In the forest, the sun bursts through the trees right before slipping past the horizon, as if to say “good-night!”
She knew she did not wake up in her own bed before she opened her eyes. The pain throbbing through her right leg clued her into that. When she did open her eyes, she found herself back inside the little log house, tucked into the cozy bed in the loft and covered with the beautiful quilt.
Well, all of her, except her right leg. It was propped up using a cooking pot covered with a pillow, and swaddled in what felt like a pound of gauze. She saw that her pedicure managed to survive the ordeal but her foot was swelling and turning a gruesome shade of purple.
She sat up to look around and found no one else in the place. On the table were her torn and bloodied Levi’s next to a large animal trap – also bloody. Her face suddenly reddened. What panties did I put on yesterday morning? She hoped they weren’t old worn granny-panties. Oh crap! Yes they were granny-panties because she wore those on Monday’s. Monday was bad enough without adding uncomfortable underwear to it.
Her blouse and bra had not been removed. Frankly, she wouldn’t have minded if her bra vanished. Eight hours were her tolerance level for brassieres. It had been over 24-hours now.
And where the Hell was everybody? Somebody rescued and doctored her last night. Where were they now? Maybe, they’re at the local donut shop fetching breakfast. Although it would be more likely they were in the barn gathering fresh eggs.
“Man, I’ve got to pee,” she said to the empty room.
When it got really urgent, she decided to find somewhere to relieve herself.
“Some hospital this is,” she sighed, ”not even a nurse call-button.”
Gingerly, she maneuvered to the edge of the bed. With both feet together she could tell how swollen the right foot was. Anticipating horrible shooting pain, added to what she considered the constant pain, she squinted her eyes shut and put a teeny bit of weight on it.
Not as bad as she expected, but that was without any of her weight on it. Maybe it wasn’t broken, just cut. Feeling braver, she tried to get off the bed.
“Just where do you think you’re goin’?” The voice came from behind, startling her. She sat down on the edge of the bed again and looked behind her. She couldn’t answer his question because she immediately forgot what it was.
When she didn’t answer, he asked, “Do you speak English?” At least she could nod her head ‘yes’ to this question.
She could not breathe in enough air. Or swallow. Her heart pounded so hard that she could hear it pumping blood through her veins. She felt brain-dead.
It wasn’t only his deep voice that was masculine. He had a ruggedly handsome face, no “pretty boy” looks on this sun-browned cowboy. When he took off his hat she saw that his hair was on the long and shaggy side, but it was clean. His shoulder and arm muscles filled out his worn shirt nicely. And, Lord have mercy, the man had the most devastating eyes. When he smiled, she saw that he had a dimple.
He was perfect.
She had the feeling that she had seen him before. But where, was a mystery. She would remember the perfect man – wouldn’t she?
“Do you need something?” he asked. He came up to the loft and felt her forehead with the back of his hand. His frown confirmed her suspicion she had a fever.
He shook his head and shrugged. In his puzzlement he was even cuter than before. If that was even possible.
Without any warning he scooped her up and carried her outside. Like she was a rag doll that didn’t weigh anything. Her weight, too much for her liking, didn’t make him break a sweat. Ever so gently, he put her down on the outhouse’s ‘porch’ and opened the door for her. Then he gave her a cowbell.
“Ring this when you’re finished and I’ll come back.”
“Thank you,” she said, while thinking you’ve got to be kidding me.
Expecting to be grossed out, she was surprised at how clean the outhouse was. Way nicer than any port-a-potty she ever used. There was a Sears & Roebuck catalog on a shelf left of the hole. Most of the pages had been torn out. Her grandma told her about using catalogs or dried corn cobs for toilet paper. Now, here she was, her spoiled butt used to Charmin, having to scrape herself with the tractor section. She better not get a paper cut on her hoo-hah.
She felt like an idiot ringing the cowbell. He came out of the barn and scooped her up into his arms again. The way he held her against his chest, and put her arms around his neck to hold on – was so fine. She wished he would stay inside the house with her. Maybe he was the strong, silent type.
When he got her leg propped and the rest of her tucked in, he told her that he wanted to take a look at the wound.
“You should just look at the ceiling, or out the window,” he told her. “It’s not sight for a lady to see.” He gently began unwinding the gauze from her leg. She watched him.
“I’m not a lady, really.”
“OK, but I warned you.”
When she saw her leg she tried to stop the tears leaking out of her eyes, but couldn’t. Her legs were one of her best features – until now. The entire leg had hideous bruises and looked like Dr. Frankenstein had sewed it back on. There were a multitude of huge black stitches, in a circle around her leg, about four inches from the top of her ankle. She could not look anymore.
