'The Cabin' (working title) sneak peek

'The Cabin' (working title) sneak peek

A Story by Sarah J Dhue

A sneak peek from my 2019 NaNoWriMo project.


            Shane had woken up early, unable to stay asleep, images of what could have been making the sound he’d heard haunting his dreams and causing him to keep waking up.  He had finally pulled on some clothes and gone downstairs to wait for the ranger - if one ever came.  He had not bothered to comb his hair, and the quick glance he had taken in the mirror revealed his eyes to be ringed with dark, purple bags.

            He had found Eggo’s in the freezer and popped a couple into the toaster.  After picking at them, he had sat on the couch and fiddled nervously with the tassels on the throw blanket draped over the back.  He practically flew off the couch when he heard a car making its way along the driveway and opened the front door to see one of the ranger vehicles pulling up next to the cabin.

            Ranger Damon climbed out, unwrapping a piece of gum and placing it in his mouth.  “You called about a disturbance?” he said, nodding to Shane and squinting against the sun.  He promptly put on his hat to help shade him.

            “Yeah.  Good thing it wasn’t a real emergency,” Shane huffed, following Ranger Damon as he walked around to the back of the house and looking out over the lake.

            “Sorry: ranger station closes at eleven and opens at seven.”  Shane jumped as the foot of the hill that led up to the fire ring and picnic table came into view.  A turkey vulture was sitting on the ground, picking at a mangled deer carcass.  Ranger Damon couldn’t help but chuckle as Shane realized it was not some kind of monster.  “So, what exactly do you think you heard last night?”

            “I don’t know,” Shane said, disgusted but unable to take his eyes off of the vulture ripping the strips of meat from the bones of the carcass.  “It sounded like some kind animal or, I don’t know.  It was yowling and it…  It didn’t sound like anything I’ve ever heard before.”

            Ranger Damon nodded, chewing his gum and surveying the immediate area.  “But you didn’t see anything?”

            “No; I didn’t even look I was so spooked.”

            Ranger Damon nodded again, “Well, you are out in the middle of nowhere, and sound carries at night.  It can get distorted over distance.  You probably heard a coyote or an owl or one of the vultures or maybe even a fox.”

            Shane shook his head, “No, this was not like anything I’ve ever heard before.”  Ranger Damon inhaled sharply, wanting to watch his words.  “Look, I know I’m a city boy and all that, but I know that what I heard was not normal.  It was wrong, it just-”

            “Hey, Shane!” Kelsey emerged from the trees, waving to him; he suddenly wished that he had bothered to comb his hair.  “Oh, hi Damon.  I didn’t expect to see you here.”  Kelsey grinned at him charmingly, and Shane suddenly felt uncomfortable.  “Yucko,” she exclaimed, sticking out her tongue as she passed near enough to the deer carcass for the vulture to pause and look up at her, bracing to fly away if it felt the need to retreat.  She kept walking and it resumed its eating.

            “Hi, Kelsey,” Ranger Damon smiled shyly, looking at the ground and kicking at the dirt.  “Didn’t expect to see you here either.”

            “Well, you know me,” Kelsey sidled up between the two guys.  “I’m always right in the middle of things.”  Ranger Damon blushed bright red and Shane couldn’t help but feel like a third wheel.  He’d thought Kelsey seemed to have a thing for him, but the tension and chemistry between the two of them made him feel like maybe he had misinterpreted.  “So, how’s the ranger station treating you?”

            “Oh, it is, uh, good,” Ranger Damon looked up at her and grinned again, blushing even redder, which Shane had not thought possible until he’d witnessed it with his own two eyes.

            “So, I take it Elton is keeping you busy running around and doing all the s**t he doesn’t want to?” Kelsey smirked, raising an eyebrow.

            “Elton isn’t so bad, really,” Ranger Damon scratched the back of his head.  “But I probably should get back to the station.”

            “Oh, come on; how much do you really think he’s missing you?” Kelsey pouted, pushing out her lower lip, and gave him her best puppy dog eyes.

            Ranger Damon’s voice caught in his throat, and he shifted his gaze to the turkey vulture.  “I-” he turned his attention to Shane.  “I could remove that carcass for you.  I have a feeling that Mrs. Lucas would rather not wake up to that.”

            “Yeah, that sounds like a good idea,” Shane replied, his voice strained as he tried to hide how uncomfortable, and frankly, jealous that he was.

            “If you ever need anything, Damon is always ready to serve,” Kelsey almost sang and Ranger Damon walked over to the vulture and shooed it away.  He went back to the truck and came back wearing a pair of work gloves, grabbing the carcass by its legs and lugging it to the vehicle and throwing it into the bed, quickly discarding the gloves with it.

            “Well, that’s done.  If you don’t need anything else, I’m going to head back.”  Shane looked dejectedly at the ground and Ranger Damon patted his shoulder.  “Don’t worry about any weird noises; it’s probably nothing and really far off anyway.”  He shifted his attention to Kelsey.

            “Bye, Damon.  Don’t be a stranger.”

            “It was good to see you, Kelsey,” Ranger Damon tipped his hat to her before climbing into the truck and throwing it in the passenger seat.  He fired up the engine, and Shane and Kelsey watched until he was out of sight.

            Kelsey turned to Shane, “Anyway…  You called Damon about the noises?  I thought we agreed that it was just the vultures?”

            Shane continued to stare down the drive, not wanting to look at Kelsey because he felt spurned and kind of foolish.  “It wasn’t the vultures,” he said coldly.  “I watched them come in to roost the other night…  And after hearing them and whatever it is again, there is no way that what I heard is the vultures.”

            “City boy is getting versed in the sounds of nature.  I dig it.”  Shane exhaled out his nostrils and managed a momentary half smile.  Kelsey’s tone changed, “Hey, what’s up?  You’re acting all weird.  Does a weird noise really have you that spooked?”

            “It’s nothing,” Shane shrugged and turned to look at her.  “But I am a little on edge…  I barely slept at all last night.”

            “Aw, poor Shane,” Kelsey said; Shane could not tell if was real or mock sympathy.  “Okay - if you don’t think that it is the vultures, then what do you think it is?”

            “I do not know…”


To be continued…

© 2019 Sarah J Dhue

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Added on November 21, 2019
Last Updated on November 21, 2019
Tags: Sarah J Dhue, Dhue, horror, mystery, vulture, lake, cabin, 2019, NaNoWriMo, NaNo, National Novel Writing Month


Sarah J Dhue
Sarah J Dhue

In the author's lair, IL

I am Sarah J Dhue. I am an author, as well as a photographer & graphic designer, currently going to school for web design. I've been writing since I was in elementary school. I live in Illinois. My f.. more..