Authors: Patricia Fry
“A bear?” Ernie said, turning and rushing toward his own car.
Savannah lowered her window and called after him, “Hey, who’s going to pull that thing out?”
Without another word, the Good Samaritan jumped into his car, turned it around, and headed back up the mountain road.
“Oh no,” Savannah said, sighing deeply. After raising her window to close it, she rested her head on the steering wheel. Then, lifting her head, she flipped her hair behind her ears, stared at her aunt through green eyes, and said, “Well, we’ve got to get that thing out from under the car, unless you want to spend the night here.” When no one spoke, she said, “Okay Auntie, you back the car down the hill a tad and I’ll pull the log out.” Before she could get out of the car, however, something caught her eye. “Well, that’s strange.”
“What?” Margaret asked, glancing around.
“Ernie stopped his car up the road there. I wonder what he’s doing.” More quietly, she asked, “Do you suppose he ran into that bear?”
Margaret blew a puff of air through her lips as if trying to drum up a heap of courage. Finally she said, “Okay, get out of the car and I’ll scoot over.” When Savannah hesitated, Margaret said, “Well, go on. We don’t want to spend all night here.” She spoke more quietly. “Just be careful, Vannie, will you?”
Once Savannah was outside the car, she pulled her heavy jacket around herself. “Go,” she hissed. “Move it back just a little and let’s see what happens.” But before Margaret could put the car in reverse, Savannah let out a yelp, grabbed the back door handle and hollered, “Open up! Let me in!” She heard the lock disengage, quickly pulled the door open, and shrieked, “Scootch over, Colbi!”
Stunned, Colbi grabbed Dolly off the seat and threw herself toward iris, while Savannah leaped into the car.
“What are you doing?” Colbi asked from the floorboards, as Iris and Margaret laughed almost hysterically.
In the meantime, the tabby had squeezed from Colbi’s grip and jumped into the back of the SUV and, before Savannah could get into the car far enough to close the door, Rags made a dive for it and disappeared into the night.
“Oh no,” Savannah said after slamming the door shut, “did he just escape?”
“Who?” Margaret asked.
“Rags. I think he slipped past me.” Her voice pinched, she said, “He’s outside with…”
“With what?” Iris asked, her expertly mascaraed eyes like saucers.
“With…whatever that is out there.” She glanced through the windows, shouting, “Lock the doors!”
“What did you see?” Iris insisted. “Did you see something?”
Savannah thought for a moment. “I heard it.” She grimaced. “Oh, there’s something out there, all right, and I don’t know if it’s human or animal or…”
“Or what?” Colbi asked, her tone nearly hysterical. “What did you hear?”
“Rags,” Savannah said, lowering her head. “What am I going to do? How am I going to get him back in the car?”
“Oh my God!” Margaret hissed. “Look. What
Once the others had focused on what Margaret was pointing at, Colbi gasped.
Iris grabbed Colbi’s arm and scrunched down in her seat, saying, “Oh, my gosh! Oh, my gosh!”
Savannah sat frozen in place. “Unbelievable,” she muttered. She then stiffened and whispered, “Hey, do you hear that? Something’s scratching on the car.”
“Well, it’s not the…monster, ’cause he’s out there,” Colbi said, pointing. She grabbed Savannah’s arm. “…unless there are more than one of them.”
“Rags,” Savannah said. “Could it be Rags wanting back in?” She unlocked the door and ever so slowly opened it as the other women held their breath.
Suddenly, Iris and Colbi let out a shriek.
“It’s Rags!” Savannah said when she saw a hunk of grey-and-white fur fly through the door, up and over the backseat, and disappear among the luggage.
“Stop screaming,” Margaret shushed
“Wait. He’s running away,” Savannah said. “Yes, let’s scream. I think that scared him. Scream, ladies, scream!”
Within thirty seconds or so, Margaret peered into the backseat. “Okay, enough screaming.” She let out a sigh. “It looks like he’s gone. Let’s get the heck out of here.”
“Okay, Auntie, see if you can back up. Only don’t turn the wheels or we could go over the side.”
“There!” Savannah shouted. “It sounded like it broke. It feels like we’re off of it. Let me get out and pull the rest of it from under there.”
“Or we could just run over it,” Margaret said, stepping hard on the accelerator, causing the wheels to spin.
“Don’t!” The women shouted.
“Let me take over, Auntie,” Savannah said. “Get out of my way.”
However, as Margaret started to move to the passenger seat, the car rolled back a little.
“Brake, Maggie!” Iris shouted. “What the hell are you thinking? Set the brake!”
