Usually, I’ll see animals on the way up to the lake. A moose shuffling through a canola field, a few deer grazing by the side of the gravel road, a bear escaping into the woods.
But this trip? Nothing.
The grass and trees are long and overgrown when I pull up to the cabin. Work had been kicking my ass this year, so I never got up to open it early in the spring.
Spiderwebs are thick like I’m breaking into an ancient tomb. I grab a stick to scrape them away to get to the door.
The air is cool and stale, and I drop my bags and walk around, pulling back curtains and opening windows. The heat of the day seeps in to warm the place up.
I flip the breakers and grab the tool to open the curb stop and turn on the main water line. The place is coming back to life.
I grab my food and water from the truck, plug in the fridge and fill it full. Steaks, potatoes, burgers, and beer. I’m ready for a long weekend of fishing and relaxing.
“You gonna bring me a drink when they get cool,” my next-door neighbour calls out. He’s looking through the trees from his deck.
“You come grab one whenever you want, Kurt.” He always takes advantage of the offer, so much so that I bring an extra six-pack just for him.
I grab the key to the shed and walk down and grab the propane tank. It’s late enough that if I’ll get supper ready just before dusk.
That steak is cooked to perfection, and I’m pretty sure anyone in sniffing distance has their mouths watering.
I relax after my meal, lighting the fireplace and relaxing with a beer. That’s when I hear something moving outside, and I peek through the windows. I don’t see anything, but they graze around here all the time, so I don’t worry about it too much.
The following day, when I see Kurt on his deck, I ask, “You hear any animals out here last night?”
“Nothing that I wouldn’t mind shooting with my shotgun,” he replies. Regularly, he stands on his patio, blasting at crows or deer that cross his property. “When you going to get me that beer?”
“Like I said, Kurt, come on over anytime,” I offer, but I’m not too worried he’ll take me up on the offer right now. It’s still too early in the morning, even for him.
I take the canoe out before lunch, along with my rod and tackle. I cast for a good couple of hours all around the lake before giving up. Not even a bit today. The weather must be a little too hot and driven the fish deep.
I paddle my way back to the cabin, disappointed that I’m stuck with a burger and beans tonight.
Kurt is on his patio, holding his shotgun, and I wave, but he doesn’t see me. I’m not really in the mood to joke about the beer he hasn’t grabbed from me yet, so I let it be and go inside.
The place has cooled down, so I toss in a few logs and light the fire. I grab two patties and cook them on my outside grill, and heat the beans on the stove. I check the burgers, and, despite having my misgivings, the food smells delicious.
I sit down in front of the fire and gobble the first burger so fast that I decide to have the second on the side without a bun.
Tap, tap, tap…
I look up and see Kurt at my door. He must’ve finally or that beer. I’m not in the mood to be friendly, but it’s best to play nice.
I’m almost to the door when I notice the shotgun is still in his hands, lowered and pointing at the deck.
“You okay?” I say through the glass door.
“Absolutelyyy. Just here for that beeeeer….”
I haven’t seen up close in a while, but he doesn’t look right. His skin looks grey, and he seems to be perspiring. My hand is on the doorknob, but I don’t open it.
“Come on, buddyyyyy… How about that beeeer….”
Something’s not right, and that’s when I notice his legs don’t end on the ground but bend backwards, snaking off the deck. There’s another version of Kurt lying on the ground beside him, this one not as well-formed, laying stiff like a plank. And there’s another laying on the other side, this one even more primitive.
“Come on, let meee innnn…” Kurt says, but I know it’s not him.
And that’s when something shifts out of the woods behind him. It’s big and bulky and looks like a giant octopus that moves towards me. Every time it drags itself forwards, the Kurt tentacles pulse and squeeze.
“Buddyyy…” the Kurts bray in unison, as they move close enough that their tentacley bodies press against the glass. “Let us innnn….”
The inevitable horrors petrify me, and when my window breaks and one, then two, then three tentacles push their way inside, my sanity breaks. The last thing I feel is them wrapping themselves around me like an anaconda and carrying me into the night.
The monster was the main push of this one. I like the idea of a octopus monster in the woods, and my daughter and I talked about the possibility of the main character feeding an injured dog, which then I thought the monster was mimicing as a way to trap him. It didn't take much into the writing to realize that Kurt was going to be the mimic. (PS - I don't think he's the mimic until the first time he is on the deck looking grey.)