Magic Cabin

The man was hungry, he had travelled for days. He had awoken, unknown and alone, atop a white mountain, climbed down to the valley, been welcomed to and then chased out of town, traversed cattle and horse farms, followed the black river, encountered bears and deer in the forest, and now came to this driveway.

It was barely discernible though in occasional use, as shown by the parallel tire tracks, between which grew tall thistles. He followed the tracks for a hundred metres and entered a clearing, also overgrown, but devoid of trees, except for two young maples growing side by side, and a clump of ghostly birch.

At the centre of the clearing was a strange rippled steel structure. He thought at first that it was a cargo container or a garage. Then he saw hidden windows, all shuttered, and a discreet door. Was it a bunker?

It seemed to have dropped from the sky, brought in by helicopter, or maybe it was a spaceship and had landed of its own accord. That would explain the circular clearing – it was a blast radius – but not the remaining maples; they weren’t fast growers, and cottonwoods would have risen before them. He couldn’t see the river, but heard it strongly washing by.

The door and windows seemed impenetrable. He wondered if it was waterproof, and if it would float. The valley stretching between the white mountain where he awoke, and the dark mountain that he was drawn to, was a floodplain. Its creators were rivers of water and of lava.

Something sparkling was nailed to both of the maple trees. When he drew closer, he saw that they were wooden signs set with diamonds. The sign on the straighter left tree said Love Thy Neighbour. The sign on the curly-trunked right tree said Strangers Welcome. How were they welcome, he wondered, in a place so remote and so sealed.

Then he thought, I haven’t actually tried to get in yet. He had just assumed it was locked. Pushing the door caused a click, and the door opened wide. Inside was a cosy lounge with a pair of dark sofas and a fireplace ready stacked. He stretched out on a sofa for a while and then wandered to the adjacent room, where he found a kitchen set for tea time. He boiled the kettle, brewed some black tea, and added powdered milk and sugar. He also raided the biscuit tin and found lemon shortbread. It was his favourite treat as a child; his grandma always kept some hidden.

A set of steep metal stairs led to a low bedroom with double bed, soft pillow and check blankets. Maybe he’d stay there tonight. In the far corner was a gunmetal writing desk maybe a hundred years old, from the1940’s. A book with maroon leather cover lay upon it. He opened it and read the handwritten title, “Diary of a Pioneer”.

It began, “I found myself atop Mt Alba, unknown and alone. How I got there I cannot say, only that I was blessed by God with the power of mind and strength of body, and also with a calling – to reach the dark mountain at the far end of the valley. It is a dangerous journey, with swamps and monsters to battle, both of the forest and of the mind, but I am beckoned and so must heed. I feel that I am the first of many. I have prepared this humble rest stop for those that come after me…”

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