Darkness settled over the valley like a blanket, as if it had weight and substance. As the last light of day faded away, Jake made another round of the cabin, foraging through drawers looking for batteries for the flashlight. It didn’t take long; the cabin was small, with one bedroom, and a larger room that served as a combination living/dining/kitchen area. For the hundredth time, Jake cursed his brother for not having the random assortment of batteries that was a staple of kitchen drawers everywhere, and then he cursed himself for not being prepared and bringing fresh batteries along. His feelings of unease grew in step with the lengthening shadows.
The weekend had started well enough. Jake had been pleasantly surprised when Rachel agreed to his proposal for a family getaway at Eddie’s hunting cabin on the river. Jake and Eddie were estranged, and hadn’t spoken to one another in over twenty years. They both knew there was little chance of actually running into Eddie up here. He hadn’t used the place in years, and it had fallen into disrepair. In fact, this was Jake’s motivation for coming. He was ready to mend the rift between them, and he planned to fix up the cabin in hopes of soothing his brother’s ill feelings toward him.
Earlier in the afternoon, a storm had begun to brew. Weather reports had suggested it could get nasty, so Jake had sent Rachel and the kids back into town to wait it out. The storm did seem to gather strength for awhile. The power in the cabin went off. But then, just before dusk, the wind and rain stopped. The storm didn’t move out, or die away; it just wasn’t anymore. That was when Jake’s uneasiness began.
Now, the blanket of darkness closed in on him, pressed down on him. Although he knew the windows were open, no outside light penetrated the cabin. Giving up on the battery search, Jake tried to light a candle. Even though the air was unnaturally still, the flame guttered and died as if it was fighting a stiff breeze. Jake considered his options. With no transportation, and no telephone reception this far from civilization, he really didn’t have any. He settled down to wait out the night.
With no activity to keep him occupied, Jake began to focus on the darkness and the silence. There were no sounds now, as if the nightlife in the forest had ceased to exist. Then Jake heard (felt?) a faint hum, an undercurrent of power that seemed to be moving toward the cabin. The hum grew stronger, and as it did Jake’s uneasiness turned to fear.
Suddenly, with enough force to knock Jake to the floor, the source of the hum was in the cabin. Unseen hands lifted him off the floor, and threw him into the wall. Photographs fell to the floor, their glass frames shattering. Then the hands were upon him again. Jake struck out into the darkness, and was amazed when his blows made contact, and actually seemed to gain him some ground. This presence was obviously not human, and although Jake sensed that it could end his life in an instant, it apparently had other intentions.
After what felt like hours, Jake seemed to have gained the advantage, if the fact that he was no longer being pummeled into the walls could be called an advantage. Then, he felt white-hot pain shooting through his leg, from his hip to his foot. He collapsed onto the floor, writhing in agony.
“Who are you?” Jake shouted into the darkness.
“That is not the question. Look into yourself. Who are you?”
Although he heard no voice, the question pierced his heart, and the answers flooded out. He thought of his life and its flaws, of his mistakes too numerous to count. He thought about how he had gotten to where he was. He was wealthy, but at what expense? He had schemed against his brother. He had taken advantage of his father. He had used others when it was necessary, all to get ahead.
The cold sweat from the pain in his leg mixed with salty tears that streamed down his face.
“I am not an honorable man.”
“You are a child of God. He has a plan for you. He will use you in spite of your flaws, if you will only let him.”
The first light of day broke through the darkness, bathing Jake in a feeling of peace.
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