Tuesday, August 14, 2012
A House Called Harmony, Part 1
By: Elaine White
Jaime was exhausted. She and the girls had been travelling for six hours without so much as a bathroom break. Clarissa insisted that they would get to their destination quicker if they didn’t stop. Jaime was sure she would lose her mind before she ever reached the cabin. It was called Harmony Cottage, a cabin in the middle of nowhere, so Jaime doubted that spending a few week there during Spring break was going to be Harmony. A more fitting name would be Boredom or Living Hell. But last year their holiday had been her choice and now it was Clarissa’s. And in one respect it would serve its purpose; Marq wouldn’t know where she was.
Jaime spent most of the six hour trip thinking about Marq and their latest breakup. They had been dating for almost a year now, and now things were starting to unravel. She had never been lucky with men, but Marq had been different. He was athletic but he had a brain. He was funny, but never cruel, and he was gorgeous. He was six foot tall with abs you could break rock on, dark mysterious eyes and short, military styled brown hair. She couldn’t imagine anyone better looking. And yet their whole relationship was on the line because of jealousy. She once considered his jealousy cute and protective, but it had graduated into crazy stalker mode.
And Jaime wasn’t bad looking herself. She knew this because of the amount of compliments she got from guys, and the amount of girls who disliked her for the same reasons. She was blonde with legs that went on forever, curves in all the right places and a personality to boot. Jamie wasn’t a bad catch, but no matter how long or how loudly she argued with Marq on the matter, he wouldn’t believe that she wasn’t secretly having a fling with one of the jocks she tutored. And to make maters worse, when Marq confronted Kyle, his best friend, about the rumors, Kyle had confirmed them, discounting all the arguments and protests that Jaime had made. But he was lying and Marq wouldn’t listen to reason.
And neither would her friends. Just two weeks before, Marq had shown up at her door, begged her forgiveness, and even proposed marriage to her. Jaime had been thrilled and accepted, then they spent the night forgiving each other and enjoying their renewed relationship. But the next day her friends told her she was stupid and wrong to accept a proposal made out from guilt, insisting that Marq hadn’t trusted her to be faithful and so she shouldn’t be so quick to forgive him. But it wasn’t that easy. He was the love of her life and she wanted to spend forever with him. Why would she refuse him for such a petty reason?
Their stay in the cabin was going to be anything but Harmony. That much was clear from the start. A week before, two of their close friends, Margery and Celia, had been killed in a car accident just outside of campus late at night during a thunder storm. They had all been close to Margery and Celia and their trip to the cabin had become a memorial, a celebration of their life, and a break from the chaos of campus life all in one. They all needed it. Jaime was lovesick and confused. Clarissa was on the warpath, determined to make sure Marq didn’t stay in her life, while Yasmin and Nico were trying to get over the loss of their close friends. They didn’t seem to care so much, whether or not Jaime accepted Marq’s proposal.
By the time the girls arrived at the cabin, none of them felt good about their trip. They all knew it was going to be a disaster, but they climbed out of the car and unpacked anyway. The rain wasn’t far off so they rushed into the cabin, started a fire and settled down for the night with some wine and music. No one mentioned the friends they had lost or the boy they couldn’t talk about without arguing. So for that night, at least, they enjoyed some peace and quiet and good company, but it couldn’t last. They all knew that. Eventually something would happen that would make their confinement in close quarters with one another explosive.
Not one of the girls had any idea that they were being watched, nor of the consequences that were to come when they finally stepped back out of the front door in the morning. Hell had risen to meet them head on and each of them would suffer before their Spring break holiday was over.
Since their stay, Jaime couldn’t stop crying. They were there only one night in the cabin and already her world was falling apart. Just three hours into their first day, Yasmin had ventured into the store shed behind the cabin to gather more wood for the log fire. The caretaker had assured them that there was enough for their visit and no one would have to chop wood. So, when Yasmin hadn’t returned after half an hour, Jaime went to find her.
She couldn’t believe what she found. It was the most horrible thing she had ever seen. She was sure she had screamed at some point, and even passed out not long afterward. The next she remembered was Clarissa, standing over her looking pale and shocked, and Jaime found herself curled up in a corner of the shed sobbing. Yasmin was dead.
No one knew how it happened. They were alone. There was one road to the cabin and they had taken it. No one could have followed them and no one, not even the other girls’ boyfriends, knew where they were. So who killed Yasmin? There was no doubt that someone did it. She didn’t just find an axe sticking out of Yasmin’s throat by accident. She was found sitting against a tree stump used for chopping wood with the axe firmly imbedded in her throat. It was so heavy that it sagged in place, creating a fissure of exposed muscle, skin and tissue across her neck.
Jaime rose from the sofa where Clarissa had deposited her and ran for the bathroom. It wasn’t the first time she had been sick. When she had woken from her faint, she had vomited twice in the shed — along with Clarissa — and then again when the girls gave her a glass of brandy back in the cabin to calm her nerves. She was apparently in shock, and all she could think about was Yasmin. It was surreal.
Jaime sank to the floor in the bathroom and cried, confused and worried. What had they had gotten themselves into with their stupid memorial trip, with some maniac was running around waiting to kill them all? She wished Marq was with her. He would keep her safe and know what to do. As it was, Clarissa had just discovered that their mobile phones didn’t get good reception anywhere near the safety of the cabin. They couldn’t call for help or to report Yasmin’s death, and they were all too afraid to leave the cabin in search of a signal. And they were under no illusions. There was a killer outside the cabin, but they didn’t know who or where this person was, nor why this person had committed the murder.
The next morning, after they had recovered from the shock of Yasmin’s death, Clarissa ventured onto the cabin porch intent on reaching the car and getting them out of there. In a car, they had a better chance of escape than as sitting ducks in a cabin surrounded with unfamiliar woods. She had no doubt that the killer had come from the woods rather than the road, as in the woods there were more places to hide. But when she lifted the hood of her jacket which shielded her from the rain, she froze. The car was gone. She had parked the car as close as she could, sure that they would be running in from the rain at the time, but it was nowhere in sight.
Clarissa returned to the cabin and pulled off her hood, entirely speechless, as the girls looked at her curiously.
“I thought you were going to the car?” Jaime asked as she sat by the fire. There was no anger or judgment in her voice; only quiet worry and curiosity, for she was afraid to ask if anything else had happened. She and Nico were safely in the house, and with Clarissa in front of her, there was no one missing but poor, dead Yasmin.
“The car ... it’s gone,” Clarissa explained. Then with a sigh and determination to live, she walked to the side cabinet and pulled out a torch light and one of the hunting rifles. The cabin was habitually rented out to hunters and was fully equipped.
“Do you know how to use that thing?” Jaime asked, shocked, as Clarissa loaded the gun.
“I know what end to point and how to pull the trigger. That’s enough for me,” Clarissa answered. “Besides, you know as well as I do that we might not make it out of this place alive. The longer we’re here, the more chance there is of us dying. We need to find the car and get the hell out of here,” Clarissa argued, knowing it wasn’t Jaime’s fault or anyone else’s. But some psycho killer was loose in the woods and if she didn’t find the car, Yasmin’s wasn’t going to be the only body to show up dead.
Jaime walked Clarissa to the front door and locked it behind her. As Jamie watched Clarissa venture into the woods from the window, she said a silent prayer that no one else would die.
This is Part 1 of a three part short story written by Elaine White. Elaine’s book Runaway Girl is the first book in her The Secrets of Avelina Chronicles to be published soon by Write More Publications. A House Called Harmony, Parts 2 and 3 will be posted over the next two weeks.