"Stay back here behind this rock Tommy," whispered Lizzy. "We'll wait here a while and see which way they're going before we start following them again. What do you think they were looking at this time?" Asked Tommy. "Shucks I don't know. They have got to be the nosiest bunch of kids I'd ever seen. I don't know it they were looking at the cracks in the rock they were standing on or studying bugs," replied Lizzy.
"It sure is funny the way they dropped down to their knees and started clamoring around the rocks. Too bad this here waterfall is so noisy we couldn't hear what they was saying," remarked Tommy. "Well, maybe after they get out of sight a little we can sneak over there and see what all the fuss was about," replied Lizzy.
"You think we'll be able to sleep in that cabin tonight if them kids find it Lizzy? I hope so Tommy, it'll sure beat sleeping out here in the cold damp night. Come on I think we can sneak up to the rocks now and see what all the excitement was about,"
Mandy lead the way as the other two explorers followed her. The path was lined on both sides with tall grass that came up past their waste and it wound around reminding Mandy of the Corn Maze her and Austin had played in at Sage's Apple Farm last fall. The only good thing she thought was that the grass wasn't as high as the corn and she could see around the meadow fairly well.
A movement caught Mandy's eye suddenly, while she was looking back behind them. She looked again and didn't see anything. A slow chill climbed up the back of her spine. I know I saw something, she thought, but what was it, a deer, maybe a hawk swooping down after a quick meal? Should I ask Melissa and Austin? No, they weren't looking back like I was. No sense in scaring them, besides they'd think I was just trying to scare them.
A sharp loud call came from high above the children. Mandy looked up to see the Eagle still circling above them. A chill went down her spine again. Why's he following us? What's he trying to tell us wondered Mandy? She made a mental note to look back behind them once and while just to be on the safe side.
The path was nearing the other side of the meadow and approaching another dark wood line of large trees. Mandy put her hand up and the other two children stopped. "What's wrong Mandy? Asked Austin. "Nothing I think were near the cabin, that's all and I wanted to stop to think and get my bearings," replied Mandy. It was more difficult to remember the map than she thought and Mandy wished she had it now. Also she also wanted some time to study their back trail. Something her Dad had told her to always do.
Mandy and Austin's Dad had said many an explorer had gotten lost on the return trip because they forgot to study the trail they had just come up. Landmarks such as trees and rocks don't always look the same when coming from a different direction.
Mandy's hair on the back of her neck felt funny also and she wondered if the thought of seeing something earlier was still bothering her, or made her jumpy. It must be she thought if I'm thinking about it. It's nothing, she thought. We're safe on our farm far away from any danger, but still she knew she must pay more attention to what's around them.
"How much farther Mandy?" Asked Melissa. "I think the cabin is just over there in the trees," pointed Mandy as she replied to Melissa.
With Mandy leading the three adventurers headed for the dark grove of trees. "We have to go in there Mandy?" Asked Austin. "It's alright it's no different than the last bunch of trees we came through before the waterfall," Mandy replied. The path lead towards the woods and climbed up hill and just as they were nearing the wood line a roof began to take shape just above the grass line. "Look!" Cried Mandy as she started running to the crest of the hill. Melissa and Austin joined her seconds later at the top of the hill and there in front of them stood the lost cabin partitially hidden by the trees.
It truly indeed was the lost cabin and it was magnificent, albeit in need of major repair, but still very cool. The roof was dark gray and looked to be slate, which more than likely attributed to the fact that the cabin still existed after all these years. The walls were bleached light gray and made from round trees perfectly cut and linked together forming a small rectangular building. There was a porch across the front with a single door in the middle with two windows on either side.
The cabin sort of reminded her of a human skull the way the two black window openings stared back at them like haunted eyes. The door opening looked like a mouth because it hung open at an angle due to the top hinge being broken. The door lightly swung in the wind creaking adding to the already eerie feeling. "Mandy, are we going in there?" Asked Melissa. "Yea, Mandy," remarked Austin. "This was your idea to find this place after all you know.
Well we didn't come all this way to just look at the cabin," reminded Mandy. "Yea, but you didn't say anything about it looking haunted either," replied Austin. "Come on you two don't chicken out on me now," moaned Mandy. "We have to go in and check it out.
Ok, but you lead the way," stated Austin. "What happened to boys rule girls drool?" Asked Mandy. "You're older," replied Austin satisfied he'd protected his honor.
Mandy lead the way up to the front porch of the cabin and all three explorers stopped and stood next to each other staring into the dark opening beyond the door. Three spit logs served as steps leading up to the porch. The glass in the two front windows was missing broken out by wind storms or rocks thrown from who knows who. The door still swung slowly back in forth in the breeze on one remaining rusted hinge screeching with each movement.
"Ready on the count of three we all step up on the porch and walk through the door," ordered Mandy.
"One, two. Wait, wait a minute Mandy," yelled Austin. " Do we go on three or after three?" She thought for a second then said, "on three."
"One, two, three!" All three hand in hand started up the steps. The old wood porch groaned with each step taken. At the door opening the other two children's hands broke loose from Mandy's hands and before she realized she had stepped over the door threshold. Just then a huge brown object flew out screeching, just clearing the top of her head as it flew out into the forest.
Mandy screamed and ducked, so did Melissa, but Austin in his attempt to run backwards fell head over heals off the front porch onto the ground below and landed with his face in the dirt.
"Good Night! What was that thing? Is it gone?" Yelled Austin in a muffled voice as he lay on the ground with his face covered.
"It's ok Austin, it was just an Owl." replied Mandy. "You know, I'm getting tired of being the last one to see stuff and falling in the dirt," complained Austin as he rolled over and sat up on the ground.
"You sure did look funny sprawled out on the ground like that Austin," laughed Melissa. "Are you hurt anywhere?" She asked. "My head and backside hurt a little," replied Austin as he tried to rub each one at the same time with minimal luck.
"You know Austin I was sort of upset when Mom said you had to come along, but I'm glad you did because we would of missed all this fun of seeing you stumble and fall all the time," laughed Mandy.
"I'm glad you're enjoying the side show Sis, but you looked pretty silly a couple of times yourself ya know," taunted Austin. "Yea, your right this has been fun up until now that is," agreed Mandy.
"We still have to go inside this cabin and check it out," said Mandy. "Do we have to Mandy?" Asked Austin. "Who knows what else inside that thing," he continued.
"What do you think Melissa?" Asked Mandy. "Well, we've traveled all this way and came through some pretty scary places. We've spooked up a bird at the sugar bush a deer in the woods and now a monster owl screams at us and tries to take our heads off. We've lost our map and backpack. I think we've been through a lot and we owe it to ourselves to prove to ourselves and our parents we're not afraid to complete what we came out here to do and check out this cabin."
"Nice speech," stated Mandy. "Yea well I agree with Melissa," replied Austin. "This has been hard and I admit a minute ago I was ready to cut loose and run home, but Melissa makes it sound important, like we're real explorers. I vote we go in," stated Austin raising his hand in the air and stepping up to join the girls. "Well, Melissa that leaves it up to you and me. Do we go in?" Asked Mandy. "Yea. Yea, let's roll," replied Melissa. They took each other's hands and standing side by side took a deep breath and stepped through the door into a world they had never experienced before.