My week went by pretty well, I didn’t really do much on Halloween night, went to a friends briefly before going home and sleeping. I was really surprised by how few kids came around, last year we almost ran out of sweets, this year we only gave away half and most of that was given to the last group to come to the house.
Hope everyone’s Halloween went well!
On with the show!
The cabin wasn’t as interesting as she had thought, she had searched the kitchen endlessly for some tape, rooting through the drawers, feeling dirty, perverted. There was nothing embarrassing in the drawers, nothing shocking, nothing personal, but still, that feeling of invasion. After finding the tape, she tore apart an old cereal box, using the cardboard to seal off the broken glass. It wasn’t the best covering in the world, but it was the only thing she could think to do. She had stood before the taps, hand resting on the handle. After a few seconds she turned it, clear water came gushing out. She sighed in relief. She had expected there to be either no water, or water that was stained dark red with rust. She turned the tap off then got her bottle and after drinking some of the water, she refilled it. She wasn’t sure if the water was coming through a mainline or from a tank. She didn’t want to waste it. There were three bedrooms and a bathroom, the rooms were still in good condition, the beds were made, she had expected them to be stripped bare, the sheets stored away until who ever owned the place came back. Still, it was one less job for her to do. She decided on a room and pulled back the covers, checking for damp or mold, but it appeared to be fine. One of the rooms had a small bookshelf with a few books on it. She didn’t expect to stay in the cabin for long, but they would make a good distraction. The bathroom had a toilet, sink and a bath/shower combination. She had been hoping to have a shower, but it was an electric one. She hadn’t seen a boiler in the house, nor radiators. Who ever owned it probably only used it in the summer.
Once she had explored the cabin, she went back into the kitchen and pulled out all the food from the cupboards and added what she had brought to it. There wasn’t much but it was enough for the moment. She still wasn’t quite hungry yet and, after putting more wood onto the fire, she hobbled back into the room with the books and picked one. That would keep her distracted for the day. It had been a long time since she had been able to read a book. She went back to the living room and sat on the couch. She realised there was no TV here, she had looked for a phone too, but there had been nothing. The owners probably relied on mobile phones.
She stopped reading as it was getting dark, the firelight too low to read by. She thought she had seen some candles while going through the drawers, but she wasn’t entirely sure. While she still had some daylight, she put the book down and went back to the drawers. There was no electricity in the cabin, though there was evidence that it was used, she figured it needed to be turned on, either at a breaker or somewhere off site. She found the candles quickly, though there were less than she had expected, Ariadne wondered what the owners would do in an extended power cut. She lit two and saved the rest. Carrying one she went around the windows and closed the curtains, she felt exposed with the candle glowing. Once that was done, she wondered about the electricity. There had to be something. She didn’t recall seeing anything outside, but it was worth a shot.
Outside was much colder than she expected, it wouldn’t be too long, just a quick circle around the house. She didn’t like how the woods stared at her. The candle flickered gently, but there was no breeze, the air was still. She moved as fast as her sore feet would allow, scanning the walls of the house until she saw it. At the very back, a grey box, set a little away from the house. She went over, hoping it was what she thought. There was a lightning bolt stencilled on the box. A heavy padlock hung off it. Damn. Were there keys in the house? She turned and went back, wondering if it was really worth it. She looked through the kitchen drawers again, going through so much ephemera, but still no keys. She closed the drawers, about to give up when she saw the key rack. Sitting silent and proud on the wall. Upon it hung a single key. She took it and went back to the box, the pad lock opening with a satisfying snick. The grey door swung open easily, inside were a short row of unmarked switches, all of them down. Unsure which did what, she turned them all up. There were only three. Inside the house there was a sudden dull light from behind the curtain, smiling, she closed over the box and relocked it.
Inside there were lights on and a gentle hum that seemed loud and intrusive. She looked around and saw the fridge, its door propped open slightly. She had dismissed it completely earlier, she shook her head, she was more tired than she had thought. Ariadne blew out the candle and closed the fridge. She tried the stove next, but it still didn’t work. It must need gas, there might have been cylinders outside, those lumps may have been yellow, but it was hard to tell in the gloom. Still, she had lights now, that was a start. With that done, she went around the place and turned off the lights she wasn’t using. She was feeling better with electric lights, it felt safer somehow. She left the candles out, just in case anything happened or a fuse blew. She went into the bathroom and turned on the shower, after a few moments, she put her hand under the spray of water, it was blissfully warm. Her own clothes were dirty and grimy, but in her search she had not seen anything she could change into. The shower cubicle was empty of soaps or shampoos. She searched for a few moments and returned to the bathroom with some small towels. She stripped from her clothes and stepped into the water, after a few moments, she turned it up higher, enjoying the soothing hot water. It had been a long time since she had last had a shower and now she enjoyed it immensely.
