Into the Hollow
Dex smiled and went to the room to rummage for the gear. Suddenly I felt nervous. The lighting in the cabin was creepy and dark, which would be great for atmosphere but I didn’t know as much about lighting as Dex did. And I wasn’t about to ask him either.
I took a big gulp of the drink and it went down smoother and sweeter than expected.
“Take it easy, gorgeous,” Mitch whispered from beside me. My eyes snapped to his and my shoulders automatically hunched in from the look in his eyes. Talk about feral.
I shot him an uneasy smile, then looked at Christina. She had the same look on her face and brought her knees up to her chin, hugging them.
“All righty,” Dex said, coming out of the room with the camera and a mic which he pinned onto Rigby’s flannel shirt. He attached another wireless mic to his dark fishermen’s sweater. I got up and joined him and he placed the camera in my hands.
“Just try to get us both in the shot for a few questions,” he told me, “then just a close-up of Rigby for the rest of it. I’ll be able to edit with that.”
I nodded, my swallow clicking in my throat.
He leaned into my ear and whispered, “You’ll do fine, kiddo. Just remember to take the lens cap off.”
His words warmed me from inside and I gave him a grateful smile. I took the cap off the camera, flipped the camera on and framed up a shot of the two of them. Dex sat on the edge of the coffee table, while Rigby sat forward in his chair, both of them sipping the bourbon. I fiddled with the ISO settings on the camera, hoping to get their faces light enough but still keep the creepy, shadowy aspect of the room. As it turned out, it didn’t look too bad. I angled myself so I was more behind Dex’s left shoulder and that way I could see the hint of the fireplace in the background, the flames making the dark eyes of the animal heads dance.
OK, so maybe that was a little too creepy. The animals looked like they were watching me. I brushed off the feeling and concentrated on the job at hand.
Dex started with the basic questions about Rigby’s life and his business, totally at ease in this position. I hated to admit it, but he was much better at being the host than I was. I took a silent sip of my drink, being careful not to jostle the camera too much.
“Tell us about the first time you saw Sasquatch,” Dex prompted.
Rigby took in a deep breath and exhaled until his handlebar mustache wiggled up and down. “Well, that takes me back a few years to be honest. That’s when I first saw the beast. That’s what I tend to call it. Unlike my daughter, I cannot be sure what the creature is. But it is a beast. Oh yes, a terrible beast.”
He paused to have a sip of his drink and I found myself leaning forward in anticipation. I adjusted my grip and kept the camera focused on his face.
“The first time I saw the beast was right here in this cabin. It was in the fall and the first snows had come. The first snows here always come like a feather. Very light, very beautiful. And damn cold. I didn’t have enough wood in the shed out back to keep the fireplace going at full blast, so I spent the night in front of the fire, wrapped in my sleeping bag.”
My eyes went to the fireplace and I imagined the scene. There was no way I could stay in this cabin alone.
“I must have drifted off,” he went on, his eyes becoming wide at the recollection. “Because I was suddenly aware of a sound. It started off far away, like my ears were blocked. Then I heard it more clearly. It was the sound of the door handle going up and down. Up. And down.”
The skin at the back of my neck tightened and I resisted the urge to turn around and look at the door. I needed to keep filming them, even though it felt like this dark, heavy subject was looming behind me.
“I was facing the fire at the time and it had died down to the point where it wasn’t as bright. I turned around and looked. I wasn’t really afraid, just curious as all hell. What was there to be afraid of? Bears don’t usually try the door handle when they’re trying to break in.”
“Then what happened?” Dex asked, placing his empty glass of bourbon on the table behind him. Like magic, Christina had Mitch’s bottle and refilled his glass in seconds.
Rigby stroked at his mustache, his eyes on the door, lost in the moment. “Something I can’t forget, that’s for sure. Even now, I remember this as well as the day Christina was born. I saw the door handle go up and down, like someone was standing outside, trying to get in. But get in as silently as possible. But, you see, I had locked the door. It was windy that night and the latch back then was rotted, so I put the deadbolt on it. And I was glad I did. I only had that deadbolt so that guests would feel secure during their stay, even though there are no wild mountain men roaming the woods. But at that moment I thought maybe there were crazy mountain men out there, looking for a warm place to hide.”
He paused, taking a deep breath. “Thinking that, my first instinct was to go for my rifle. So I got to my feet, and believe me I was careful not to make a sound. It was freezing in this cabin with the fire so low and I remember how cold the gun felt in my fingers. But in the moment I grabbed the gun, the noise stopped. I looked and the handle was still. I may have shit my pants, because I’m telling ya, I was sure that if the person wasn’t at the door, they were at the window. And watching me. Just look around now. Can you see out with the glare of the fireplace bouncing back at you?”
