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Marcus slogged out of the cabin, coffee in hand. The sweet scent of the mug mixed with the sharp cold air as he gazed over the dragging hills. Behind him, a massive forest sprawled out like a mossy giant. Much of it was blanketed in a pure white layer. If contentedness was a place, this was it.

He took one step forward and heard a small clunk as his toe collided with something hard and small. Slightly startled, he looked down and picked up what appeared to be a small vase of perfume. It was an off brand product, something with a vaguely blueish greenish liquid inside. Marcus sniffed and caught a brief, bitter scent. Gross. As he flipped it around, he noticed a small note plastered to the back, written in hasty ballpoint pen. Whoever wrote it apparently had horrible prose and an unsteady hand.


“What the fuck?” he muttered. There were many things in life Marcus felt perfectly fine not having an explanation for, and this was probably one of them. In his mind, some shithead party-drunk teenagers had stumbled on his retreat in the early morning and decided to pull a prank only an inebriated mind would find funny. To add some realism, he painted them not quite being teenagers or adults, more so that awkward second transition between the two.

“Yep, that’s basically it”. He tossed the vial in a bin and got ready to drive out to town.

Marcus spent a few hours at town buying supplies for the coming winter. Oil cans, firewood, a wittle for the axes. Unfortunately the last of the materials, some incense to keep away the local fauna, were only available uphill within town. There was no road leading upward and a whole lot of stairs to climb, so he abandoned his car in the lot bordering the town.

He spent all day there, chatting up the townies and eventually conceding to a drink or two. It wasn’t until the sun began to set that Marcus hastily apologized and he ran back to the car he abandoned.

As he approached the lot he noticed a change in the atmosphere. Silence. No birds, no insects, even the wind had stopped blowing. The trees lining the lot stopped swaying, as if to listen for themselves. Shaking off the almost cartoonish change, Marcus stepped trunk-side to deposit his haul. He stopped dead in his tracks.

TONIGHT, YOU was scrawled on the trunk lid with a viscous, black mucous. It smelled like shit and mulch. Possibly at least one of the latter. Punctuating the phrase was a peony, untouched by the sludge.

Marcus gagged and carefully tossed his items into the trunk. He ran back into town and asked nearby establishments if they saw anything, anything at all. Nobody had an answer. Someone at the bar speculated it might have been a group of partying college students, which brought Marcus some relief, and a little pang of anger. “I know them Richard boys like to cause a ruckus on occasion, but I wouldn’t pay them no mind. They’s basically harmless”, the barkeep grunted. This was a lot of effort to prank one guy alone on vacation. If I’m careful, he thought as he left, I might catch them in the act. Give em a little scare.

Perhaps if Marcus had been quick enough, he might’ve caught the worried glances the bartender exchanged with his patrons before he left for home.

Marcus finally settled down back home. The first snowfall was beginning to lightly pepper the outside porch, coating the window in a bleak bluish tint, contrasting with the fleshy firelight of the inside. His hands brittle from cutting firewood and tearing out weeds, he sat down in the recliner and turned on the CRT.

Marcus kept in mind that the unseen troublemakers from today might be back tonight. He delighted at the idea of charging out of the house shirtless, splitting axe in hand and screaming incoherently at the startled youth. Maybe chase them a little down the hill until they scatter. He fingered the slightly worn blade and settled back down, picking up a hunting catalogue detailing the best ways to skin a moose.

Of course, he fell asleep after about half an hour.

It was dark when he woke up again. Marcus started and looked around, realizing night time had fallen since he could no longer make out the treetops through the window. Instead, stars like eyes gazed inward at him over an ambiguous horizon. He picked up his watch. 9:34pm, not too dark. The television had since gone to static. In the entire two hours he was asleep, he heard nothing. Maybe the local Rangers had taken care of the hooligans afterall, once his word got around town.

Outside, a sound cut through the howling snow. Perhaps not. Marcus tightened his grip around the handle of the axe and crept close to the west wall. Something heavy was moving towards the cabin, and the snow was making it hard to tell if it was a party of people or simply a very large man(?).

He waited with bated breath. Adrenaline shot into his wrist with electric preparation. The lesser sound had paused somewhere between a few inches to a few feet away from the wall.

