Friday, October 30, 2015

Guest Blogger Dustin Fife and The Cabin on Vantage Road

Good Halloween Eve to you, my friends! I hope you have been enjoying the ghost stories this week. 

I have another treat in store for you: a strange, spooky tale by author and blogger Dustin Fife. We thought it would be fun to do a post swap for Halloween! Dustin's blog is a fantastic read, with stories that touch the heart and spirit of all of us traveling this earth. He's funny, thought-provoking, caring and a fine wordsmith. I hope you will zip over and check out his writings. (There's a link to his site in my sidebar too.) Dustin's story about a weird cabin adventure is sure to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Read on!


The Cabin on Vantage Road

Are you a believer in the supernatural?


I’m not.
Or am I? Every time this here skeptic (me) wants to roll my eyes at someone’s story of ghosts or ghouls or aliens or vampires, I remember that day…
I was seventeen-years-old. My dad pulled a boat behind a suburban, two hours across the Cascade Mountains to Vantage Washington. It was a common camping spot for us; a nearby convenience store carried pop rocks and baseball cards. There was a playground standing atop wood chips, complete with rusted monkey bars and love notes sprawled on the back of the slide. There was also a swimming pool with a deep end (10 feet) and a bathroom that smelled like an expired outhouse.
It was a kid’s dream. (Not the outhouse part…but the rest of it).
Perched on a hill, surrounded by desert shrubs and deciduous trees, stood a cabin. We’d never stayed in that cabin before (as far as I can recall), but it seemed we were moving up in the world. Gone were the days of wind sweeping our tents into the highway while we skied in the lake. No, we were high rollers that vacation.
Dad pulled the boat next to the building and with the efficiency of a nomadic army, we unpacked our bags and entered the cabin. The door creaked as it swung on rusted hinges.
“I’ve got top bunk,” I said and leaped inside, throwing my bag atop the bunk bed. Nick, my little brother’s friend grumbled and dropped his gear on the bottom bunk. The entire structure was made of wood that had long faded to gray with cracks haphazardly closed with wood putty, rusted screws, and/or duct tape. No air conditioning, no electricity. Just the creaky door that swung ominously in the wind.
Eeeeek. Eeeeeek. 

Something felt off about the place. It was that feeling you get when you know you forgot to do something, like you left the oven on. You know in the back of your mind that something terrible could happen, but it’s distant enough that you can forget it. But all the while, you know that if you ignore it, the inevitable only draws closer and closer and closer, until…

Boom.

What was the feeling?
I shook my head. No matter. Yet the rumble of my stomach remained.
The sunlight faded and we stood next to a crackling fire. The scent of burning wood followed me like a midnight shadow. Cough cough, sputter, gag. It chased me, haunted me.

If I only knew the real haunting wouldn’t come until later.

I stood to go to bed. Austin, my little brother stood with me and held out a fist. “Rock, paper, scissors?”
I scoffed. “Too late, dude. You’re sleeping in the Burb.” (Slang for “suburban”).
He glared. “Fine.”
I climbed up to the bed and closed my eyes, waiting for sleep to caress me into unconsciousness. But she was a stubborn caretaker, that one. I shifted and turned, fighting to find a comfortable position. My dad, Nick, and my sister’s snores filled the silence. Sleep came to them. Why not me?
Nothing.
So I shifted some more. Still, nothing.
I resigned myself to laying on my side, staring between the rails of the bunk bed. The wind howled and whistled, tossing the sheer curtains of the window. Moonlight shone through, hypnotic.
Something was off. What was it?
Silence. That’s what it was. Except for the snores of those inside the cabin, there was nothing. No crickets, no hum of distant cars…
Nothing.
My breaths came faster. My mouth went dry. The cool breeze seemed to turn to ice.
And that feeling returned–nagging in the back of my mind with haunted whispers.
Okay. I was going crazy. I closed my eyes, promising myself I wouldn’t open them until morning.
Silence.
I felt something–some primal sense that someone watched me. But that was silly. Everyone was asleep.
Don’t open your eyes.