“Well, you got me all rattled,” Margaret said, in her defense. In a calmer tone, she reported, “Okay, brake’s set. Here, you take over, oh revered pilot. I’m so outta here.”
“Take it easy,” Colbi instructed when Savannah slid into the driver’s seat.
“I will,” Savannah snapped, as she eased the car over the hump and back onto the road. “Whew! I think we’re home free.”
She’d driven about a half mile when she slowed the car. “Look,” she said, “Ernie’s still parked there. Auntie, roll your window down and ask if he needs help or something. Gads, I sure hope not.”
“No, just drive on by,” Margaret insisted, scrunching down in her seat.
“We can’t do that,” Savannah said, pulling alongside the parked car. “Now put your window down.” She glanced into the backseat. “Hold onto the cats.”
“Uh, hello Ernie,” Margaret said when she saw him standing outside his car. “Is there a problem? Do you need help?”
“Um…no. I’m fine. You ladies go on. Everything’s okay.”
Margaret quickly raised her window, sat back in her seat, and said, “He’s fine, Vannie. Let’s get out of here.”
However, Savannah continued staring in Ernie’s direction. “Well, that’s odd.”
“Drive, Vannie,” Margaret ordered.
“But what’s he doing?” Savannah asked.
“Taking a whizz, most likely,” Iris said, impatiently. “Let’s go.”
Savannah glanced back at Iris. “Oh, I hadn’t thought of that. How embarrassing,” she said as she continued to drive up the mountain road. After a few miles of silence, Savannah asked, “Got wine? I sure could use a glass of wine.”
There was a round of reserved chuckles.
“Not while you’re driving on this road,” Iris reminded her.
“How much farther?” Margaret asked.
“How far?” Colbi insisted.
“I don’t know,” Iris said sounding frustrated. “I’ve only been up here a handful of times and I’ve never driven. It seemed like a long way.”
“But we’ve already gone a long way,” Margaret carped.
After another several minutes of silence, Colbi asked quietly, “What was it back there? It didn’t look like a bear to me.”
“No,” Margaret said, turning toward her. She pushed one side of her short dark hair behind one ear. “It was more like a part human, part some sort of animal.”
“Do they have a Sasquatch around here?” Iris asked, her eyes glistening under a frame of soft red curls.
“You should know. Has Craig mentioned anything like this before?” When Iris shook her head, Margaret suggested, “Call him. Ask him if knows what’s running around up here in the mountains.”
“Yeah, I mean look how remote it is. We haven’t seen a house or even a car, except for Ernie’s,” Colbi said. “Yeah, Iris,” she instructed, “call Craig and find out what he knows.”
“I can’t,” Iris said.
“What do you mean, you ‘can’t’?” Savannah asked. “Did you forget your phone? You can use mine.”
“No, I mean there’s no service.” She then shouted, “Look out!”
“What?” Savannah said, slamming on the brakes and focusing on the road in front of her. “Oh, a deer. Wow. Talk about a deer in the headlights. So that’s what they mean by the term.”
“Yeah, now we know what a deer in headlights looks like,” Margaret said. “Did you see him stop and stare? Why do they do that? You almost hit him.”
“Yeah, you stopped so fast both cats landed on the floor,” Colbi said. “Come on, Dolly,” she cooed. “Are you two okay?” she murmured, petting them both.
“Sorry guys,” Savannah said. “Didn’t want to hit Bambi.”
Iris sat up in her seat and announced, “I think we’re almost there.”
“Yeah, it’s been four-and-a-half hours,” Margaret complained. Then she added, “Well, we were stopped for almost an hour, weren’t we?”
“No,” Savannah said. “More like thirty or forty minutes.”
“I’ll sure be glad to get in the cabin where it’s warm and safe and secure and cozy,” Colbi said.
“I guess we won’t be warm until we light a fire—right, birthday girl?” Savannah asked. “There’s wood for the fireplace, isn’t there?”
“I think so,” Iris said. “If not, we can collect some.”
Margaret spun around and looked back at Iris. “In the dark, at night, in the forest with creepy monsters running loose? Are you out of your mind?”
Everyone laughed, but it was strained.
“If there’s no wood, I’m burning your furniture,” Margaret threatened.
“Here!” Iris shouted. “Turn right here. That’s the road to the cabin. Now drive slowly. We don’t want to miss it.”
Savannah smirked. “What do you think I’ve been doing? We haven’t hit twenty since we got on this mountain road.”
“Don’t snark at me,” Iris said. “I told you it was remote. It’s not my fault if you didn’t believe me.”
