Kyle started down the slope toward the cabin. The sun sparkled in the distance. One thing that set Anna’s nerves on edge was the lack of any animal sounds. No birds, no squirrels, nothing.
Dead pine needles crunched with each step that she made down the path. The further they made their way through the darkening forest it grated on her nerves more.
“Kyle?” She lost sight of him for a moment as the darkness became too much.
“I’m right here. We should almost be there.” He grabbed her hand, squeezed it gently, and led her through the forest. Feeling his warmth brought butterflies to her stomach. The small thought of being with him still made things better than if she was alone.
Not wanting to lose the little girl, Anna reached back for her and found her groping around in the dark. With the girl nearby, they made their way through the trees.
An occasional growl stirred up Anna’s pulse, but they kept on through the dim light left of the day.
Just as the darkness settled in, they found the cabin. The windows were streaked with blood. The door remained shut and a few creature remains were strewn about the yard. Most with bullet holes directly through the forehead.
“Good shot.” Kyle said and a click of a trigger filled the silence. He froze and looked around at the dense clump of trees.
The girl dug her body in behind Anna’s knees almost causing her to tumble from her own fright.
“Speak.” The gruff voice said.
“My name is Kyle and this is my girlfriend Anna.” Kyle said raising his arms.
The sudden removal of Kyle’s hand brought about a chill that Anna didn’t expect. She didn’t raise her hands, but instead picked up the girl. “We’re looking for a safe place to stay.”
“We don’t want any trouble.” The man said.
A large figure stood up on the roof. His silhouette stood out against the sliver of moonlight. He had to be a large fellow, because he nearly blotted out the moon.
“We won’t be. We are tired and scared.” Anna said, her body quivering from the chill that ran through her.
“That’s going around isn’t it?” The man said a bit joyful. He banged on the roof and the door swung open. A large overweight woman waved them in.
Not waiting to be formally invited, Kyle led Anna and the girl inside. The warmth of the fire brought out a sheen of sweat the moment Anna entered. She lowered the girl and moved to the comforting fire. Her bones ached with coldness, which faded as she warmed.
She didn’t notice it, but the girl scooted up next to her and rubbed her hands together near the fire. “So warm.” She said. Her teeth chattered.
The woman sat in her recliner and smiled at them. “What brings you out to this part of the woods?”
“We got lost.” Kyle responded his knees cracking as he knelt by the fire.
The woman took a sip from her mug and smiled. “Must be far from home then. We don’t get many visitors.”
“There is no home anymore.” Anna said. The thought of her parents and her home tightened her chest and tears ran down her cheeks. She hadn’t really had time to mourn them and now that she felt safe she let the tears fall.
“You guys are welcome to stay as long as you need.” The woman picked up a book from the side table.
Kyle’s head dropped for a moment and he smiled. “I’m tired.”
“There is a spare room for you guys to bunk up.” She said.
Anna noticed the woman for the first time. Her red hair was tight in curls, a smirk rested on her lips like she knew something that she didn’t want to reveal. Her chubby fingers held the mug tightly around the handle. She reminded Anna of her grandmother.
Anna looked over at the girl and saw that she had curled up on the carpet like a cat and was fast asleep. She didn’t realize how tired she had become until she had a chance to rest.
“Don’t worry your safe here.” The woman’s voice buzzed in Anna’s head.
Exhaustion seeped into her bones and she fought to stay awake. Her mind raced with a weird fear. Something didn’t feel right. Her eyelids weighed a ton and her head bobbed. The last thing she remembered before falling asleep was the woman’s left hand was in a bandage. It could be from anything she thought as she dozed off.
What should Anna do?