Into the Hollow
It wasn’t as cold as I first thought, but after about 45 minutes of walking, I couldn’t feel my fingers through the gloves and kept dropping Tonto’s lead. Then a light snow began to fall, covering the crunchy snow in a dusting of powder. Occasionally there would be a thump of falling snow from the heavy fir trees, or a bird might have flown out from a nearby bush, but other than that it was totally silent. Our talking was down to minimum since it was hard to converse when we were traveling single file, and the llamas barely made any sound as they glided through the white.
As nice – but cold – as the journey was, the cabin was a sight for sore, snow-blinded eyes. Though it was smaller than Rigby and Christina’s cabin, I thought it was better. It was just so classic, a one-level with snow-covered flowerboxes beneath the windows and shiny icicles hanging from the roof above the porch. It immediately reminded me of the cabin my family and I used to stay in when I was a little girl. The memory of cross-country skiing with my mother and coming home to my father stoking a roaring fire made my heart split open.
“You all right, kiddo?” Dex asked softly, placing his hand on my shoulder and squeezing it.
I sucked in a breath at the memory and flashed him a quick smile. “I’m fine. Just…reminds me of something.”
He nodded, eyes kind and knowing.
“So this is your new home base,” Rigby said. He and Christina were tying their horses to the nearby hitching post.
“It’s lovely,” I told him honestly.
Christina came over and took the llamas from us. “There’s no TV though. Kinda sucks if you ask me.”
“I’ve got porn on my phone, I’m fine,” Dex answered.
I elbowed him while Christina giggled at his remark.
“No reception,” Mitch countered with his hard face trying to suss Dex out. He didn’t realize Dex was joking. Then again, I wasn’t sure either.
I gave Dex a sharp look making sure he didn’t say anything else controversial. It was fine when he was acting like this around me, I was used to it, but Mitch looked like he’d pound his head in over nothing.
“Where do the llamas stay?” I asked, trying to change the subject. Christina and Rigby were quickly removing the packs from the animals.
“I’ve got a little paddock set up for them around the bend. Actually I could let them roam free, they’re so well trained they’d never leave,” Rigby boasted, looking proud of himself. “That’s why they’re called the dolphins of the land.”
“More like assholes of the land,” Dex muttered, showing me his sleeve which was covered in gobs of llama spit.
I grimaced which melted into a laugh. “I thought you were the asshole of the land?”
He didn’t find it as amusing.
Christina handed us our stuff and took the llamas down the path a few feet and around the corner of the cabin. I noticed Mitch was removing a formidable looking shotgun from his belongings, looking it over like it could have gotten damaged during the journey.
His eyes caught mine for a second and they narrowed faintly. I looked away quickly and picked up my pack, heading into the cabin.
It was just as cold inside as it was outside but Rigby was quick to get the fireplace going. He also threw some kindling in the wood stove that was located in the teeny tiny kitchen. The cabin was sparsely furnished and bit cramped but I guess that added to its charm. The living room was small, consisting of a leather couch and a rocking chair, the walls covered with landscape paintings and stuffed animal heads. There was a small hand-carved table in the corner with two ancient looking chairs and the floor was hardwood, covered in several animal hide rugs that spread from the couch to the fireplace. I had a wicked image of having sex on one of those rugs, the fireplace warming my ass. It was no surprise that I was picturing being on top of Dex.
I felt ashamed at the thought and turned my head away from him, making sure to keep my eyes on the rest of the room. This was one of the many times I really hoped he couldn’t hear my thoughts.
Unfortunately, all that remained were the bedrooms. There were two small ones, one with two twin beds and the other with a full. Old-fashioned wash basins sat in one corner and a Swiss-style wardrobe sat in the other. And when Rigby told us he and Christina would be taking the room with the double beds and Mitch was taking the couch, Dex shot me a cheeky grin.
Yeah. This trip was making my heart race in more ways than one.
“We’ll just be staying the night,” Rigby explained. “We’ll be off in the morning. After that you’re welcome to use the double beds and Mitch can take the other room.”
“Oh, it’s not a problem,” Dex replied quickly.
“You sure?” Mitch questioned, those steely eyes focused on me. He looked like he was waiting for me to make a fuss.
“No, it’s cool,” I said firmly. I tugged off my jacket. “I should get unpacked.”
I went into the room with Dex trailing behind me.
“Make sure you hang your wet things in front of the fire after,” Rigby called out.
I smiled and quickly shut the door. The room had a single window that was letting in the late afternoon light. Soon it would be totally dark and there was no electricity.
Dex walked past me to the bedside table where a kerosene lamp sat. He picked it up and started playing with it. “Looks like this will be it for tonight.”
I put my pack down on the bed, pressing my hands down on the cold duvet.
