Old Cabin Still – Part 2
Erica glanced at the bottle in her hand and remembered there was something inside. She would keep it to herself for now.
The morning events stayed on schedule. The day always began with raising the camp flag. Breakfast followed for the kids. There would be forty-five minutes for cabin inspections. This was more like stalling to get the activities arranged. Also, the kids were quite the litterbugs and keeping the grounds clean was a priority. Once the last piece of trash was properly disposed, the day’s activities could begin.
Erica was the lead counselor for all water activities. She was a high school senior and a member of the diving team. She placed second in the state championship and made first all-team. Today’s activity would be the water zip line. The zip line was a little shy of one hundred feet in length. Camp kids would climb wooden stairs to get to a nine foot high deck where Erica awaited them. This was nothing in comparison to the Dragon’s Breath zip line in Labadee, Haiti. She had bested that monster during spring break. It is the longest zip line over water. Adventurists reach speeds up to sixty miles per hour. However, this zip line brought a much different thrill. Putting smiles on kids’ faces was the task. Some kids were nervous. Others could not wait to cut the waiting line and go again. While putting the life vest on one of the kids, Erica noticed something across the lake. It appeared to be a rooftop. She knew of no structures over there. The storm must have felled a tree and exposed it.
Meanwhile, Justin and Brad were the swimming pool lifeguards. Various races were conducted at the pool. Primarily, they were relay races. Inner tubes, body boards, and water noodles were included to enhance the element of fun. Winners would get to race the lifeguards which would end in an all-out water fight.
Justin and Brad played baseball in high school. Brad was one of the team stars and played left field. Justin was the workhorse catcher. He caught every game during his junior and senior year. He struggled with the bat, though. The two reminisced about all of Brad’s long throws to home plate.
“Remember when I threw three guys out at home in one game?’ said Brad.
“I sure do. I tagged them,” Justin jests, “Mr. William Hoy!”
The water races paused for an intermission.
“Justin, is that foot feeling ok?” Brad said.
“Yeah, it’s good. In fact, a little too good,” Justin said.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean I never really felt my foot tangled. It was as if some force was holding me there. More like I was running in a dream but not getting anywhere.”
“Just keep that thought to yourself. Everyone will think you are crazy.”
“Agreed,” Justin said.
On the south side of the lake, Paul was busy trailblazing with the young adventurers. He was intelligent and enjoyed the sciences. He knew most of the local plant and animal species. It was a natural fit for him to be the camp nature guide. He did not participate in sports. Instead, his goals were self-oriented. Planning a ten mile bike trip to a friend’s house was more his style. When he was younger, he went hiking in the White Mountains of Vermont with his family. They hiked from Lonesome Lake Hut up to the summit of Cannon Mountain. The smell of the freshly baked bread at the hut made his mouth water when he thought of it. The pristine water of that lake and its smooth, glass-like reflection burned in his eyes. The sight of the Franconia Ridge in the background was what beckoned him to explore.
The hiking event was more of a scenic walk. An hour each way made it one of the longer activities. That was plenty for the kids. He would do two tours in a day but only once a week. The path led them up a gentle, high ridge that overlooked the lake from a distance. The view of the lake was frequently blocked by trees. He would teach the kids both the common and scientific names of the trees.
As they wandered to collect leaves, something caught Paul’s eye. A reflection of some sort. He thought his eyes were playing tricks on him. He focused on the end of the lake. Again, a shimmer of light. It was not far from where they had gone ashore and discovered the bottle. Perhaps, a few hundred feet into the woods. Paul quickly forgot about it as the group turned back down the trail.
Rose hosted one of the most popular activities, arts and crafts. She was a junior in high school and she was the camp’s leading artist. She weaved her creative mastery into all the decorations that appeared in the cafeteria and the outdoor assembly area. In high school, she took the lead with designing all the props and backgrounds for plays. Everyone followed and learned from her because she was so good with the brush. Today, she wanted kids to replicate their own home. They could use any of the materials provided. Construction paper, pipe cleaners, and popsicle sticks were all fair game. They could choose to duplicate their home based on reality or make it abstract. Britney decided to make hers out of pink pipe cleaners.
Rose offers some advice. “What you really should do is make the roof and windows one shade and the rest of the house a second shade.”
“Ok, maybe I’ll use a few other colors.”
“Whatever you like. It is your imagination,” said Rose.
Rose moved around the group. She paused to see what materials Jeffrey was using. He was a quiet child. Rose could relate to him. She had always been on the quiet side too. He was using the popsicle sticks and bamboo. He was off to a great start. The home had an American rustic charm. It was more like an Adirondack cabin.
“Is that where you live?” Rose said.
“No, this is the cabin across the lake,” Jeffrey said.
“There’s no cabin on that side.”
“Sure there is. I saw it in my dreams last night.”
“Well, you keep going. It is really good,” Rose said.
Rose dismissed it as just a child’s imagination. She certainly would not be one to get in the way of creativity. As the kids kept tugging her in every direction, she forgot about Jeffrey’s comments.
The day’s activities began to wind down. Erica called upon her four friends. They agreed to meet at Paul’s cabin to investigate the bottle. First, a great barbeque was to be conducted for dinner. Brad and Justin were elected master chefs. Brad would grill the chicken. A good portion had been marinated in a garlic and wine concoction. He would cook it then sear it until the chicken was crispy. There also was plenty with a barbeque sauce flavor. Justin would handle the hot dogs and hamburgers. A simple task for a laid back and simple man. The salads were all premade. A small food fight broke out with potato salad being the choice of artillery. After everything was devoured, the grounds were cleaned up. The children had been sent off to their cabins for the evening.
The five friends assembled in Paul’s cabin. Only Paul and Erica were intrigued by the bottle. Rose did think ahead. She crafted a corkscrew out of an old wire coat hanger. Rose took the bottle from Erica and had a go at the old cork. The original stopper was missing. Someone had replaced it and cut the cork off at the mouth of the bottle. This made it difficult to remove. With great care and patience, Rose extracted the cork. The room was filled with the aroma of bourbon. Something mystical also occurred that their eyes could not see. It was as if a swirl of enchanted dust went around the room to envelop the teenagers and then dissipated.
“Now we have to figure how to get the letter out of the bottle,” Brad said.
“I’ve got that covered,” Rose said.
She had made a long pair of tweezers out of the coat hanger too.
“Careful,” said Erica as she cringed. “Don’t damage the paper.”
The letter was out. With nimble fingers, Rose delicately unfolded the letter. The paper was in great shape. The residual whiskey vapors must have preserved it.
Rose began to read, “I never meant for things to happen as they did. I am in love with you. I will never forget you. I cannot forgive myself for the things I have done. I was only given one chance. A chance in a lifetime. But, it was not meant to be a lifetime. Just a time in love. So, I am going to a place without time. There, I can love you always and forever.”
“Wow! How romantic.” Erica dreamily whispers. “Is that all?”
“Yes. It is unsigned,” Rose said.
“Ah, it is just some poor guy who couldn’t get over being dumped. Then he ended his life,” Justin said.
“It doesn’t say that at all!” screams Erica. “In fact, the author could be male or female.”
“We need to go back across the lake,” Paul said.
“Oh, no,” Rose said. “We should respect what happened this morning and not take any more chances.”
“We learned our lesson,” Paul said. “Besides, I saw something over there today.”
“Me too!” Erica shouts in excitement.
“What? This is getting bizarre. All the more reason not to go back,” Rose said.
After a long discussion, they all agreed to go back.
Remember to follow the story next week for its conclusion. What do you think will happen? Nothing good. It’s Sci-Fi Horror! I promise a twist or two!