The Cabin (Short Story)

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    The leaves crunched beneath Husk’s paws as he skidded through the forest, chasing a mouse that was fast as a laser beam. The wind whipped by his ears as he honed his vision in on the little critter, its thin pink tail streamlining back to give it more speed. Its soft, smokey-grey fur stood out amongst the fire of leaves on the ground, and its ears, disproportionately large, sat flat against its head. Husk’s heart beat like a drum in his chest, slowly speeding up as he darted deftly over the tree roots and tree trunks that stood as hurdles in his way; his pace was almost breakneck. But no matter how wide he stretched his legs, no matter how hard he churned his muscles, the fuzzy prey in front of him was too fast.
    As he rounded the corner of a wide oak, rough and stocky with age, the mouse had scuttled out of sight. Husk abruptly halted, his emerald eyes perusing the scene. In front of him were several trees stretching up to the sky, each of their trunks painted a soft shade of brown. The forest floor was littered with fallen leaves, fiery from the autumn atmosphere, and corpuscular rays of light cast shadows of bare tree branches with feathers of leaves that still clung tight to their parents’ limbs. Beyond the small clearing in front of him, Husk could see only orange, crimson, and fulvous colors of fall, but no mouse.
    Whiffing in the scene, he focused in for aromas of earthy fur and warm rodent, but the scents he found carried no trace of them. Earthy tree trunks, mossy, damp soil from last night’s rain, nutty acorns that still hung tight to their branches, but no mouse.
    
Husk hung his head and shivered as the brisk, autumn breeze combed through his black fur. Now that his heart rate had settled down and the blood wasn’t pumping warmth throughout his body, he could clearly feel the chilly air, its gelid touch making the inside of his nose sting. The leaves that were still on the trees rustled like skeletal bones as the wind let out a quick, sharp howl that swiftly died away, leaving silence in its trail.
    
Woebegone, he turned, head and tail down, and began to walk away. But after several moments of walking, a sharp, woody scent struck him dead. Not earthy wood like the trees, but the sting of sharp, unnatural wood. Husk’s ears pricked up, his bones locking into place as he realized he recognized that aroma. His head shot up and his daunting green eyes locked on to what lay ten strides to his left: the cabin.
    A shiver crawled slowly from his skull to his tail tip, slithering like a snake down his spine. His fur stood on end, but he stayed frozen for several minutes before sitting down and facing the cabin. The feeling of perturbation gripped him, not allowing him to move as frightful images ran through his mind.
    
The possibilities of what monsters loomed behind that sinister door were endless. Anything could be hidden in the gelid depths of the cabin’s darkness, any bloodthirsty fiend or vicious beast. His imagination bounced wildly with terror, for the only thing that Husk feared was the cabin.
    It stood tauntingly in the now-night air, ghostly illuminated by the dark moon above, almost like an omen. The door of the cabin was queerly cracking off its hinges, and the wood splintered from the surface like jagged claws. Round logs stacked on top of each other made up the wall; moss now crawled up the bumpy side as the dark brown wood could barely be seen beneath it. One window rested on each side of the door, fogged over with dust. They were opaque now from years of dirt and nature blocking them out. The very aspect of the cabin it seemed to sing like a grave that meant only to consume Husk alive.
    The darkness of the cabin seemed to call to him, coaxing him to enter, but his trepidation kept him locked in place. Finally, Husk slowly, stiffly, stood up, eyes still glued to the cabin. But just as he was about to turn away, a new fire kindled inside of him, and he found himself slowly, tentatively, walking towards the cabin. I will not fear anything, he thought, the beat of his heart crescendoing inside his head. I will not fear—Husk froze as the wind began to howl, stirring up several leaves in an upward gyro. His bones fell cold, his spine crawled and whiskers seemed to blaze with gelid horror.
    
Taking a deep breath, he pushed the fear down, slowly placing one paw in front of the other. Beneath him, the leaves crackled slowly as he inched closer to the daunting door. Though it had no mouth, it seemed to be grinning sinisterly at him, hanging there from its hinges like someone dangling from a noose. Though it was not the door itself he feared, nor even the cabin, but what may lie inside the cabin, in the gloominess where sight was swallowed up by darkness.
    
Now, Husk was only a stride from the door. His blood was gelid and his legs began to shake as he inched closer and closer and closer. His heart pounded louder and louder and louder until all other sounds were drowned out. His breaths were short and quick, but he barely noticed.
    When he stood only a nose-length away from the dark and splintering wood of the door, he paused, eyes glazed with foreboding and legs shaking. He closed his eyes as the blood began to pound in his ears like a roaring waterfall. I will not fear anything, he thought again, then opened his eyes and nudged the edge of the door opposite of the hinged side. It gave a piercing creak and Husk stopped, reeling his head back as his heart jumped into his stomach and his muscles jerked with shaking stun. Then, realizing it was only the door, he took a deep breath and continued, stepping forward as he nudged it open further.
    His eyes were closed, his legs quivering beneath him, blood turned to ice, heartbeat fast and booming, spine chilled, limbs numb, muscles tense. He took a step through the door frame once it was open enough, squeezing his eyes tighter and tighter. After several moments of slow, cautious steps in, he was fully inside the door, shaking like a leaf rattled in a tornado. The air smelled mysterious and queer, gelid and sinister.
    I will not fear anything, Husk reminded himself, slowly beginning to open his eyes until he could clearly see everything. Immediately once he could, the warmth returned to his blood and his heartbeat slowed, becoming softer at once. His legs stopped shaking, his limbs regained life, the chill left his spine, his muscles relaxed, and a wave of serenity washed over him. He gave a soft chortle and let out a shaky, relieved sigh. The fear fled from him forthwith.
    
For the cabin was no cabin at all, but just the single front wall of a cabin; the rest of the forest, a cluster of warm and welcoming trees, was the only thing that lay behind the cabin’s door. The moon seemed to grin down on him, humored because it’d known all along. Then once again, the breeze howled, stirring up the leaves in a small upward gyro, but this time Husk grinned triumphantly as the breeze coolly brushed through his fur; finally, he was fear-free from the paralyzing terror of the “cabin.”

© 2017 - 2022 fallsplash
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saturdaystorytellers's avatar
I've now made this story into a storytelling video. Enjoy! youtu.be/-dr-hbyE5eI
saturdaystorytellers's avatar
Well! I have to say that I enjoyed that very much!

This is a short story of Husk, a dog with one fear: a strange and forbidding cabin in the middle of the woods. When he sees it on his most recent sortie into the autumnal woods, he is struck with the inspiration to face his fear. And for Husk, it is very much for the better that he does!

Artfully written, tense where it needs to be tense, exhilarating where it needs to be, and relaxed when needed too.

I also learned a new word today: gelid.
fallsplash's avatar
Thank you! Thank you for hosting! I truly appreciate all your kind words, I'm glad you enjoyed it! God's been very gracious to me! Have a wonderful autumn season!! =^.^=
saturdaystorytellers's avatar
And you too! Thanks for taking the time to read this - I'll say again that I loved it, and have added it to my Featured folder to boot.
fallsplash's avatar
Thanks! <3 =^.^=