The Tyne family visit their cabin for a digital detox getaway. The cabin is a home away from home.
They soon discover the cabin is also home to another.
Tyne Cabin is July’s Flash Fiction that jumps into the world of bizarre. Experience the story in written word, audio, artwork and ambient sounds.
I sit patiently in the car, twiddling my thumbs, wondering when I will be able to get up and stretch my legs. I have already spent over two hours on the highway, watching trees, rocks, and the occasional animals go by. It’s cold at first, but after a while, you get tired of seeing the same thing. The fact that I get squirrelly easily doesn’t help either. Maybe that’s why my parents insist on those prescription pills and less time on the Internet—too much stimulation.
I sigh, watching the condensation from my exhale build up on the window, then slowly fade. At least it is something new to look at instead of the same old scenery of tree . . . tree . . . tree. Oh, look a rock! When are we going to stop?
“We’re almost there, gang!” Dad says from the front seat.
Mom looks back at me with a warm smile. “You’re going to love the lake,” she says. “It’s beautiful.”
“Yeah,” I reply with little enthusiasm. I tried, really. As far as I know, we could be driving for another hour, or worse, forever. The gloomy thought is shot dead wrong as Dad decelerates the car, turning off the main highway and onto a range road. The sudden change in the engine’s humming catches my attention, and I perk up, looking out the driver’s view. We’re in the trees now. Branches are everywhere. The road is bumpy. This is new.
“We’re here?” I ask.
“That’s right, champ,” Dad says. “In about a half hour, we’ll be at that lake. You’ll get to see where your old man spent his summers with your great-uncle.”
Mom sighs. “Chuck was a sweet man.”
“Yeah,” Dad says.
Mom gently touches Dad’s arm.
Oh, if you haven’t pieced it together, Uncle Chuck is dead. I never met him. Supposedly he went missing in the forest. They never found his body, but I heard chat amongst my aunts that he started getting into some non-Christian things, like magic. My family are pretty heavy believers, too. I’m not too sure myself. Either way, Uncle Chuck is gone.
Dad smiles. “He sure showed me how to enjoy life. Back then, we didn’t have all those handheld devices.”
“Like the one I couldn’t bring?” I ask.
“Trust me. You’ll thank me when we get there,” Dad says.
“I hear it is called a digital detox,” Mom says.
I sink back into my seat and try to zone out for the next half hour. What else can I do? The trees got boring again, and I am still annoyed that my folks didn’t let me bring my smartphone. I want to keep tabs on my girl, but I suppose a couple of days away doesn’t hurt. I’ll see Tania in school on Monday.
My thoughts wander over to Tania. Yeah. Thinking about her smell and her laugh are great. What’s better is all the sexy stuff, the kinds of details any teenage boy thinks. The brain-wandering takes up the remainder of the drive. At one point, I got a boner and sat cross-legged to hide it. I don’t need my parents to see that! Thankfully, it goes away just as we come to a stop. A crystal-clear lake and a beach are right in front of us. To the right is a white-painted wooden cabin. A firepit is to the side of the cabin, surrounded by a series of logs for sitting.
“We’re here?” I ask, unbuckling my seatbelt.
“We sure are,” Dad says. “That’s the Tyne family cabin, probably as old as Gramps himself.”
“Same cabin?” I ask.
“Yep. Amazing, isn’t it?” Dad says.
Dad puts the car into park, and we all hurry out of the vehicle. My parents are already gathering our luggage from the back trunk. I run to the lake, kicking up dirt and sand to reach the shores. I skid to a stop, taking a deep breath of that fresh air. I don’t have my phone, but I sure as hell am enjoying this view. It’s the kind of view Tania would like. Ugh.
“Jacob!” Mom calls.
I look back to see my parents are walking to the cabin. My dad is holding a set of keys.
“Coming!” I call out, rushing back to them.
“Here,” I say, reaching for one of the suitcases Mom is holding. She lets me take it, and all three of us walk up the front porch. Dad unlocks the door and pushes it open. The hinges creak, exposing the dark interior inside; this place is old. We step into the entryway, inhaling the stale smell of dust. I cough several times. Looking around, I see that the floor, the furniture, and even the walls are covered in white flakes.
“When was the last time this place was used?” I ask.
“It’s been a while,” Dad says. “Dust travels from the car exhaust on the highway. It’s pretty common.” He drops his luggage. The weight of the baggage creates a large cloud that envelops the scene.
I cough and lean towards the entrance, avoiding the white dust. “Dad, watch where you drop that! What’s with this dust, anyway?” I ask, noticing one large flake that gently landed on my forearm. “What is this?” I ask.
“It’s an old cabin,” Dad says. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it had some termites eating at the wood. Let’s enjoy it this summer and see if we can fix it up in the next.”
The three of us clean every surface of the cabin to make it livable. We remove the excessive dust and wood flakes, which takes all afternoon and even some of the evening. We spend our night cooking hotdogs over a campfire and enjoying the stars—you know, the typical cabin thing. My folks tell me about how the other Tyne family members used to come out here, but we haven’t talked to them in a while. Dad thinks we pissed them off or something. Who knows.
All three of us are exhausted and don’t do much for the remainder of the night. Mom keeps complaining about itchy eyes and a sore throat from the dust. Dad seems pretty beat too.