“Don’t worry hon,” he said, handing her a handkerchief that was in his back pocket. “The stiches have pulled a bit because of the swelling.”
He called her hon!
“Could you bring me some ice?” she asked. He just looked at her. “To help the swelling and the pain,” she explained.
“Sorry, but we don’t get ice up here unless it snows.”
“I sent for the Doc to have a look, so we might as well leave it unwrapped.”
“I hope he brings some pain meds.”
“You know, the hard stuff. Codeine. Demerol. Oxycodone.“
By his expression, the chance of any pain relief was nil. That was too damned depressing to think about.
“You should get more rest,” he told her. “Doc should be here soon.”
She was a bit woozy. She closed her eyes and tried to sleep, but she was too wound up. However, she was dozing when the doctor arrived.
“Doc” was just how she imagined him. An older gentleman, with graying hair and a thick mustache. He was on the portly side, but not chubby, and his eyes twinkled when he smiled.
As if she weren’t in the room, Doc and Mr. Perfect discussed her injuries, and the stitches he did. The conversation became interesting when they stepped out of the loft and lowered their voices to a whisper. Mr. Perfect told Doc that she just couldn’t stay here – he was too busy this season to play nursemaid to a dim-witted city girl. And there’s something really wrong with her brain.
Enough of this crap.
“I may be a city girl, but I’m not dim-witted enough to stay where I’m not wanted.”
“Speaking of where you’re wanted,” Mr. Perfect challenged her, “Why the Hell were you roaming, or should I say trespassing, in the forest at night?”
“She challenged him right back. “What are you trying to catch with those big-assed traps – besides women, I mean?”
Doc nearly choked on his coffee.
“Look, I don’t want to be a burden,” she interrupted, pulling herself up in a sitting position. “I’ll just be on my way” She scooted off the bed and stood up. The pain that shot up her right-leg and took her breath away. She fell over sideways. Neither of her legs could hold her up. Dammit.
With all the dignity she could muster, she climbed up the bed and stood again – this time not putting pressure on her wounded leg, and steadying herself with the bedpost.
“Of course, I’ll need to borrow a pair of pants,” she said, looking directly at the guy who ruined hers.
“I’ll be happy to give you a pair of my pants,” he said, “and a ride back to wherever you came from.”
“I came from here, actually, on this very spot,” she told him.
“You came from my house?”
“No, I came from my house, which somehow turned into your house when I walked through my door.”
She knew how ridiculous it sounded, and wished she’d kept her mouth shut. But there wasn’t anywhere he could take her back to.
Then Doc joined in the conversation.
“Listen – my clinic is fully booked with patients. I can’t take her there. She needs to stay off her feet, keep the wound elevated, and swab it with the medicine I will give to you. You already set up a bed for her -“
“Just wait right there,” Mr. Perfect interrupted, “That happens to be my one and only bed.”
What a big baby! She thought but did not say. After all he may be taking care of her.
The Challenge: The door to your house has come unstuck in time. The next time you walk through it, you find yourself in the same place, but a different time entirely. Where are you, and what happens next?…
Author’s note: When I began this writing challenge, it took on a life of its own. I haven’t had this much fun (writing) in a long while. That being said, I figured that 2,000+ words were a bit much to post for a challenge, so this is the first draft of Chapter One.
Her Monday routine was not going well at all. The power was out, so the alarm didn’t wake her. She was going to be late – again.
“SHIiiii*!!,” was her first word of the day. And the second when she saw the coffee pot was empty. The third time was in the shower when she-without-coffee realized there would be no hot water coming down the pipes today. Washing her face in cold water helped wake her, but did nothing to help her mood.
After rushing about gathering her briefcase, throwing an apple and a yogurt into her tote bag, she scooped her keys out of the little ceramic bowl her niece made her in art class and opened the front door.
Expecting to see her little white Honda parked at the curb, she stood there on the porch, dumbfounded.
Her fourth word of the day was “Wha …?” Along with her car, the entire neighborhood had vanished. Pavement, sidewalks, homes, cars and people were gone. She was standing, alone, in the middle of the woods. There were pine, cedar and oak trees towering above her. Some of them she could not see the top of without lying down on the ground to look up. Otherwise she would fall over backwards. Sunbeams penetrated where they could, but there seemed to be more shadow than light.
Without any man-made sound, like traffic or radio, it was completely silent.