I shut them tighter. That feeling of being watched returned, like a wolf breathing into my face. I had to look–had to prove to myself that it was nothing, that I was only imagining things.
Nothing was there, dude. Open your eyes, see it’s nothing and chill out.
Fine. That’s what I’d do.
With one final breath, I pried my eyes open and stared at the gauzy windows.
My body went ice cold. I trembled, struggling to let out the scream that bubbled in my throat, begging to be released, fighting the tightness that would consume me if I didn’t just let. it. out!
I screamed.
Standing there, with the fabric of the curtains passing right through her bodywas a little girl, no more than eight years old. She stared at me with vacant eyes–dead eyes.

My dad jumped from his bed. “Wh–wha—what? What happn? Whas gone on?”
“I-I-I-I,” I pointed to the window.
He turned to look.
And she was gone.
“I-I-I.”
My dad barked something unintelligible and lay back down.
And I was alone. So pitifully, miserably, terrifyingly alone. I couldn’t be there anymore. i had to get out of there. I jumped from my bed and went to the Burb. The door light flashed on and Austin shielded his eyes. “What the heck, dude?”
“G-g-ghost.”
He grumbled and turned over. I crawled in the front seat, intent on sleeping in there.
“Dude,” he said. “What’r you doing?”
“Sleeping in here.”
“Fine.” He gathered his blanket.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Sleeping in the cabin.”
“No!” He couldn’t do that. If he did, I’d be alone. And probably die a horrible terrifying death.
“Then you sleep in the cabin. Just leave me alone!”

I sat there, paralyzed by indecision. Do I sleep next to the ghost? Or alone?
Alone it was.
Austin stormed off in a huff and I remained alone.
Alone. Alone.
The rest of the evening passed uneventfully, except for, perhaps, a trickle or two of urine down my legs.
The following morning, I endured the jests of Nick and Austin who were convinced I was pulling their leg. (Really? Me pull a prank? Never!) We spent the remained of the day on the Columbia River, knee-boarding, water-skiing, and wake-boarding.
I tried to have fun. But all I could think about was what waited for me in that cabin. The dread of the night to come followed me. I tried to push it to the back of my mind, where the memory of it remained as nothing more than a pit in my stomach.

For dinner, we ate in a local diner walking distance from the cabin. It was a 50s-style diner, with red booths lining the walls and swivel chairs right at the counter. We sat at the swiveled chairs and ordered our food. I chewed on my french fries, thinking of that girl.
We were served by a brother and sister, about my age.
“Hey,” Austin asked them, “what’s with the haunted cabin?”
I punched him.
“You see the girl?” the guy asked.
My eyes widened, but I tried to hide my surprise. “What girl?”
“The ghost girl. About 8-years-old? Blonde hair? Holds a cat over her forarm?”
I hadn’t seen a cat, but everything else was spot-on.
Should I feel better about this? Should I feel somehow validated that the locals had heard rumors of a haunted cabin? That I wasn’t crazy.
Maybe. But instead, it turned my stomach in knots. Up until that point, I could believe it was a trick of the light or that I had stayed up too late the night before or that the roasted chicken had done funny things to my visual cortex.
Not anymore. I was in a silent panic.
“Sleep well,” the female local said as we left the restaurant.
As we walked back, my stomach twisted tighter and my fingers trembled.
“Austin,” I said. “You. Me. Burb. Tonight.”
He scoffed. “If you’re in the burb, I’m in the cabin.”
But I couldn’t be in the burb. I couldn’t spend another night alone.
“Please?” I said. And, truth be told, I sounded really pathetic. My voice must have trembled and, if I had any less self-control, I probably would have cried. A desperate plea from brother to brother. Surely, the bond of brotherhood couldn’t be broken with such a desperate plea.

“Nope,” he said. “Suck it up, big boy.”
But I wouldn’t sleep alone. Instead, I told Nick he was sleeping in the top bunk. I’d remain in the bottom bunk where I couldn’t even see the window. I’d turn my back to the ghost, lock my eyes shut and keep them closed no. matter. what!

