It wasn’t a house, it was a shack. Jake sat in the car, staring out at the dilapidated building. This wasn’t what he had expected at all. Did he have the right place even? He pulled out his phone and double checked the address. It was, the numbers were hanging askew on the door. It was right. Brad had lied about the place. Not just a little either. A lot. Six bedroom cabin, supposedly with heating and hot, running water. This place might have two rooms at best. Jake got out of the car, hoping that there would be a kitchen at the very least, even if it was a stove. He took off work for this trip and he was going to enjoy it no matter what.
Jake opened the door, it wasn’t even locked. He shook his head and stepped inside. The walls were lined with wood, tools and machinery lay about on tables and on the floor. What the hell?
Jake went back to the car and grabbed his phone. He called Brad and waited.
“Hey, are you there yet?”
“Uh. Yeah, I am. You said it was a cabin?”
“Ok. First of all it isn’t a cabin, it’s a shack, second of all it’s full of wood and tools and junk”
Brad started laughing, “What? What’s so funny?”
“Oh man, you must have come the back way. See the path that leads around behind the shack? Follow that, it’ll get you to the house.”
Jake hung up, glad that Brad couldn’t see how red his face was. Jake got back into the car and drove around the shack, a minute later the trees parted and he saw it, the cabin. It was pretty big. He drove around it to the front, noting the large, paved road. He was sure he passed that turn on the way to the shack, thinking that it wouldn’t be a modern road up to it. He shook his head and got out.
The cabin was as big as advertised, hot, running water, big ass TV, fridge that was already stocked with beer. This place was awesome. Jake unpacked the car and tidied everything away. There was a lake somewhere nearby that was supposed to be good for fishing, something Jake had never done but always wanted to try. Once he was unpacked, Jake helped himself to a bottle of beer from the fridge and checked on the wood levels. It seemed full enough for now, he’d need to make a trip down to the shack in a few days. He didn’t know why they didn’t build the damn thing a bit closer, but he had spotted a wheelbarrow outside, he could use that to lug the wood back to the cabin.
Jake yawned and turned off the TV, if felt a little wrong to be watching it out here, but he was tired and not in the mood to do much else. He took another gulp of beer, then looked at his empty plate. He didn’t feel like cleaning it. The place didn’t have a dishwasher, which was a bit of a bummer, but it wasn’t so bad. He had cooked a steak for himself earlier and had it with some chips. He stood and took the plate to the sink, that would have to do for the night. He turned off any lights he had used and went to bed. The bedroom was dark, he had closed the curtains in it earlier. The thought of someone looking in freaked him out, especially out here. Sure, there would be occasional campers or hikers at worst, but he didn’t want them to see him wandering around in his boxers.
He settled himself into bed, it was quieter than he expected. He thought he’d hear sounds of the forest, birds and animals making noise as they went about their business. The walls must be well insulated to keep out the sound. He tossed and turned a few times, getting himself comfortable, then, he slipped into sleep.
He didn’t know what time it was when he woke, but it was still dark. His mind was groggy, something had woken him, but what? He listened for a minute, but there was no noise. It was probably just some animal call, he turned over and closed his eyes, expecting sleep to hit him. But it didn’t. He rolled over to his other side, hoping that would be more comfortable. As he started to drift off he heard it. A gentle tap tap tapping sound against the window. Were there trees outside the window? He didn’t think there was. There. That tapping noise again. Too even to be wind or a branch. Then, almost inaudible, a faint giggling. Jake sighed. It was kids, messing about with him. He shook his head and turned over, he wouldn’t even bother yelling at them. They’d give up soon.
But they didn’t. That tap tap tapping continued through the night, sometimes there was a giggle, sometimes silence. Jake tried to talk himself into getting up, into looking out the window, into yelling out, anything, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Something inside him wanted him to stay quiet, to burrow deeper under the covers and just pretend the whole thing wasn’t happening. He told himself he was just being silly, that he was freaked because it was the woods, but he couldn’t make himself get out of the bed.
When dawn came the tapping stopped. Finally. Jake rolled over, but he still couldn’t sleep. He was awake from the adrenaline that was coursing through him. Sighing he got up and went to have a shower.
After he bathed and had his second cup of coffee he felt somewhat normal. He’d have to ring Brad and ask about the kids, maybe have a talk with their parents. Not good for kids to be up so late. In the golden morning light Jake couldn’t believe how stupid he had been the night before. All it would take was a yell, maybe a bang on the glass and he would have had peace. With his coffee in hand, Jake went outside to look beneath the window, see if there were any footprints. It might help him prove to the parents that someone was there, even if it didn’t prove it was their kids.
He stood beside the window, looking at the undisturbed dirt. It was soggy and muddy, if there were kids standing anywhere near the window, they would have churned up the entire area. He looked at the glass, it looked like there were some scratches and some smudged handprints. He wasn’t sure about that, the hand prints looked a little off, though he couldn’t quite figure out what it was.
Inside, Jake finished his coffee and rang Brad.
“Hey, how’s the shack treating you?”
“It’s a great place, it really is. I slept like a baby. Until the kids started messing around.”
“Yeah, tapping on my window all night and giggling. You wouldn’t have any idea who they might be, would you? I might go have a chat with their parents, see if they can stop them from doing it.”
“There are no kids in the area.”
“Well, teenagers then, whoever.”
“There are only old people in the places nearby. Even the town only has like two or three kids. You…You didn’t look out, did you?”
“No. I stayed in bed, too lazy to get up or yell.”
Brad let out a sigh of relief, “Good. Look. You’re welcome to stay for as long as you want, but if it happens again just ignore it ok? Maybe move rooms or something. Just, trust me on this ok? It isn’t safe.”
“What do you mean?” Jake looked around the kitchen and finally out the window, he felt like he was being watched, he had expected someone to be standing there, staring at him.
“Nothing. Nothing. It’s fine. Just ignore it and you’ll be fine, ok?”
Jake shivered, “Does it happen often?”
“No. I’d forgotten about it. Hasn’t happened in years. We just know not to look out. Also, look, I don’t want to freak you out, but it wouldn’t be any harm to be in before dark too. Make sure the doors and windows are locked. Just as a precaution ok?”
“You’re messing with me, right?”
“Just be careful, ok?”
Brad hung up. Jake put his phone onto the table, the house didn’t seem as warm or welcoming anymore. He looked out the window again, for a second, he thought he saw something moving through the trees. Jake shuddered, then stood, if he packed quickly he could be on the road in less than twenty minutes.