She stayed in the shower far longer than necessary, just enjoying the warmth, not even thinking. When she was done, she turned it off and dried quickly, she dressed again in her clothes, though they felt grimy now, and went back into the sitting room. The fire was still going, but it was beginning to die out. There was some wood left, but there was not much. She had seen a pile of wood outside, but was reluctant to go out again. She put another log in and went to look at the food she still had. After a few moments, she chose two cans and ate them for dinner. She was tired now and it was getting late, she started to close doors to the rooms in the cabin, wanting the heat to transfer only to the room she would be sleeping in. After sitting in front of the fire for a few minutes to finish drying her hair, she threw another log into the fire place, then went to bed, leaving her door open slightly. The sheets were cold, startlingly so after the warmth of the fire, but she quickly warmed up. After a few minutes she fell into a deep sleep.
It was around mid morning when she woke up, feeling refreshed, she got up and was surprised to find that her legs were still sore. After a few minutes of wandering around the cabin the pain in her legs had started to ease. She ate a quick breakfast and once that was done, she packed up the food she had found, as much as she could carry, leaving behind only a few cans, she took with her the box of matches and a can opener, there had been two so she decided the owners wouldn‘t miss one. Before leaving she went outside and turned off the electricity at box. She returned the key to the holder and refilled her water bottle. Once it was filled she took a long drink, straight from the tap, with that done she had a quick look around for a pen or pencil, so she could leave a note, but there was nothing. She made sure to stir the ashes in the fire place with the fire poker, making sure that it was completely extinguished, she didn’t want to accidentally burn down someone’s house. With that done, she left, wishing she could patch up the broken glass. It had been a lucky find and a good place to spend the night but she needed to keep going. She feared that if she stayed any longer she would become comfortable and be unable to move onwards. If The Lambs knew of this place they might check it out to see if she had stumbled across it, if they caught her it would be over. She followed the road, it was a little over grown but still clearly marked. As she walked she listened carefully for the noise of any approaching cars. There was nothing but the usual sounds of the forest. This walk was much more pleasant than the one she had done previously and when night came it would be far easier to keep a steady pace on the road. She walked for what she estimated to be about three hours before she took a short break, then another two before reaching a turn. The road was running horizontally to the one she was one. She stood at the turn for a few moments, wondering which direction to go. Both would eventually lead somewhere, but which would be the shortest route? She was unsure what direction The Lambs compound lay in, so she was hesitant should she accidentally start going towards it again. After a few moments, she decided that compound would be somewhere on her right and so she turned left. She walked at the edge of the road, ready to hide in the trees should it be necessary. She spent the rest of the day walking and some of the night too.
When she finally stopped she moved off the road, she still had the empty cans from her meal earlier and she took one and wedged it beside a tree near the road, so it was on the left side of the tree, the way she was going, that way, should she become disorientated she only needed to look at the can to see which direction was the right one. She hadn’t wanted to take anything more from the cabin, but now she regretted not taking at least some sheets, she could have spread them across the ground or used them to make a crude covering, the ground was dry at least. She slept fitfully, constantly shifting and waking, fearing that someone was creeping up on her. At one point she woke to the sound of a car driving past, she stayed perfectly still, barely breathing, until it was gone. It had seemed as though it was going much slower than necessary. She dozed until dawn started to creep over the horizon, as light filtered through the trees she got up and brushed herself off, grabbed her things and found the can, it was just where she left it. She picked it up and threw it deeper into the woods, then she started walking again.
Already she felt filthy, the shower had been worth it at the time, but now she regretted it, she wouldn’t have realised how dirty she had been if she hadn’t washed. Still she walked on, she had to.
