The chill of a log cabin.
Topic / Brief / Prompt
Everyday I find a topic, genre, prompt of brief to write a short story or flash fiction piece.
General Fiction / Suspense / Narrative.
It’s Marnie’s first night as a babysitter, and she’s only an hour in when she hears a window shatter and the alarm go off. Too bad the house is deep in the forest without neighbours.
Marnie exhaustingly fell into the deep-set, soft couch.
Sitting for a few moments before reaching forward for the remote.
The gratification and achievement of a successful bedtime only visible in a youthful babysitter.
Dimmed lights cast shadows across the wall, Marnie looks around the room taking memories of the decor and comfort this space invokes in her.
Marnie has always been a country girl, every moment she has is devoted to exploring the dense unencumbered landscape that feels innately natural for her to be in.
That, and practising her music, her life’s goal was to study at the University of classical music, a letter received that week, making that dream come true.
Marnie reaches for the faux mink hair throw blanket, a perfect balance of comfort and style, Marnie sinks deeper into the couch. Happy and content to be spending the evening babysitting the Reese’s children.
Marnie had always offered to sit for them, only now she has a drivers licence and car, did they agree.
She didn’t blame them though, being so far out of town, you could cry blue murder and nobody would hear it.
She reaches for the TV remote, presses the standby button.
The tiny, barely visible standby light flickers in and out.
Marnie, sighs, unwraps herself from her blanket feeling the slight chill that always sweeps through the air in a log cabin.
She quietly walks across the floor to check on the power.
Marnie steps lightly in her thick plush socks pulled up over her sweat pants, aware of the silence, serene both inside and outside of the house.
Marnie bends down to peer behind the TV, seeing the power cord tangled and jumbled, Marnie reaches through to the back, her arm pressed between the wall, cabinet, all the way to her shoulder.
Intuitively focused Marnie feels for the cord.
She can feel it with the tips of her fingers, stretching further to push it into the wall.
A snap of a tree branch just outside the kitchen window.
Marnie jumps, hitting her shoulder against the wall.
She takes a brief moment negotiating whether to go check or to continue trying to push the power cord into the wall.
She looks through to the kitchen, feeling the sense of responsibility in her job.
She pulls her arm out from behind the cabinet and steps gingerly through the lounge room, towards the open set kitchen, the warm downlights giving it a magazine like glow.
Marnie looks out the kitchen window, searching the darkness to see what made such a loud crack.
Her mind battling the desire to feel frightened and jump to conclusions.
She looks out, her eyes adjusting the moonlit forest, searching the forest floor she sees a small deer rustling through the damp dense forest floor.
Marnie’s trepidation quickly subsides and makes way for relief, which then turns to the adoration of the beautiful natural scene behind the pane of glass.
Marnie turns the kettle on to make a cup of tea before contemplating what TV show to watch after she fixes the plug.
The kettle whirs loudly, the water boiling, spreading a stream of hot steam across the window.
Filling the cup the steam bellows out of the mug quickly dispersing to reveal the fresh brew below.
Marnie spins around suddenly, the heat of the boiling kettle creating a warm flush on Marnie’s face, but her blood runs cold.
Who’s there? Marnie saying with an over the top authoritative voice.
She gently places her mug on the bench, steps to the hallway door to peer around the corner.
Marnie twitches then stand up straight.
Snapping back into her normal demeanour.
Standing in the corner, in the dark was Georgia, the blonde hair matted on one side, clutching her pink and purple blanket.
”Marnie?”, the little girl moans while rubbing her eyes.
“What are you doing up?”
I thought I heard a noise, she says innocently.
Marnie bends down to cuddle her.
“Come on, back to bed, I’ll read you a story.”
Marnie tucks Georgia into her plush feather down blanket, kisses her softly on the head and turns her lamp off.
Beep, beep, beep….
With the sound ringing in her ears, Marnie races to the kitchen, in a state of shock and panic.
Marnie stops dead and stares at what feels like forever. She is watching a small fire burning behind the TV, up the wall and licking the ceiling.
Marnie runs to the kitchen.
Georgia with her older brother Luke standing in the doorway,
“Marnie, what do we do, Marnie what do we do!?” the panic ascending in the voice.
Marnie barks back,
“Get me my phone, it's on the table, call the fire department.”
Luke grabs her phone and thrusts it at her, eyes wide open and fear awash on his face.
She shoos it away, trying to get anything to put the fire out.
Marnie treading through small pieces of broken glass strewn across the floor quickly grabs the fire extinguisher out of the pantry and runs to the fire.
She held the cold red cylinder in her hands, spraying the powder across the wall, television and cabinet.
The sound of the smoke alarm is still rhythmically playing in the background.
Beep, Beep, Beep.
Envelopes with anxiety, Marnie considers what to do next.
The smoke alarms the only sound echoing through the house.
She grabs a towel, to fan the smoke away from it,
The fumes billowing out of the broken kitchen window.
Filling the moonlit sky outside the log cabin with a haze that normally would look beautiful and mysterious, now the symbolism of the trouble she is going to be in.
“Marnie?”Georgia says sweetly, breaking Marnie's thoughts.
Marnie follows the little girl's eye line, it was her recorded audition CD for University.
On the ground in the middle of the room.
Marnie covers her mouth and gasps, her eyes welling up, replaying her afternoon, searching for a reason as to why it was there.
Searching her mind, whether or not she brought it in to show the children’s parents, they had asked to see it earlier that week?
The Reese family babysat Marnie as a child, they were always so proud of her achievements, wanting to share in her experience was not uncommon.
Luke walks into the Kitchen to grab Marnie's phone to call the fire department.
“Don’t go in there!”
Marnie shouts, the floors covered in glass.
No, it isn't, Luke replied, “ There’s on a few bits, the majority of it was outside.
What?! Marnie exclaimed, confused.
“Yeah, take a look. It’s out there.”
Marnie stepped up to the window, and peered over,
Luke was right, the glass must have had been broken from inside Marnie concluded, the glass glistening from the moonlit sky.
The sound of footsteps, loud and definite where heading towards the kitchen.
Marnie grabbed the children and stood them behind her.
The figure in the doorway revealed himself, tall, unshaven and with a strong brow frowning with an unnerving unpredictable smirk on his face.
“ Marnie, you never should have taken that scholarship. You were supposed to stay here.”
Marnie looks at her phone,