“I’m so tired, I could sleep in a tree,” Colbi said, yawning.
Margaret snickered. “You just might have to if Iris can’t remember where the cabin is.”
“I remember,” she insisted. “It’s right around the next bend.”
“That’s what you said four bends ago,” Margaret moaned.
Suddenly, Iris pointed. “There! That’s the driveway…I think. Savannah, turn in right there.”
“Yowza,” Margaret said. “This car’s too big for that lane, don’t you think?”
“Yeah, looks like the trees have grown out into the driveway since I was here last. Oh Savannah, I don’t want you to get your car all scratched up. How about if we get out and break those branches off for you.”
“Are you sure this is right?” Savannah asked her.
Iris looked out through the window and glanced around the area. “Maybe not, actually. Let’s get back on the main road.”
“You call that a main road?” Margaret asked, chuckling. “It’s more like a cow path…or a goat path…or a chicken path, maybe.”
Once Savannah had returned to the original road, they drove a few more miles when Iris said, “Oh, there it is. I see the chimney through the trees. It’s the only cabin in this area, so I know we’re at the right place. Turn in here, Savannah. Oh good, the driveway’s clear.”
“Still awfully narrow,” Margaret noticed.
“Okay,” Savannah said when she parked the car, “I’ll leave the headlights on so we can see to get in.” She turned toward the backseat. “Colbi, will you put Rags’s harness on him? We don’t need any more escapes tonight.”
“Now, where’s the key?” Iris asked, searching in her purse. “Can you turn the overhead light on, Savannah?” After a few seconds, she announced, “Here it is.”
Margaret let out a sigh. “Good, I have to use the facility. Let’s get inside.”
“Wait until I put Rags’s harness on him and get a hold of Dolly,” Colbi insisted.
“Oh, you guys and your cats. Why you couldn’t leave them at home, I’ll never know. Lily’s easier to take than Rags is,” Margaret muttered. She looked into the backseat. “Can we go now before I pee my pants?”
“Yes,” Colbi said. “Savannah, here’s his leash.” She shivered. “Let’s go start a fire.”
“Bring the flashlight,” Iris called as she stepped out of the car with the key in her hand. “Hold it on the keyhole for me, would you, Maggie?”
“Now, where’s the light switch?” Margaret asked, once the door was open. She patted the wall just inside the doorway.
Iris chuckled. “We’ll have to use lanterns until I turn on the generator. Shine the light around so we can find the lanterns. Who has the matches?”
“You said there were matches here,” Savannah reminded her. “Where do you keep them?”
Iris sighed. “I don’t know. Just start looking around. Maybe by the fireplace.” Once a couple of lanterns were lit and their belongings had been carried in, Iris headed for the front door, calling, “Okay, Maggie, let’s go start the generator.”
“Outside? In the dark?”
“You have a flashlight. Come on,” she commanded.
“Let there be light,” Margaret said when the two women stepped back into the cabin and Iris flipped on a switch.
The others cheered halfheartedly.
In the meantime, Savannah said, “Colbi, what I want to know is what happened to
“Huh?” she asked, standing next to the fireplace with a blanket wrapped around her. She looked up at Savannah. “What are you talking about?”
“A while ago, you said, ‘
go start a fire.’ So far, it’s been just me.” She grimaced. “And my fire keeps going out, darn it. The wood’s too wet and I don’t have the right kindling. Auntie,” she called, “find me a piece of furniture to burn.”
“No,” Iris shrieked from the kitchen. “Wait, will paper help?”
“Immensely,” Savannah said. “Do we have paper?”
“Yes, I think Craig keeps a stack of newspapers downstairs.” Her eyes lit up. “Maybe even some wood. I forgot about that.” She turned to face the others. “We have a cellar, you know.”
“No, I didn’t know,” Savannah said. “How would we know unless you told us? Where is it? Let’s go see if we can find something to build a fire with.”
“You don’t have to sound so crabby,” Colbi grumbled.
“I’m tired…and cold,” Savannah said, pulling her jacket around herself. “…and hungry.” She grabbed the blanket Colbi was clinging to and pulled her along. “Come on, let’s see what we can find.”
Balking, Colbi asked, “Are there spiders down there?”
“Probably,” Savannah confirmed. “Now come on.” A few seconds later, she called out, “Hey Iris, where’s the light switch?”
“Hell if I know,” Iris said. “I’ve never been down there. I’ve just seen Craig and the boys bring newspapers and firewood up from down there.” She appeared at the basement doorway with a flashlight. “Here, use this.”