Nothing happened for some time. Until a loud crunching noise was heard from the other side. As Marcus leapt backward, he shouted “HEY fuckwits, I’m armed. Back off now before I call the cops!!” The crunching paused as if considering this claim, then continued. As he watched, the wall actually began to tremble slightly, bits of wood chips falling from the ceiling and pooling by the plaster. Someone was grinding something against the outer wall, in a slow, methodical manner. His eyes widened as whatever it was being used to carve the wall temporarily poked through the wall. The tiniest hole was left where it withdrew and whoever it was outside hastily crunched away.

Marcus sprinted towards the wall and slid up to the hole. Outside, there was nothing but cold stinging air to water his eye, and a few inward-pointing splinters dangerously close to his iris. He threw on a leather jacket and tossed open the door, rushing into the white and black wonderland.

There were large footprints leading from and back into the western dark wall of trees. They were round and weighty, a lone perpetrator. Marcus shivered and looked around. The hill was surrounded by trees, so the vandal could theoretically be anywhere in the treeline by now. Yet the snow and uneven terrain would have made it difficult to trek around for a sneak attack. He also considered how quickly the perp had followed him into town while he was buying supplies: he saw no other cars in town when he stopped by and none passed by as he drove to and from. How had they caught up so quickly? It made no sense.

Marcus turned toward the wall and his feeling of unsafety went up tenfold, enough to drown out the pain of his freezing fingers. This wasn’t a prank or scare tactic, this was malicious and dangerous intent wafting towards him like a radio broadcast.

On the west wall, in letters sometimes reaching eight feet, was the same phrase from before. Scratched into the wood with a deep cutting tool of some sort.


He ran back inside, cursing under his breath. “Shit, fucking shit!” He closed all the windows, locked the front door and turned on the lamps in each room. He knew some shit like this would happen, how many horror movies had he watched beforehand literally detailing how creepy cabins in the woods are bad omens? Marcus calculated for a millisecond. Cellphone reception - of fucking course - was non-existant. If he could run to his car and quickly defrost whatever snow had probably blanketed it, he might be able to drive back to town and get the Rangers.

He geared up, throwing on a parka and snow boots. Marcus was beginning to wish he had a gun. Maybe his threat would’ve been taken seriously.

Whatever steeling of the mind he had put up began to melt as he realized whoever had been antagonizing him all day was trudging back up the hill at an increased speed. They were coming from the north, directly towards his door. As he peeked through the door curtains, he saw two massive black feet come into contrast with the snowy hill, closing in with determination

This was it. The enemy was at the door. He needed to drive them off or this vacation was sure as hell screwed. In the brief moment it took him to stand back to throw the door open, there was a roaring sound. An explosion of wood splinters and iron and cold wind. Marcus was thrown back, his weapon burying itself in the floor a few feet behind him.

As his vision cleared, he looked up to see a fuzzy shadow blocking the doorway, easily taking up the entire frame and using one massive hand to pull itself in. No...not a hand. A massive black paw with ivory white claws clutching onto the remaining wood.

A black bear of prodigious size was standing in the doorway regarding Marcus with cold curiosity. He held his breath, unsure if standing and screaming like in the survival books would be of any help.

Frozen in fear he watched the massive thing loll out a steaming black tongue and sniff the air, appearing to grin. Thick gobs of saliva fell to the floor in a circle. It sniffed the basket, the one he had tossed the perfume bottle in earlier and knocked it over. Incomprehensibly it actually reached in and picked up the vial, studying it like a rare gem.

They locked eyes. And then it spoke in a voice like gravel and leaves spiraling down a drain.


Marcus whispered, “What the fuck. What the hell are you..?”

NO LIKE? it groaned again. It tossed the vial behind it, appearing to shrug with massive furry shoulders. It stepped closer and closed the remainder of the door behind it, floorboards creaking underneath monstrous weight.


Marcus swiftly reached behind him and swung the axe at the thing. The brief joy of watching it sink into its chest dissipated as it casually regarded the handle and in one swift motion, ripped it out and pushed the axe down its maw in a single sword-swallowing motion. It burbled as blood plunked onto the floor. A gash glistened through the fur, red and pulsating with internal heat.

And it smiled, or at least pulled a muscle into what could analogously be defined as a smile. A heavy thump was heard and Marcus looked down, noticing the thing’s flaccid penis plummet out of its body onto the floor. The stench was unbearable, smelling like a mixture of feces and mulch. Oh my God, he had time to think before the massive thing bent over him and tugged at his belt with a thick claw. He gagged as his body was squashed underneath heat and heaviness and stench and blood.



Written by William See
Content is available under CC BY-SA