That was the plan, at least. Funny how plans never work out.
I remained, back turned to the window, trembling. Don’t open your eyes. Don’t open your eyes. Dad’s breaths turned to snores.Then Nick’s. Then my sisters.

I was alone.
My body begged to move, shouting for a change in positions. Don’t move. Don’t open your eyes. Just fall asleep! The agony of remaining in that one position intensified like I was sitting on a bed of coals.

Move move move! Open your eyes. Open your eyes. Open your eyes!

A guttural sound echoed outside the cabin’s door, like the moan of a zombie.Roooooomphf, Rooompht, Roooooooooooooooooomphtuf. A light flicked on. I yelped.
“Nick!” I shouted. “Stop messing around. Stop it Nick!”
“Dustin’s got type II schizophrenia,” he said. “He not only sees things, he makes sure others see them too.”
“Tell me your kidding!” My voice trembled, coming out as a choked cry.
“I don’t even have the flashlight!” he shouted.
I looked beside my bed. Right within arm’s reach was the source of the light–my dad’s coleman’s flashlight.
It was on. I was the only one within reach. I was the only one who could have turned it one. 

But I didn’t turn it on.

I reached forward and felt as if my hand were reaching through a pit of snakes. I grabbed the flashlight and flicked it on, then off. On, then off. And considerable force was required to turn it on, mind you. These things just didn’t turn on accidentally.

“I’m outta here,” I said. I went outside to the burb and crawled inside. Austin pitched another fit, but I threatened to pound him if he left. “Stay here and protect me, dag-nabit!”
One good thing did come as a result of that second night–my family believed me. Once I convinced them I wasn’t holding the flashlight, and once they realized I had no way of making that weird ominous sound, they acquiesced to my non-craziness.
The only person that remains a skeptic is myself, I suppose. In the years since, I’ve watched Host-Hunters International, Fact-or-Faked, and a host of other TV shows. It’s amusing really. As I sit on my couch with a bowl of cereal, I watch these people with their Ouija boards, infrared meters, and EVPs. I laugh and I mock.
And yet…it’s not until the show concludes that I realize my uneaten cereal remains in its bowl, soggy and warm. I look at the clock to find two full hours have passed and I hardly breathed.
I’m a skeptic. It’s all bunk. It’s all hokum.
Or maybe there really is something out there.

Dustin Fife: writer of science fiction and inspirational stories about everyday peopleHi! I’m Dustin. I am a novelist, podcaster, YouTuber, and blogger. I write science fiction, as well as stories about everyday humans with everyday struggles. (Think Humans of NY meets Chicken Soup for the Soul.) I’d love you to visit my website and read some fantastic stories, or subscribe to my weekly podcast. I'm looking forward to connecting!

10 comments:

Fife Photography said...

Nicely written Dustin. I was going to just skim quickly, but you actually got me hooked. im not a fan of ghost storiesm but I actually enjoyed it. :) amber

Dustin Fife said...

Thanks for letting me guest blog. It's been fun and I know your blog is the perfect avenue for something so spooky :)

Anonymous said...

What a spooky story! Nicely written too. :) - Sylvia

Dustin said...

Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it :)

Dustin said...

Thanks, Sylvia. It was fun to write! (Although not fun to experience… Creepy!)

Ydan Stark said...

Nice. I liked how he didn't seem to notice his cereal getting soggy. Clever way to show how much time had passed.

Rebecca N. McKinnon said...

Suspenseful tale, Dustin. Even if "ghosts" persay aren't real, I still believe very old places have spirits. Maybe not in "ghost" form, but there's a kind of energy you can feel in certain places. Just my opinion!

Cassiopeia Lancaster said...

I held my breath reading this.
I love ghost stories.
People are familiar of clairvoyant, but I'm a clairsentient.
I feel them instead.
That's better than seeing them.
You can always pretend nobody's there and close your eyes, unless they grab your leg or something.

Elise said...

Ooh creepy! Good story Dustin.

Jed Jurchenko said...

A very engaging story Dustin. I'm still skeptical myself, and reading a story from another skeptic is exactly what pulled me in :)

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