“How are you feeling about all of this?” he asked, putting the lamp back down and coming up to me.
“Weird,” I admitted.
“I promise I won’t snore anymore,” he said.
I tilted my head and looked at him dryly. “I don’t feel weird about sleeping with you. I survived last night.”
His eyes flinched for a second as if he were reliving the bad part of the night. He recovered fast though.
“You might not survive tonight,” he teased.
Again, that image of me riding him in front of the fireplace entered my mind. I quickly buried it away, deep inside, and ignored the flushed feeling between my legs.
“I feel weird about…the whole set-up,” I told him.
He chewed on his lip and eyed the closed door. He lowered his voice. “I do too. Not like in a dangerous way or anything but, fuck, who invited a member of the Westboro Baptist Church on our camping trip?”
Especially when I don’t like the way he looks at me, I thought briefly.
He continued, “Not to mention that I’m beginning to think this whole Sasquatch thing is a hoax.”
I was surprised to hear him say that. “Really?”
He stepped closer to me. I could feel the chill of his coat.
“We’ve got to get Rigby to explain what he’s seen. He’s not been very forthcoming so far and I’m starting to think that Christina really was attacked by a mountain lion.”
“Of course she was,” I whispered. “Her description makes total sense. How the hell did she get Sasquatch out of that? And did you notice how she craves the attention about the whole thing? She was speaking loudly in the diner, wanting everyone to hear.”
“Oh, right. I thought that was just a woman thing.”
I punched him lightly in the arm, careful to avoid the goopy llama spit.
“No, dumbass. I feel like she made it all up for attention.”
“Which means we’re really going to be spending the next few days camping, helping Colonel Kurtz hunt down bears.”
I shrugged. “Looks like.”
He let out a long breath of air then shook his head and rolled back his shoulders. “Well, we’re here, we might as well make the most of it. I’m getting Rigby to talk on camera, tonight. Christina too. If they’re both bullshitting, well at least we can air their bullshit.”
He started for the door but I held him back.
“You mean, I’m getting them to talk on camera. I’m the camera person here, remember? You’re the host.”
I smiled gleefully. “Don’t worry, you’re looking very pretty right now. Perhaps take off the llama goo though.”
“You sure? I heard llama goo was an aphrodisiac.” He winked at me and headed into the living room.
Like I need an aphrodisiac, I thought and followed him into the cabin.
The evening passed by pleasantly, as pleasantly as possible when you were sitting in a room surrounded by bear rugs and animal heads and a fire that cast dark slinking shadows on the wooden walls. There was an elaborate camping stove in the kitchen nook, where Christina prepared some hearty chili that made our mouths burn from an overdose of chilies.
Dex and I were sitting on the couch with Christina, our stomachs full and mouths still hot, when Mitch brought out a massive bottle of orange-labeled bourbon from the bag beside his rocking chair. He began to pour us all a glass, Christina included, when the cabin was filled with a stark white light.
I gasped and squinted at the light coming from outside. “What the hell?”
Dex stood up. “Aliens!”
“Sit down, Mulder,” I said, tugging him back to his seat.
“Don’t worry,” Rigby said, getting up from his chair and going to the window. ‘”It’s the motion detector light.”
“How do you have a motion detector light?” Dex asked. “And why?”
Rigby surveyed the window and nodded, spotting something. “It’s just a deer.”
Mitch’s head snapped up and his eyes immediately went to his gun, which was propped up on a gun rack in the corner.
Noticing that, Rigby said, “No Mitch, no shooting tonight. Tonight we relax and have fun.” He took his seat back at one of the chairs and gave Dex and I an open look. “After what happened to Christina, I wanted to see if this was in fact The Beast, or maybe just a mountain lion. I wanted people to be safer here, either way. So I set it up over the weekend. Runs fairly well and on solar panels. I’ve got one at the back of the roof. It gets just enough light to power these babies. Though, if I can afford it, I might do more solar panels here in the summer. Get the whole cabin running. People don’t like the rustic stuff as much anymore.”
“Such a shame,” Dex said, shaking his head and taking a glass of bourbon from Mitch. “There’s nothing like shitting in the woods.”
Rigby laughed. “Speaking of, the lights should make going to the outhouse much easier. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone off course in the middle of the night. Not the place you want to be caught with your pants down.”
I shivered at the thought of having to use the outhouse in the night. It wasn’t pleasant during the day and using it at night brought back bad memories of D’Arcy Island. I’d take Sasquatch over creepy Mary and the lepers any day.
Dex nudged me then said to Rigby, “If you don’t mind doing this over a glass of bourbon, Perry here would love to get an interview of us on film.”
“Ah, sure what the hell,” he said and leaned back in the chair, propping one boot on top of the other one. “I’ll tell you anything you want to know.”