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We haunt the cabin

July 9, 2020

In the summer before the blizzard, shortly after tadpole season, we moved our base of operations away from the frog pond with its permanent swarm of mosquitoes and its stench of green-slimed mud, and we headed for the cool darkness of the woods. At its border the woods were a thicket of brambles and second growth saplings that discouraged entry. But we were children, and so, undaunted, we pushed through the sharp-thorned blackberry canes and ventured deep through the undergrowth until it gave way to a place where the trees were large and unclimbable. Tall cottonwoods flanked the trickle of a stream, and wide-trunked oaks surrounded clearings overgrown with soft mounds of unmown grass. It was in one such clearing we found the cabin.

I’m not sure which of us saw it first, but it wasn’t long before we called it ours. Our cabin. Our haunted house. It was a small building, just one room with a stone fireplace at one end. It had no panes in its windows, and the lone doorway gaped open with no door to keep intruders out. If the house had ever known a lick of paint, we couldn’t tell. It was weathered gray with splintered siding. Inside, the walls were simply studs, like in the garages of our own homes.

The house stood high off the ground, but no steps led to its open doorway. We stood on tiptoe to peer inside. The floor was thick with dust, but it looked solid enough to us.  Jeff and Greg, both tall, took turns boosting the shorter of us into the house. We pulled on their arms to help them scramble their way inside.

The silence of the house was eerie. No sound of leaves rustling, no gurgle from the nearby creek. The cicadas were only a distant hum. Someone laughed a bit, just to chase away the quiet. The heat of the day was stifling, even in the darkest shadows of the tiny house.

“Do you think it will hold our weight?” “What if someone falls through?” “Nah. It’s solid. Go ahead, walk on it.” And so we crept into the room on its ancient floor boards, daring each other, step by shaky step. There really wasn’t much to see besides our footprints in the dust. The house was utterly empty. We didn’t know about the ghosts, yet.

A few days later, we decided to hack away brambles surrounding the house. The weeds and blackberry canes were hiding something, we reasoned. Maybe a cellar. A cellar would be cool – another strange place to explore. After we’d cleared the weeds away, we found it, a cellar built into a foundation made of stones. Round stones, sharp angled stones, big stones, and little stones, all stuck together with cement.  One small window opened into the darkness below the cabin. We could see a stone wall dividing it in half. We could not see what lay beyond that little stretch of wall. That unknown space made us nervous.

In the thick wood beams of the ceiling were enormous iron pegs. Like the room upstairs and the part of the cellar we could see, the pegs were empty. All but one, that is, and on that one peg hung a rusty hacksaw. That is when the haunting began. An empty house, derelict in the woods, yielding no clue of human habitation except the one – a hacksaw rusting in a cellar. A cellar with a room we could not see. A room that could be full of bodies, people sawn to pieces, now moldering, dusty skeletons.  In bits. The rust of the hacksaw became bloodstains. We ran.

We were only twelve years old, so of course we returned – again and again – to the house we’d made haunted by our tales. Ghosts of the dead. The ghost of the killer. All that summer, we haunted the cabin, creeping through the woods and peering through the cellar window and scaring ourselves silly.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mrs. B permalink*
    July 9, 2020 8:01 pm

    Thank you, Donna. Writing it sure brought back memories.

  2. July 9, 2020 6:39 pm

    Oh, I liked this, Kathi. It was a feast for the senses while it also roused some great tension.

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