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Chapter 7 We Meet Again
Words Count: 1147    |    Released on:24/02/2022

Compared to the majestic landscape that surrounded it, the cabin didn’t look like much more than an old shack. Just log beams stacked on top of each other with two windows on each side. Still, she pulled her professional camera from its case and looped the strap around her neck before approaching the cabin. At the back of the cabin she took pictures of a well tended box garden and a stack of firewood that seemed to be more than enough for the coming winter.

A sensation passed through her as she thought on the sadness of preparations for the winter that Raymond Ellis wouldn’t see. Her attention was called towards the forest and for a moment the memory of her toddling through the woods towards a moving fur ball flashed through her mind. A fleeting sensation hit her that this might be that same forest. But she shook off the idea and turned to go into the cabin.

She was surprised that the porch seemed very sturdy even though the screen door was rickety, hinged by a rusty spring that snapped it shut behind a heavy slab of a door that took an effort to push as it creaked when they open it and groaned when they closed it. They stood at the doorway for a moment then Brooke took a picture of the space that felt more than empty. It felt hollow.

“Can you imagine that he lived here all alone?”

Brooke felt a profound sense of sadness as she looked around the cold hard furniture and the old accessories. The only speck of vibrant color that she could take in came from a crocheted blanket that covered the back of an easy chair near the fireplace. She got up close and took a picture.

As she walked across the sturdy hardwood floors of the living room and kitchen, she let her eyes roam across the shelves and walls in search for picture frames or photo albums but found none. The cabinets in the kitchen were bare with only a few dishes and small stash of canned goods. The refrigerator was empty.

“Somebody probably came to clean up everything,” her Aunt guessed.

In total, the cabin contained four bedrooms furnished with beds, side tables chairs and floor lamps. It didn't seem as if anything new had been bought for the cabin in the past 50 years. Three of the bedrooms looked as if they had been shut up for a decade or more. Hand stitched quilts and blankets were in every room. She took pictures of them as she imagined that, long ago, someone had tried to make this space a home. However, it was quite evident that over the years the cabin had been used as little more than shelter. Brooke opened drawers and closets, wondering if she would happen upon a treasure of some sort. But was faced with little more than dust.

In the back master bedroom, it was easy to tell that someone had occupied the space and made it theirs. Clothes, well worn and nearly thread bare in some cases, for a man that worked out doors; jeans, overalls, boots, coats, flannel shirts, and a few Sunday best suits hung up in the closet.

Beside the bed was a wheelchair that made her heart sink a little as she took a picture. She hadn’t known that he’d been in a wheelchair.

The bed was made up with a hand stitched quilt that was perhaps too thin to keep anyone warm lying on top. It seemed to be much older than the quilts in the other rooms. As she took a picture of it and then took it in, there was something about the pattern in the center of the quilt that drew her in. It was almost like a long lost memory she couldn't quite reach or a dream she had that she couldn't quite remember.

She didn't know what possessed her to fold that top blanket up and tuck it under her arm.

She did the same with the other quilts and carried them to her Aunt’s car. As she placed them in the trunk and packed away her camera, she heard a whimper on the wind. Though it was faint enough that she might have imagined it. She turned from the trunk as the whimper reached her ears again and she tilted her head in all directions until she felt certain of where it was coming from.

Without a thought she followed where the whimper lead her. As it became louder she noted that the whimper turned into a whine and then a whining sounded much like a wounded animal. Just as the thought crossed her mind she spotted a jagged hole opening in a covering of branches and leaves covering a pit in the ground amplifying the painful whimper. When she pulled back the remaining leaves and branches she uncovered a good sized gray wolf that was trapped inside of it.

He began to howl and howl as she got closer. He was visibly angry but in his crystal blue eyes she could feel that he was also very scared. She looked him over and noticed that he limped as he paced the small dimensions of the pit that wouldn’t allow him to climb out. She locked onto his worried eyes again and got a curious feeling that this wolf was much like the young wolf she’d remembered.

“Have we met before? Do you remember me?” She asked soothingly and was surprised when he blinked curiously at her. “Or maybe I dreamed about you. Poor thing. You’re hurt! Just hang in there, I’ll call animal control.”

Even though he limped in obvious pain, he wouldn’t stop pacing and prowling the bottom of the pit. He also wouldn’t take his large, hooded eyes off of her. She placed the call, keeping her eyes on him as well. He was full grown and muscular. She wondered if he were there alone or if others were in the area as well.

Taking in the thickness of his fur and the pained sadness in his eyes she told herself it didn’t matter. She could stay with him until help arrived. She felt relieved when the dispatcher assured her help was on the way and noticed as the wolf seemed to relax and take a seat on his haunches before lying down. She got the strangest feeling it understood that everything would be alright.

But suddenly his ears pointed high and he leapt to his feet as he growled low and guttural. Scared, she backed up but was halted by a reverberating growl behind her. She turned too quickly, only getting a glimpse of the pack of wolves she’d imagined might be nearby advancing towards her. She lost her footing, and found herself tumbling backwards into the pit with a snarling wolf.

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