Dex turned his head and looked behind him. As he did so, he gave me a nod. I took the camera off of them and aimed it at the window behind Christina and Mitch. Rigby was right. All you could see at the window was the hazy, flickering reflection of everything inside. Someone could have been looking at us right then and there was no way we could have seen them.
“So,” Rigby started and I brought the camera back to his face, “I froze and tried to figure out what to do next. They couldn’t get in and I had a gun, so I figured I was at an advantage. Then I remembered the windows in the bedroom. They aren’t that high above the ground and are easy to break.”
Oh great. He was basically explaining how fucked we were in the cabin if anything were to happen to us.
“I went back there to check. It was easier to see out since the light didn’t reach in the bedrooms. I looked outside. I didn’t see anything. At first. Then the moon came out of a cloud and illuminated the snow. I saw prints out in it. Very large prints that hadn’t been snowed in. Fresh. Then…”
I could feel the heaviness in the air, like everyone in the room was anticipating his next words.
“Then I heard another noise. A scratching sound. A sound that made me feel like losing my guts right there. It was worse than nails on a chalkboard. I can’t even describe it but it made me sick. I gripped my gun tighter and I went back out here. The doorhandle wasn’t moving. But something beneath it was. There’s a space between the floor and the door. I’ve got rubber lining there to keep out the cold but that night, the rubber had been pushed up. There was a set of four claws sliding their way underneath the door.”
I gasped, my heart thudding in my chest. I couldn’t help it. Christina made a similar whimper.
Rigby nodded and wiped at his brow. “They were there for a second and they quickly withdrew like it knew I was watching. Ah, I don’t even want to think about what would have happened if…well, anyway, those weren’t normal claws. They were much longer and straighter than a mountain lion’s and black like they were carved from black rock. The first claw was the longest…it was sharper, thinner, and twice as long as the other ones. It looked a lot like…fingers.”
He finished off the rest of his drink, wiped his mouth and held it out for Christina to fill. I took that moment to nudge my now empty glass toward her too. Fuck this shit, I was getting drunk tonight. There’s no way I was going to sleep if I didn’t. Even though I didn’t really believe what Rigby was saying, my imagination was overactive and I’d be thinking about it anyway. I was so, so glad that I was sleeping with Dex. I had a feeling I literally would be using him as a blanket. No, make that a shield.
“And that was that,” Rigby said, leaning back in his chair.
“That was it?” Dex questioned.
“Yup. The claws disappeared. I spent the night awake, huddled in the corner, wrapped in a sleeping bag with the rifle in my hands. Like some damned fool. Next day I went outside and the tracks were gone. Snow had buried them so deep.”
“But you said you had tracks, a mold of them made, right?”
“I do. That was from another time. Actually last year. And I’ll show them to you tomorrow morning before we take off and tell you a bit more. But, I think I’ve talked enough for tonight. Time for drinking and talking about other things, don’t you think?’
Dex agreed and I turned the camera off and put it down. I wobbled slightly from the bourbon and smiled at my lightheadedness. Dex got up, stretching and came over to me. He patted me on the arm.
“Don’t put that camera away,” he warned. “We should go shoot some scenes outside.”
Ha. Funny. “Uh, how about no?”
He grinned. “But you’re the camera gal now. You don’t get to be scared.”
“I’m not scared,” I mumbled. “I’m cold.”
“You should be scared!” Christina exclaimed suddenly, getting off the couch. I jumped a bit, forgetting she was there for a second. She shot her dad the evil eye as she passed him by. “Thanks Rigby, now I’ll be up all night. You weren’t the one attacked, remember.”
He smiled sympathetically at her as she took off to their room and slammed the door. He looked to us. “I didn’t want to bring Christina here, but she insisted. She’s hard to say no to.”
I tried to look like I understood, though inside I was kind of judging him for the way he treated her. They had a whacked out father and daughter relationship, though I suppose it was no better than my own.
“Come on,” Dex insisted, bringing me my coat and holding it out.
I sighed and let him put it on me.
Moments later we were all bundled up and heading out the door. I studied it, wondering how the claws - or God forbid - fingers, could fit under the door. They must have been quite thin. If it actually happened.
Now that Dex and I were outside with the camera and staring at the cabin from there, our surroundings lit up by the motion detector lights, I felt further removed from the story. And the bourbon was swirling nicely in my stomach, a pleasant distraction.
“Film the horses at the post,” Dex suggested. I did, though they were just standing there, tails swishing, half in the dark and half in the light. I guess it was kind of atmospheric.
“That was quite something,” I said about the interview, moving the camera’s focus over to the cabin in a wide shot.
Dex rubbed his gloves together and held them up to his mouth, blowing hot air on them.
“He’s quite the little storyteller, I was quite surprised,” he admitted. “He seemed to believe it too. Maybe it’s not a hoax.”
I raised my brow at him. His eyes were dark and serious.