The Ratty Wooden Shack
It stands about twelve feet high from the mud-splattered base to the point of the mossy shingled roof. The door is an old sheet of plywood, likely no more than a half-inch thick considering how warped it is, and covered in a rainbow of molds; fuzzy blues, oily greens, hairy whites, slimy oranges, a disconcerting brownish-yellow splotch about three feet off the ground. The walls are made of boards of varying ages and colors – some a faded gray, some a rich dark brown, the rest lost somewhere in between. Some are missing, leaving gaping holes, and some have been reinforced with small squares of plywood. Some have been reinforced with branches, too, and some with tree bark. To the left of the door is a dirty glass window.
“Does… someone really lives here?” Dallas asks, shuddering at the thought.
“You’d be surprised, Dallas,” Hilter answers slowly, unable to take his eyes off the ratty shack. “The human body is a resilient organism; I know a young man who survived on nothing more than weeds and water tainted with lead paint for the better part of his life.”
They stand there as the forest drips rain on them. The ratty wooden shack has an air of death around it; this is a place where the damned come to die, where the lost souls of the world wander to find out just how lost they really are. To enter the ratty shack is to leave the world behind; to leave the ratty shack is a promise to return to it in worse shape. The thick dragged body track leads right to the moldy plywood door.
“Well,” Hilter says, then nervously gulps. It gets caught in his throat like a wad of hair in a shower drain. “I suppose we’d better knock on the door, then. I’ll go first; follow my lead, Dallas, but be prepared to run.”
“No,” Dallas says.
“This is where the guy that killed my brother lives, isn’t it? The burglar?”
Hilter studies Dallas’s face, then nods. “I believe it is. And if my hunch is right, your brother’s dagger is probably in there, too.”
Dallas nods. “Then I’m going first. All my life I’ve just done what I was told, I was always the follower, the quiet one, the kid who stayed in his room unless I was told otherwise. I’m tired of being that guy, I’m sick and tired of it. My brother’s murderer is shacked up in that ratty shack, and I didn’t walk all the way out here through the pouring rain just to let you go first, Hilter. I need to do this. Not just for myself, but for my brother. For Johnny, I need to do this.”
Without a word nor a moment of hesitation, Hilter steps aside. Dallas stands there for a bit, surprised the words came out of his mouth the way they did. Then, he begins to walk. With every step towards the shack Dallas takes, his heart beats harder and harder. Flocks of butterflies take flight in his stomach, his arms tremble like branches in the wind, his teeth chatter like the bones of the restless dead, but still he walks forward.
Suddenly, Dallas is at the door. He places a hand on the handle – it’s soft, much softer than it should be, but it’s still solid, like a fuzzy can of beer – and then closes his eyes. Takes a deep breath. Opens his eyes.
Then, Dallas opens the door.
Hello Commons, this has been the seventh subchapter of the fourteenth story from Convenient Incidents, an anthology of fifteen interconnected short stories which revolve around a man by the name of Hilter Odolf Williamson.
Convenient Incidents is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.
Convenient Incidents is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
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If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. Be well Commons~