Winter seemed reluctant to release its hold of the forest that year – even more so than normal. All the paths up to Jepson Point had been blocked since the first heavy snows drifted in last fall. Even on that day, as the sun yawned across a blemish free, azure Alaskan sky, the chilled air remained stubbornly resistant to the approaching spring.
It was cold, it was – but at the same time, not as cold as it looked. It’s hard to explain. So I didn’t. It’s just the way I’ll remember it.
As the Rangers made their way into the trees, tiny drops of snowmelt splashed into freshly made paw prints: wary footsteps lightly trodden by the first animals to venture from the warmth of their dark, winter hiding places. Up in the canopy the opening bars of an embryonic spring song whispered through the pines. It took them all night, but finally the Point was in sight.
I’m not sure why we couldn’t have got there sooner. It might have ended differently. Maybe it wouldn’t. No, I don’t think it would.
Radio contact with the cabins nestled on the edge of Green Lake had stopped three weeks back – lines down were the explanation. Even in the days of mobile technology man seemingly remains in communication at the pleasure of nature; lines were down all over the forest.
The forest. Beautiful and terrifying. I never wanted to be anywhere else; I’ll never go back. How can I?
The cabins were quiet. The lake’s eerily green waters still frozen. Ribbons of smoky fog swirled amidst the early morning battle of sun and ice. Piles of chopped wood lay gathered in neat stacks at the gable end of the first cabin after the lake head.
Almost too neat.
The windows remained shuttered. The snow covered chimney said there was no fire burning in the grate. There was no answer as Chief Ranger McLennan rapped firmly on the door. Unlike in the movies the door didn’t then creak open: it was locked from inside and the key was in the door. It took the persistent boot of Assistant Ranger Jefferson to prize a way in. On the bed is where they found her – blood stains everywhere.
We should have waited for the others. We should have.
Nobody knew who she was or where she’d come from. The cord between frozen mother and child painted with ice-tipped crystals. The radio crackled in the corner of the cabin. Blood smeared the smashed controls; there was no sign of the hunter who had rented the cabin. Without thinking a shivering Assistant Ranger Jeffries set the hearth ablaze. Slowly the cabin’s single room began to defrost – to feel alive again.
From the bed there came a child’s cry; a mother screamed a scream of unimagined pain. Harry McLennan’s last words were ‘Run, for the love of God, run’. Assistant Ranger Jeffries remembered nothing more in the cabin – he has never been able to recall how he got back.
I know you don’t believe me. But that’s the way it was. I know that’s the way it was. I just wanted to get warm. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
Winter has returned to the forest. The cabins at Jepson Point now lie broken and abandoned – a mother’s screams still echo through the pines; her child now silent and still once more.
Yes, I admit this is weird, but it’s truly what came to mind when I read the prompt i.e it had to be written! I hope the crowd over at Yeahwrite find something in it they might enjoy.