When she looked behind her, where her house used to be, was a log cabin. How was this possible? She walked into the place (the door was open). The first thing she noticed, because they nearly took all the floor space, was a solid oak table and four chairs. The floorboards looked like some other type of wood. The kitchen area was neat and tidy. She only knew it was a kitchen because of the cupboards and shelves holding bowls, pans, and weird utensils. She recognized a rolling-pin and a biscuit cutter.
The house did not have any appliances, or water. No electrical outlets. No bathroom. How could people live like this? Maybe it was a get-away-from-it-all deal. Some vacation that would be. She really wanted her iPod now, playing soothing music in her ears. “If I lived here I would have to talk to myself all the time,” she told herself.
Up in a loft, was a wooden framed bed. She debated awhile, then ended up trying it out. The frame held a fluffy mattress made from clouds – or whatever made it so comfortable. She could fall asleep for a week in this bed. On top of the bed was a lovely patchwork quilt. She had seen it before – somewhere. She even recognized some of the fabrics used to make it.
Someone lived here, and was probably close by, judging from the small fire that was warming a tea kettle in the fireplace.
She didn’t know where to go, but she did not want to be discovered, like Goldilocks, snoozing in a bed that belonged to whoever owned this place. Her briefcase had vanished along with her car. She still had her tote bag, but it no longer had her iPhone, iPod or car keys. The apple was the only occupant now. After walking into the forest for a while, she came across a small clearing where she could see the house, but remain hidden from view. She was pretty sure no one would be able to see her. She decided to stay here because who knew when she would come across another house – if ever. Using the tote as a picnic blanket, she settled down on the ground, eating her apple and watching the house.
Her thoughts raced around in her head. Was I transported here? Did some kind of time-warp happen? She fought the tears welling up in her eyes. “No crying!” she told herself out loud. She needed to think, and have a plan. She hoped a nice family lived in the house and would be willing to help her out. Of course, the occupant could easily be some horny, smelly, old man. Or worse – men.
What seemed like hours passed and she grew bored with her stake-out. She decided to hike around a bit (thank God she wore sensible shoes today), while it was daylight. Maybe, she would discover other log houses, or, hope against hope, a town. She began hiking uphill so she could improve her field of vision. If she hadn’t been afraid of heights, she would climb a tree. They were certainly tall enough.
One thing, she thought, I should have paid attention in science class. She had been too busy staring (drooling over) at Billy Hansen to learn anything, and now she was lost in the forest, her watch vanished with her other gadgets, and she needed to figure out what direction she was going, and when she would run out of light.
What seemed like only an hour later, the blue sky turned a darker blue while a pinkish, then orange glow slipped down over the horizon. The trees were ominous (and creepy) in the dark.
“Perfect.” she mumbled. “I hope there’s a big moon tonight, cuz I left my flashlight in another century.” She giggled hysterically, alternately thinking ‘I’m losing my mind’ and ‘I crack myself up’. Once she calmed herself down, she sat cross-legged and gave in to exhaustion. She was afraid to lie on the ground to sleep (who knew what kind of insects and reptiles lurked), so she dozed on and off, sitting there, praying she would wake up in her own bed, in her own time.
An owl swooped across the sky and screeched, startling her awake. She was still in the forest. But in the direction she was facing, she was pretty sure it was east because the sun sank behind her, there was a faint light on the horizon. She watched as the three-quarter moon rose in the sky. She was impressed with how bright it’s light was. With no artificial light, it only competed with the billion stars carpeting the heavens.
After her eyes adjusted to the available light, she tried to find the little trail she followed up here. Instead she discovered another route that took her up a bit farther and from there she could see how the little log house stood in a fair-sized clearing. In back of it there was a small barn, and an outhouse. She could see in the window because there was light inside. Excited to know (sort of) where she was, she tried to catch a glimpse of who lived there. They must be sitting by the fire, she imagined. It was a chilly spring night. She pulled her sweater together and stretched the sleeves over her hands. At least there were no bugs chewing on her.
She saw movement that looked like a man crossing in front of the window. He stepped out on the porch, followed by a dog who immediately ran to a tree and lifted its leg. The man took what looked like a small bag out of his shirt pocket and began doing something – she couldn’t make out what it was, so she stood up and made her way through some bushes for a better look.
That was when she heard the click sound.
She froze mid-step, her heart pounded up her throat, and fear overtook her. Her instincts screamed “Run!”. Before she could move she heard another sound. It was the sound of metal cutting through her shinbone. Her scream was so shrill that only the man’s dog could hear it.