The Cabin 3

Remembering What We Have

Kaine preferred things dead as a doornail, not that doornails knew all that much about life. But as little as doornails knew about it, Kaine knew less. He loved one thing however, the apparent lifelessness of winter. Trees had no leaves, save for the evergreens, and he chopped them all down. Animals hibernated, and those that didn’t would stay far away from his haunt. Given that it’d been snow-covered winter for the thirty months or so that Chester, Amos, and Fanny had crossed over into the Cabin’s world, Kaine must’ve been pretty happy indeed. But he wasn’t, cause he hated snow too.

Which is what brought the three friends to Kaine’s haunt. Kaine had kidnapped a snow fairy, the only way snow came to the Cabin’s world. Given how slippery fairies were, especially of the snow variety, it was an impressive feat accomplished only one other time in the history of this world. By Amos.

Back home, Amos was known for two things – he was the most jittery kid in the holler and its surest hand. He could catch a chicken running at full speed, and two simultaneously if the preacher was coming over on Sunday after church. The fairy wasn’t quite as easy though, and belying what a fairy’s diminutive size might lead you to believe, catching the fairy was a bit more like wranglin’ a mustang. She had pulled poor Amos all across the ridge before finally lambasting into a snow bank. Through it all, Amos’d held on, and by rights, he should’ve been able to use her magic to go back home. However, though it were true that a captured fairy had to grant a wish, the fairy would die with that wish, just like a honeybee once it lost its stinger. Amos had freed Seraphina and she had become his greatest friend in this world.

Unfortunately for Seraphina, the snow fairy, Kaine cared more for his own needs. If his wish cost Seraphina her life, he was ok with it. After all, he preferred things dead.

“You ready to do this?” Chester asked, his nerves making him feel as jumpy as Amos. Chester turned to Fanny. She was obviously scared. He looked to Amos. He wasn’t. Chester blinked and looked at his friend again. Amos’ eyes were as steeled as Chester’d imagined his own Pa’s was while fighting his way from the trenches onto No Man’s Land.

“If Kaine catches us, we’re dead,” Fanny said.

“Nothing will happen,” Amos said.

“Ya know what the preacher always said,” Chester said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” As strange as it seemed, saying the words gave Chester a bit of courage. It wasn’t enough to race across No Man’s Land with bullets zipping everywhere like flies on manure, but it let him know he was doing what he had to do and that was enough.

“Nothing will happen,” Amos repeated.

“How can you be so sure?” Fanny asked.

“Kaine won’t hurt us,” Amos said.

“Kaine doesn’t have a heart,” Fanny said.

“Everyone has a heart,” Amos said.

“Then his is ten sizes too small.”

“You’re exaggerating.”

“Fine then,” Fanny said, “two sizes.”

Amos sighed. “We’re not helping anyone standing around here gabbing. I’m going in.” And into Kaine’s haunted lands he went. Gone was the trepidation of the boy that’d entered the Cabin scared half outta his mind. He’d looked so much like a man.

At least until he stepped full born into Kaine’s hairy, barrel-sized chest.

Chester gasped. Fanny screamed. Kaine glared. No, he glowered, the differences between glaring and glowering obvious upon seeing his face. And normally frightened Amos stood his ground, staring up at the hairy, flaring nostrils of Kaine. The smashed in nose twitched like a predator sensing a prey. He looked like a twist of a bear, a possum, and a catfish, but truth be told, the catfish might’ve been more a result of his smell. He bent down to Amos, squinting as if to see if he really was seeing a boy on his land. He must’ve figured out it were true, for a moment later Kaine bared his teeth and growled.

Amos had shown bravery, but not stupidity. He stepped outta Kaine’s land, back where evergreen trees still grew. Then, content that he was around living things, said, “I’ve come for my friend, Seraphina, and I’m not goin’ home without her.”

Kaine’s lips curled into a ghoulish, green smile. He lifted a glowing glass vial tied around his neck. “Then you won’t be going home.”

Within the vial, Seraphina glowed brightly upon seeing Amos, her face contorted and painful as she pleaded, her voice lost within the glass.

“You’re right, sir. We won’t be goin’ home. We have no way ‘cept costing Seraphina her life.”

Kaine looked at him quizzically. “So, you mean to tell me that you caught her but you gave up your wish for her life?”

“Yes, sir,” Amos said. “It’d be wrong to put my needs above hers.”

Kaine’s eyes softened. “You would give up all your dreams for her?”

“Absolutely, sir. It’s always best to serve others.”

“Hmm…” Kaine said thoughtfully. “I prefer to be served.” He turned and walked deeper into his forest.

“And that’s why you’re alone,” Amos said, though Kaine couldn’t hear him.

“So what are we gonna do?” Chester asked.

“Sneak in,” Fanny stated. “He doesn’t deserve Seraphina.”

“It’s not his fault,” Amos said. “He doesn’t understand what he has.”

“Daddy, what did Amos mean?” Abbey asked. She was far from the baby girl who used to sleep with her book, when Michael used to make up stories and hold the book as little more than a prop. She had eventually figured out the stories were his, and a lot younger than he’d expected, but they still held the book, if for no other reason than tradition. He loved traditions, especially at Christmastime.

“Kaine doesn’t realize how special Seraphina is.”

“Why not?”

Michael loved Abbey’s continued innocence, even as she was becoming a young lady. “You remember Mr. Dell?”

“Sure, he whittled that stick man for me.”

“And he used to curse at me at least twice a week.”

Abbey studied Michael for a moment, as if waiting for the joke’s punch-line, but it didn’t come. “Serious?”

Michael nodded.

“So, why do I only remember him being so nice?”

Michael smiled. “Because he was. When his wife died, thank God he realized how much the way he’d treated others had cost him.”

“Remember his last Christmas?” Trish asked, entering the room with the cup Michael and she shared every night, the tea bringing the smell of peppermint into the room.

Michael smiled. “He dressed up like- -”

“Shhhhh!” Trish scolded.

“He made a funny looking Santa.” Abbey stated. “Too skinny.”

“But he had the jolly ole’ elf’s laugh down pat. If it weren’t for his lack of plumpness,” Michael said, “you’d have never guessed he was ill.”

“And if you’d have asked me two years before if he would ever act so,” Trish said, “I would’ve laughed.”

“So then you’re like Fanny,” Abbey said.

“I was like Fanny,” Trish said, “but God proved me wrong. You can always expect miracles when people’s hearts are ready to see them.”

“Just like Amos!” Abbey said.

Michael smiled. “Just like Amos.”


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