Randy quickly entered the cabin and slammed the door shut behind him. He was breathing heavily and had a panicked look on his face. The others just stared at him, confused. He slowly turned, daring to peek through the peephole in the door.
“Dude,” Rob said, “What’s the matter with you?”
“It’s out there!” Randy screamed.
“What’s out there?” asked Lana.
Rob, Lana, and Becky exchanged nervous glances, then burst into laughter. Rob walked to the front window and pulled the curtain to the side. “I can’t believe you bought that old lady’s story!” he said.
It had seemed a little far-fetched. On their way out to the cabin, they made a pit stop to refuel the car and pick up some provisions for their weekend getaway. For some reason, it had never occurred to any of them to stock up at the supermarket in town before hitting the road. For some reason, they didn’t question the fact that stopping at a run down old gas station on the way to a secluded cabin in the woods was like a cliche out of every horror movie any of them had ever seen. Really, none of them should have been surprised by the terrifying legend shared by the woman behind the cash register.
She warned the young quartet of travelers of a monstrous beast that roamed the nearby woods late at night. She told the tale of a woodcutter that had lived in those woods. No one knew for sure what happened to him. They didn’t know if he was devoured by the beast, or if he had become the beast itself. The whole situation was shrouded in mystery. “What’s this beast look like? You know, just so we’ll know what we’re looking for,” Rob asked the old woman as he paid for the gas and groceries.
“I wish I could tell you, son,” the lady began, “Anyone who’s seen it hasn’t lived to tell about it.”
The girls got nervous. Randy looked like he was going to wet himself. Rob just stifled his laughter. “Well, thanks for the warning, ma’am. I think we’ll take our chances.” With that, they continued their drive into the middle of nowhere. No landlines. No cell signals. No means of communication with the outside world whatsoever.
“I’m telling you guys! It’s out there!” Randy yelled again, his back pressed against the door as if he was desperately trying to keep it closed.
“Yeah? What’s it look like?” Rob asked, still staring out the window into the darkness beyond the porch.
Randy moved slowly away from the door, his eyes darting around the room. “I didn’t see it,” he said as he suddenly moved quickly to the sofa. He slid it across the floor, using it as a barricade against the front door.
“Of course, you didn’t see it,” Rob said, “It doesn’t exist.”
Lana and Becky drew near to each other. They were getting nervous again. They remember the old woman’s warnings. Sure, the drive from the gas station to the cabin had helped to rid their minds of any worry they may have had about some legendary monster in the woods, but now that Randy was panicking and claiming to have encountered the beast, their fear was rising once again.
“Maybe we should go,” Becky said to Rob.
“No,” said Rob, turning away from the window. He closed the curtain and sat on the arm of the sofa which now blocked the front door. “There’s no reason for us to panic just because Randy jumped at his own shadow on the way back from the car.”
“I didn’t jump at my own shadow!” Randy yelled. “I heard it in the trees! Whatever it was, it moved fast!”
“Yeah, rabbits do that sometimes when they get startled by people in their habitats,” Rob said, laughing to himself.
“You really think it’s just a rabbit?” asked Lana with a slight tremor in her voice.
“Or a raccoon or a possum, maybe even a bear,” Rob said. “I can pretty much guarantee it’s no monster. This isn’t some stupid B-movie where four friends drive out to the middle of nowhere and get picked off one by one.”
Lana and Becky just looked at each other. They weren’t feeling any better about the situation. Randy paced back and forth, obviously still terrified by what he imagined was outside. Rob sighed, “If it makes you guys feel better, we’ll leave the couch here to block the door overnight. I’ll even stay out here and stand guard.”
“But what if it breaks through?!” Randy asked. He was freaked out. Nothing anyone said or did would calm him at this point.
“Then I guess I’ll get eaten or ripped to shreds,” Rob said insensitively. “In which case, you’ll have been proven right, brother. First time for everything. And when that happens, I expect you’ll pile into the car and get the heck outta here.”
“Good plan,” Becky said.
“Go to bed,” Rob told the others, “I got this.”
None of them slept that night. The girls shared a room, huddled together in fear, gasping at every noise their sensitive ears picked up. Randy was too afraid to sleep in his bed. He crawled into a closet, knowing that there were no windows through which the beast could sneak in to eat him. And Rob, despite showing a strong sense of skepticism, was kind of unnerved by Randy’s panic stricken expression when he had come back into the cabin.
Rob had known Randy since they were five. Even Randy would admit that Rob was always the brave one. Randy was content sitting back, watching Rob take all the risks. So for Randy to be afraid of something as simple as a story told by some random stranger was no surprise. Still, the look on his face made Rob stop and think about what could have really caused him to become so terrified.
Nothing happened. The night passed without incident and the dawn broke, just like it would on any other morning. As sunlight filtered through the cracks in the curtains, everyone slowly left their bedrooms to check on their brave night watchman.
Rob stood from the couch, yawning and stretching. “See?” he said, “I told you nothing was out there. It was just some happy little woodland creature that probably got scared when Randy closed the back of the Jeep.”
Becky and Lana seemed to look a little better now in the light of day. They breathed a little easier. Randy still looked wide-eyed and scared.
“I’m gonna make some coffee,” Becky said as she made her way to the kitchen.
Lana walked over to Rob and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “My hero,” she said.
“Shucks, ma’am,” Rob reached for her and gave her a hug. “Mind helping me move the sofa back where it belongs?”
Lana nodded and they slid it back across the floor. She decided to take a seat and invited Randy to sit with her. “Come on, Randy. Nothing happened. Rob was right, we were all freaking out over nothing.”
“Yeah, dude,” Rob said, moving back toward the door, “you can calm down now. In fact, I think I’ll take a step outside and get some fresh air.”
Rob unlocked the door and turned the knob. He opened the door and looked out. It was then that the beast attacked.