Into the Hollow — Snippet #4 — UNEDITED
No real spoilers here, in case you were worried.
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 doorhandle 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 Mick’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 Mick. 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 but 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.