The further she walked the more fearful she became that she had chosen the wrong road, one that would just peter out or branch off again and again, leading nowhere. She tried to reassure herself that the car had to come from somewhere, but it did little to quell her fears. She made good time, despite not sleeping well, and ate as she walked. It seemed better, once she was finished eating she felt sluggish and full, when she was sitting it made it harder to get back up and start going again. When she rested she would sit and count to three hundred, then she had to get up and start walking again. As she walked she wondered what she would do once she found civilisation. She hoped to be able to use a phone at least. She could ring her parents. She had no money with her, but Ariadne hoped that whomever she came across would allow her to use their phone. Though it was cold, she was kept warm enough by walking, there wasn’t much wind and she was thankful for that, the sky was clear and there was no threat of rain. It was starting to get dark again and she resigned herself to spending at least another night in the woods, but really, it wasn’t that surprising. She had been hoping to find someone, but realistically she knew she would be walking for a long time.
The night passed almost the same as the first, though there was no passing car this time. The next morning was grey and overcast. She walked quickly, hoping to come across something before the rain. Twice she had to go into the woods, hearing a car approaching. Both times she hid for almost half an hour before continuing onwards. She knew it was unlikely to be The Lambs, but she felt safer waiting. The road was travelled, even if it was infrequent, if she should run out of food and water she could always wait on the road and wait for someone to go by. Though she had tried to keep her water consumption low, it seemed as though it was running out. She had drank over half of it already. Now she took sips to take away the thirst. It helped at first, but quickly her body demanded more, getting tired of the teasing amounts she was giving it. Around mid afternoon it started to rain, she kept walking, knowing there was nothing else she could do. Soon she was dripping wet, her clothes sticking to her body. She was cold and miserable, but she would keep going. She had to.
The rain stopped a few hours later, as it was getting dark. She was shivering as she walked, there was a slight breeze now and every time it blew it stole a little more of her warmth. Her teeth chattered, but she kept going. The road had started to curve gently, as she walked she wondered what she would do. She had brought the matches with her and considered starting a fire. It was cold the other nights but not cold enough for one, now she worried that she might freeze to death or become deathly ill, if she hadn’t already. What if the matches got wet? Would they still work? Would any wood she gathered light? What about the smoke? She decided that she’d walk for a little longer and when she was making a camp for the night she’d start a fire and heat one of the tins of food. As she rounded the corner, she stopped. In front of her was a small garage, outside there were a few petrol pumps, inside seemed to have a few shelves of snacks and a cooler full of soft drink. At the cashier desk sat a teenager whose face was cast in flickering shadow as he watched a small TV. Hoping it was there and that it wasn’t some kind of fevered dream, she began to walk again, almost jogging.
The door dinged as she walked in, the teen glanced at her, then went back to his programme before looking at her again. His mouth opened, then closed, his eyes large. Ariadne knew she must look bad, her clothes were soaked, as was her hair. “Can…Can I help you?” He probably thought she was homeless. “Do you have a phone I could use?” “Um…I’m not supposed to let people use it. There’s a payphone outside.” “I don’t have any money.” He looked at her for a second, then glanced around, finally he nodded. “Ok. But can you make it quick?” She was glad it had rained now, she probably looked cleaner from it. “Thank you.” he passed her the phone, “really, thanks.” she looked for a name tag, but he had none. He watched as she picked up the phone. Her fingers danced across the buttons, entering the number she knew so well. She held the phone to her ear tightly, her breathing became heavier, a lump was forming in her throat, oh god, what if they answered and she couldn’t speak? The phone started to ring. It was answered on the third. “Hello, Oriental Palace, how can I help?” Slowly, she put the phone down. No, of course not. They had followed her. Moved with her. There was no one she could ring, there was nothing she could do. Before she could stop herself, she started to cry, the teen looked at her awkwardly for a few seconds, then he dug around under the counter and passed her a box of tissues. She dug one out and wiped at her eyes, then started laughing. It was so absurd, here she was drenched with water and wiping away a few piddling little drops. The teen looked at her nervously and eyed the phone. The laughter quickly died out. “I’m sorry about that. I’m just really tired.” “Did your car break down?” “Something like that.” Wait, they moved, what if? Hope. “Do you have a phonebook?” He shook his head. “I can search for a number online if you want?” “Really?” He nodded, she gave him her parents names, after a few minutes he shook his head. “I can’t find them anywhere. Sorry.” She nodded, trying to think. Who else did she know? Shit. She started to turn and stopped, that investigator, did they say his name? What was it? Peter? No, but it was close. Patrick. “Could you look for a number of a private investigator named Patrick?” “Do you know his last name?” “I think it began with a J?” He started typing. “Patrick Jones?” “Yes! That’s him” “There’s a number here for him if you wanna try it?” She picked up the phone and typed in the number. The phone started to ring.