Deep in the forest surrounding the cabin, though within a stone's throw, eyes burned. They had been fixed on this, the sole building for many miles, since the evening sun bled to darkness.
He thought back to the first time he stood there, in the clearing, and listened. The absolute silence. The sense of freedom. The decision to rent the cabin for the summer was easy. The decision to extend the lease straightforward.
Now a routine had established itself. Up early to fetch water, chop logs and gather provisions. It was no hardship to drive to town for provisions, but foraging kept this small inconvenience to a minimum. A quick wash in the nearby stream, bracing even in midsummer, then breakfast. Mostly, this was finished by eight. He guessed the fresh air, the return to nature, something like that, meant he woke early. Not like life in the city. Then the day stretched out in front, to be filled thinking, writing.
His initial fear of oppression had not been realised. He had never been so productive. Hundreds of pages drafted, re-drafted, shaped, moulded to his will. Before he knew it, the day was over, time to light the fire and put something on for supper.
Satisfied, he would lie in the hammock slung between two thick columns in the room at the front of the cabin for a short spell. Soon he would drift off, content. He was coming to terms with the imminent return to city life, as the editor's deadline approached.
That night his thoughts turned to what he knew of the cabin. The rental was cheap, no money down. Apparently the owner had it built thirty years earlier and had brought his family out there for holidays several times until something happened to his wife. That was a touchy subject, even with the agent. It was in good condition, though basic. The chemical toilet in an outhouse wasn't so bad, though you wouldn't want to be out there at night without a powerful torch. Far enough away that even after five months there was no smell. The cabin was two-roomed, the front larger than the rear. Of maple construction and with large windows, for a good part of the day it was light even though the clearing was small and the trees in this part of the forest were old and loomed tall. It was in this room that he spent most time, during the day as well as later, in the hammock. He did not feel comfortable in the smaller room.
The question of the owner's wife bothered him as he lay drifting between thought and sleep. Something told him there was a secret in that clearing. Before sleep came, he resolved to learn this truth, though unsure why it seemed so vital.
The eyes blinked, now rather closer to the log cabin. The silence of the forest intensified and, in a smooth arc, a stone the size of a child's fist flew through the night.
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