s bunk, I remembered the large bird, now seriously wondering if that was Attrea’s owl and she had it, bring me the duffel bag.

But there was female clothing and toiletries and I knew I was wrong. Wrong and very disappointed. Yet I was unwilling to give up on the idea that I saw her owl.

After it was empty, Margaret went though everything and selected what she could use and wear. What was left was enough to keep me warm and comfortable for days.

By morning I knew we needed to leave. After dressing in clean warm clothing, I pulled on my boots and stepped outside. The boat, our boat, was where we’d tied it down. A quick check showed me that nothing was missing, nothing added.

“Now by what means will you get Margaret onboard?” I stood on the deck, felt the boat moving with the small waves that always seemed to be moving across water whether it was a pond, or an ocean. It was a bit comforting. As far as I could see when looking across the lake, we were alone.

Green Cabin part 31

I was breathing hard and felt a bit weak. She closed her eyes and was asleep instantly.

“Since you left the green cabin, friend, you been fired on with laser canons, almost drown in a nasty storm while rowing a borrowed boat from a total stranger, rescued a lost woman, discovered a weird farm house filled with ancient weapons, discover a miraculously appearing cabin cruiser filled with comfort and necessities, been shot up by someone’s military with historic projectile weapons for unknown reasons, and now again seeking shelter and time to heal.

“Maybe I should’ve stayed and allowed the med-techs to drain me of my precious immune’s blood. Can’t see how this adventure will turn out better.”

I hobbled over and reached to close the door and stopped when I thought I heard a bird flying toward me. Sticking my head outside, I looked up and spotted far overhead, a massive bird with an amazing wingspan flying towards what we thought might be, mountains before docking.

“Could you be?” I started and saw the bird dwindle to a speck and it was gone. Hope springs eternal, grandmother often said, and right then I felt a glimmer of it.

Finding my way up to the top bunk was a process. I pulled off my boots and socks when I got there. I stretched out and attempted to at least relax.

I must’ve nodded off. Approaching footsteps jerked me awake. I quick look told me that Margaret still slept so it wasn’t her walking outside. I thought about the house with the weapons and wondered if whoever I heard was a person who either kept their weapon, or was the creepy guy Margaret mentioned who gathered them up everywhere in the middle of the night and returned to the farm house with his findings.

Pushing myself into a seated position, I climbed down from the top bunk and worked my way barefoot silently to the door. A chill breeze leaked between the door and frame, raising gooseflesh along my arms and torso.

Not a pleasant feeling. I wrapped my fingers around the door handle hoping if the intruder decided to enter, I might make that impossible. When nothing happened for several tension filled minutes, I opened the door and nearly had a heart attack. Pressed against the left outside doorframe was a brown duffel bag. It was stuffed full with something and I wondered if it contained anything helpful or stuff that would cause more pain and suffering. Maybe it’s the creepy guy’s weapons that he’s collected so far tonight.

Green Cabin part 30

My reaction rolled me over and into a drainage ditch alongside a road that ran up to the edge of the dock. Margaret landed across my chest. It was insufficient shelter, but we were where the rounds fired could not hit us. Blood ran off the side of my head, not as much as I feared but enough to make me worry.

I placed fingers to the side of Margaret’s neck and discovered a pulse strong and steady. My eyes filled with tears of relief. I wiped them away with my fists.

As carefully as I could I moved from under her, took off my jacket and folded it for a pillow and placed it under her head. She’d live, but the concussion she had was a grave concern. I couldn’t and didn’t really think about leaving her. She be killed and I lugged around enough regrets from my past. Besides, I’d grown to like her. She acted helpless and lost but was neither. She was tough and resilient a survivor.

I brushed sweat, dampened hair off her brow and face and as I did I saw the blood pooling under my leg.

“So here we are you unconscious and me bleeding to death and pinned down by an unknown adversary for reasons we’ll never learn.” Lifting my butt, I lowered my jeans and looked at the wound. I let out a loud sigh when I discovered it was truly a flesh wound. Not deep but painful and bloody.

I dragged my knapsack closer and dug out the first aid kit. Minutes later I was cleaned and bandaged, with one wrapped around my head.

“You should’ve let me do that,” Margaret said. She tried to sit and failed. Lowering, herself with a deep groan. “Guess I can’t.”

“It’s okay, I’ve finished.” I dragged on my jeans and carefully peered over the edge of the ditch. They were gone their ship was too. We were safe and I had no idea where we landed or where we should go from there. I did see what looked like a fishing shack.

“There’s a building there.” I pointed. “I’m going to take a look.”

She failed to answer, looked blank.

Standing, I limped over. The door was ajar, the building empty. It looked as if it had not been used in years but was fairly clean and dry. Against one wall stood bunk beds with mattresses only.

“We must recuperate.” I told no one and went back for Margaret.

She leaned heavily on me, pulling the pain from my injuries close to a scream. Her right foot scuffed the ground, which made me think she was at least mildly impaired. As I reached the first step, her weight staggered me, knees colliding with the doorsill. I twisted turned and sat heavily with Margaret wedged between me, and the doorjamb.

Me and freedom, I thought grievously and then felt bad for the sudden desire to abandon her.

Well, I thought, you did want to escape the pandemic and its horrors. I nearly smiled.

With extra care, I pressed Margaret’s shoulder so I might climb from beneath her. Succeeding only meant that I had access to the fishing shack and not the ability to close the door should weather again became a problem.

On my feet, the pain from my growing collection of injuries made itself known. Sweat beaded my brow, reminding me I’d not had a shower in days, or however long it had been since I entered the portal. I smelled ripe as my grandmother told me often.

But I could do nothing until Margaret was safe inside and preferably on a bunk. She moaned then. Squatting with the help of the wall alongside the door, I saw her eyes opened. She didn’t look like she could focus and my hopes of moving on, finding a way to Attrea sank further than earlier.

“And that was pretty damn low,” I muttered.

“What?” Margaret spoke weakly.

“We need to get you inside and on the lower bunk bed.” I pointed. She didn’t look. “Can you stand?”

“Maybe if you help me, but move slowly cause I keep feeling like I might vomit.” She turned enough to get on her knees and with me holding her hands, managed to get on her feet.

“We’re a helluva mess,” I said and with great care guided her to the bunk beds. Getting her on it was a process that ended with me lifting her legs and feet and levering her fully on her back.