We conclude it is time to set up our sleeping bags. Mine is on the couch, and my folks bring theirs into the bedroom. The two of them hit the sack shortly after. I’m left awake, trying to fall asleep. All of the momentum from cleaning is keeping me up, not to mention the excessive dust that I’ve been inhaling keeps making me cough. I examine my arm, noticing the bone-white dust and flakes are causing my skin to dry out. Sawdust will do that, but this seems a bit much. Maybe I’m allergic? I’m always learning something new about my body. I wonder if there is a pill for that too.
I spend most of the night sitting on the front porch, watching the large mass of water. We don’t even have booze. My folks are too traditional even to consider letting me have some. I guess I can spend the weekend just staring at the lake, getting introspective or whatever. I feel like I’m too young for that garbage and should be with Tania. But it’s only two days. I stand up, deciding it’s time to try and get some sleep. The air is so much better out here than in the cabin that I think about sleeping outside. We’ll see. It is warmer inside.
A rustling noise comes from the shrubbery near the beach. I spin around to see some bushes bobbing up and down in the aftermath of the sound. I pause, scanning the scene.
A high-pitched snickering rises from the darkness.
“Yeah, good time for some sleep,” I say, realizing no one else is around to hear. The last thing I want is for some coyote to bite me. Do they even attack people? I’m no animal expert. With that, I hurry back inside the cabin, lock the door, and slip into the sleeping bag, ready for a good night’s sleep.
Scratching and scraping sounds are like a broken record, looping over and over. I am dreaming of being in the car. Is the vehicle scraping against something? A snickering noise, or maybe screeching, pierces my ears. I shift in my sleeping position. It’s one of those half-awake, half-sleeping states where you aren’t sure what is real and what is a dream. They’re cool sometimes. But times like this are frustrating. I’m groggy and exhausted. The sounds—real or fake—are keeping me half awake.
A gentle object lands on my nose. Then another, like leaves falling. The subtle touches answer the question—it’s no dream. A few grunts and another snicker finally seal the deal, and I open my eyes. Directly above me is a naked, crusty-skinned man, scratching his neck vigorously over my face. I scream and scurry backwards. My head bumps into the armrest instantly.
The man looks down as his one leg slides off the backrest of the couch. His eyes are too dark to see under his puffy eyelids. The nose extends way out, ending in a twist, so close it could have brushed against me. His elongated ears bob up and down as he continues to scratch his neck, cackling as he clutches my forearms. “Wakey-wakey, it’s Flaky!” he says with a rotting toothy grin.
“Mom! Dad!” I shout, kicking the man in the chest.
He squeals, letting me go to scratch his chest. “Ouch! Yeh took me flakes, ya little prick!” He scurries backward on the couch, leaping onto the hardwood floor, bringing his sagging wrinkly behind into view.
“Dad!” I shout, kicking the sleeping bag fully off.
The man scampers around the couch and to the kitchen. He continues to scratch and groans until he disappears around the corner. What the fuck? Seriously, what the fuck? I bet Dad wishes I brought my damn phone now to call the cops. Dad . . . Mom! I get to my feet, panting heavily, shouting their names. I rush to the half-shut bedroom door beside the open doorway to the kitchen.
My face itches, forcing me to scratch the skin thoroughly in an attempt to get rid of the flakes. What is this?
“Mom?” I ask, stepping into their bedroom, scratching my forearm. I stop, checking the kitchen to see if I can spot the freak. I can’t see him. A draft picks up from the kitchen—the window has to be open. Maybe he’s gone.
“Mom, Dad?” I ask while wiping my face. Dammit! It feels like a swarm of mosquitos just stung me. The itch is reaching unbearable levels. I should go to the hospital. First, get Mom and Dad. The room is too dark for me to see anything. I run to the curtains and pull them open, letting the moonlight highlight the sleeping bags on the bed. They’re empty. Only a large pile of flakes remains where my parents should have been.
“Mom!” I hurry to the bed and swat it a couple of times to check if they are under the sheets. My hand hit the sleeping bag and the mattress below, causing the flakes to fly into the air. I cough, accidentally inhaling some of the particles. Smart move. I spin around the room, looking in every corner to see if I can spot my parents. They are nowhere. I have a sinking feeling that I am alone.
“Dad!” I shout, rushing out of the bedroom, vigorously scratching my face. The skin peels back in thick layers with each dig of my nails. Blood seeps out with each scratch. This isn’t good—it’s just so itchy! My body temperature is increasing, too. It’s like a fever.
“What’d you do with them?” I shout, running into the kitchen.
I step onto the green-and-white-tiled floor, feeling my left leg collapse. My elbow hits the floor first, then my head, which thuds. I groan, feeling my body flare up in heat. I can’t get up. Neither of my legs are responding! My pant legs are thinning; flakes and dust are blowing out from where my limbs should be. I don’t feel them, either. It’s like they’re just gone. Okay, this has to be a dream.
“Help!” I cry. My arms feel frail; my whole body itches uncontrollably while the heat rises to a fiery burn. I should try crawling to save my skin, but I just keep scratching everywhere like some kind of flea-infested dog.
“Itchy and bitchy, aren’t we? HE! HE! HE!” a high-pitched voice says from the ceiling.
I stop scratching for half a second, just to look up and see that the naked freak had mounted himself in the far corner of the kitchen ceiling. His claws dig into the walls and his puffy eyes stare at me, as he uses one hand to scratch his crotch. Particles of his skin gently glide onto the kitchen tile. Some blow in the slight breeze from the open window, landing on me.
The man leaps down from his perch, thudding onto the floor. The motion causes my leg-flakes to fly into the air as he raises his arms, embracing the particles. He takes a deep inhale, relishing in his victory. The man catches one of my flying leg-flakes and smiles. “Welcome to the family!”
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