The Woods Behind The Cabin: Chapter Four
Sign Your Name
Ethan’s icy hand, pulled Laura through the last of the trees. A gasp escaped her mouth as she saw Rob up ahead. He was stood with his back to her, staring across the empty field. Motionless. Rigid. Ethan broke away from Laura and ran past the frozen man.
“Rob!” Laura took a few steps forward but stopped when a bout of lightning lit up the scene. Her mouth hung open as Ethan could be seen staring back at her, holding the hand of a shadowy figure.
A whispering growl cut through the rain and seemed to float over the grass until it reached Laura and climbed up to her ears.
Another flash of lightning filled the dark and Ethan was gone. The strange man however remained. His long hair whipped around his shoulders as the wind began to stir.
Laura tore her eyes from the stranger and forced her heavy legs to move. The squelching grass tugged at her feet as she trudged towards Rob.
Rob remained completely still. His unblinking eyes were fixed on the other man.
“Rob? Rob! Please!” Laura pressed and pulled. She stood on her tiptoes, searching Rob’s eyes for acknowledgment.
Even a sharp slap to his blank face failed to break the spell.
The strange man was a breath away. His form exuded strange energy. Neither heat nor cold but a heaviness. A foreboding weight.
One by one the goosebumps erupted over Laura’s skin. Her gaping eyes stared over Rob’s shoulder to the woods behind. Shadowy forms were littered between the inky trees. Hundreds of reflective eyes stared back at her.
Tires rolled up the dirt road. The silver Volkswagen squeaked as it came to a halt and the police car trundled to a stop beside it.
Zadie was first to emerge, leaving the passenger door wide open as she ran across the drive.
Zadie jumped up onto the porch and knelt to Laura’s barely conscious form.
Sets of doors on both cars opened and closed, and a series of fast feet chattered across the drive.
Laura’s eyes rolled under heavy lids. Mud and grass clung to her hair, clothes, and skin.
“This is P.C. Melville. We have an IC1 female that needs medical …” The officer beside the patrol car began to pace forward with a walkie-talkie in hand.
“Okay, can you step back please?” The other officer nodded to Zadie and took her place beside Laura. “Hello? Miss Folke, can you hear me?”
Stuart wrapped an arm around Zadie and watched as both officers checked over Laura.
P.C. Melville lifted her head and glanced into the open cabin. Broken plates littered the floor and the large couch was flipped upside down.
Her colleague stepped around Laura and entered the shambled living area.
“Mr. Urwin? Hello?”
Laura was sitting in the hospital bed watching the sun dance through the large window.
Her head slowly turned to meet the approaching, P.C. Melville.
“I’m P.C. Melville.”
“Hello.” Laura rasped.
P.C. Melville sat on the chair nestled to the side and opened up the folder she had been carrying under her arm.
“I have your friends’ statements, I just need to get yours, if that’s okay?”
“Can you tell me why you were at the cabin?”
Laura swallowed and nodded. “We were there for the weekend, to celebrate Stuart and Gabe’s engagement.”
The officer jotted down a few words. “That’s Mr. Evans and Mr. Thomason?”
“Who else was staying?”
“Er…” Laura closed her eyes. “Zadie and Rob.”
“And a Miss Alison Deak? Is that correct?”
Laura opened her eyes and nodded. “Alison left.”
“Why did she leave?”
Laura swallowed and coughed.
P.C. Melville stood briefly and passed Laura the plastic cup.
After a few careful sips, Laura answered, “she was scared.”
“Scared? What was she scared of?”
“She heard someone in the living room.”
“This was while yourself, Mr. Urwin, Mr. Thomason, Mr. Evans, and Miss Ward were on a hike?”
“Your friends claimed to have found a boy, in the woods. Ethan?”
“Do you know his surname?”
“Are you sure Ethan was the boy’s name?”
“Yes.” Laura’s brow creased as she watched P.C. Melville scrawl across the page. “Why?”
P.C. Melville glanced up and stopped writing. “We’ve checked the reports for missing children and can’t find an Ethan.”
“So far, your story matches your friends’. They told us that yourself and Mr. Urwin stayed behind after they drove off to get help, is that correct?”
“Can you tell me what happened? Was there a disagreement between yourself and Mr. Urwin?”
“No.” “Did someone break in?”
“When we arrived, the cabin was in a bit of a state. Do you know how that happened?”
Laura shook her head and stared at the white blanket that covered her lower body.
P.C. Melville sighed heavily. “Miss Folke?”
Murmured voices could be heard down the surrounding corridors as Laura walked over to Zadie. The other woman wrapped both arms around her and forced a smile.
“Let’s get you home.”
Laura held onto Zadie’s arm as they walked towards the reception desk and the lady placed a form in front of them.
“I just need you to sign your name.”
Laura picked up the biro and examined the plastic between her fingers. She brought the ballpoint to the signature box and stopped. She turned to Zadie.
“You forgot your name?” Zadie warmly asked.
Laura smiled and proceeded to mark the paper. Once done, she returned the form to the receptionist and allowed Zadie to lead her to the elevator. After a few moments, the doors opened and both women stepped inside the small space. Laura stepped towards the mirror to take in her slightly dishevelled reflection. She brought a hand up and traced the dark circles that lay just below her eyes.
It was night when Laura emerged from her bedroom. She shuffled into the living area to find Zadie watching the television.
Zadie glanced over her shoulder and smiled, “hey. You’re awake.”
Laura took a couple of steps forward.
“Good evening and welcome to the nine o’clock news. I’m Adhira Reddy. The body of a man was found today and is believed to be that of author Robert Urwin. Police discovered the body …”
“Oh my god! No. No!” Zadie jumped up and grabbed her mouth.
Laura stared at the screen listening to the reporter drone on about the story.
“No!” Zadie turned around with tears streaming down her face as she fetched her phone from the arm of the couch. A few quick taps, saw her lifting the phone to her ear and she turned to face Laura. After a couple of shaky steps, Zadie squeezed Laura’s hand. “Erm … Stu’,” her voice cracked and she sniffed back a whimper, “yeah.” Zadie placed her hand over her eyes and sobbed. “W-we’ve … just seen.” Zadie walked into the kitchen. Another strangled sob filled the apartment.
“… more details to follow.”
Laura’s seemingly frozen head turned to look at the French doors.
“Does Alison know?” Zadie’s meek voice filtered through from the kitchen.
Laura fully turned to face the balcony doors and she slowly paced forward until her darkened form was mirrored back in the glass. Her eyes followed the long, dark hair up to the strong, stubbly jawline and hooked nose. A thick brow sheltered the seemingly jet black eyes that stared back at her. Laura brought a hand up to her face and ran her finger over her chin. The corners of her lips quivered and ever so slowly rose.
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