4th Cousin Francis' Story

I'm the one who can remember how it all was happening.

Don't take off your shoes, I don't mind the dirt. Makes it feel a bit more like home, where we come from. So let me tell at you straight. This isn't anything like what happened four summers ago. I remember because it took three after that for Cousin Pat to pay off the bill. It's why Step-Cousin Ian didn't get to keep that plum job. Plus, Aunt Moon was there, back from whatever it is she deems fit to do up in the mountaintops.

Aunt Moon and I always go up to the cabin ahead of everyone else to get it ready for the family, but for the first time in awhile those two nincompoops came up to offer their "help". I won't mince words, it's infuriating having them dragging along my heels. They try to do everything before us, but always mess up. I show 'em every time what's wrong with their dang approach. Then for the rest of the time it ends up wrong and messed up.

Something probably would've happened earlier if they'd gone up on the drive with us. Pat's always getting too much attention. The kind of attention that goes to your head. Ian hasn't got anything better to do than pretend to be some cottage-mustache outdoorsman-type. Even after we all got up in there, I wasn't even gonna sleep in the same room as them. I'm already used to sleeping with odd posture, so I found a space.

Anyhow, I'm curled up underneath the grate table when I heard some kind of a sloshy-thumpy noise. Like someone was carrying a couple of buckets. Wet and thumpy. Got up as quietly as I could, checked on everyone. Didn't take long to figure it had to have come from outside.

As soon as I left the cabin, I heard some awful cackling and the dead-bolt click. I would've beat the door in to teach the punks a lesson but that's when I heard Aunt Moon yell out some awful hollering. I knew something was wrong because it came from the opposite direction of the outhouse. I chased after where I thought it might've been. It's a full moon, so I could see through the woodiness without too much trouble.

After a little ways of heading to that vicinity, I feel a heat creeping up my back. I turn around and everything's lit up. Everyone says to go into the light, right? So I head right back and I'll never forget it. Pouring up out of every window, sizzling and hissing with the cold melting all around it.

My cousins are no good, but they don't deserve to die. I checked and searched and looked but I didn't find them. So I had to run off and get help. You know, what else is there to do?

There are certain people I could name who don't think I tried to find a faster way to get home than a bus. But I have a bus pass, and I could hop on that line faster than it'd take to run the mile and a half and hope

So, that's my final truth.

Oh wait, yeah, one more thing. I heard that Aunt Moon fell out of a tree. Is that true? Is she okay?

Aunt Moon's Story

Excuse me, mister, you better be nice now and stop waving that shiny box everywhere. Keep still, can you please?

Alright, thanks a bunch, my insomnia gets triggered when I can’t see properly. Just like on that night…

Yeah, I recall it good enough. I wish it hadn’t been those knuckleheads that got burned so badly…

What happened to me on that day? Well, honestly, not much aside from that nightly mishap. I remember Francis meeting me in town and driving me to the shed he calls a living place, it was disgusting compared to the wonderful cottage I have in the mountains, just so you know. After we got to the ramshackle hut, we cleaned the place up, some from dirt and all that got in when no one was around, and some from the boys failing at trying to tidy up—nice as they are, they really do give Francis a headache, him always trying to do well.

Hm, I guess we didn’t spend much time doing anything else besides that, and we headed off to bed. Francis was downright insistent on sleeping in the main room, which is fine if that’s what makes him happy. But what really confused me was when he went outside and somehow locked the door behind him.

Oh dear, it was absolutely a mess after that… Pardon me if I have to gather my thoughts; some stuff can’t be clearly remembered about that night.

So we were all sleeping in one room, with me next to the window, and Pat and Ian on the other wall. Pat and Ian slept through the noise Francis made trying to go out, but I sat up straight and fast because I’ve always been a bit wary of the darke. I decided it wasn’t much to worry about since Francis always was one to enjoy the air, and I definitely wasn’t about to wake the boys up.

All of a sudden, I smelled smoke, like from a wood fire. Something like it’d come from a fireplace.

But there wasn’t no fireplace in the cabin, you see?

Ian shot up next, probably smelling the burning ash—he was trying to wake up Pat the next moment, but I didn’t stay to watch. It’s shameful for me to confess, but my instincts from years of living in wooden homes kicked in.

Then—Oh, I sound dizzy just thinking about it—I ran out the window! I slid the window open and then I leaped through it, almost losing my balance…

Oh, I’m barely remembering now, the craziest part of it all…I met a ghost!

I wasn’t shaken too badly by it since my great-aunt also had something of the sort, to see those things, and I was also scared to death. It was a green fella, wrapped in robes like some sort of monk, maybe a gardener of types. He held his hand out and smiled—it was more of a creepy smile now that I think about it, but I didn’t think twice about the offer.

“Take me away from here!” is what I cried out, I think, and then the floating robes flashed green a bit and everything disappeared around me. A moment later, everything popped back into vision.

So! Indeed I was in a tree! I tried to climb down like I was a little girl again, but I guess my weight isn’t what it used to be and the branch creaked and the tree bent, so I stayed in place for a while.

I don’t honestly know what happened that night…To me, it was a demon sent by God to tell us to stay away from that rundown hut, but Francis still grieves over it.

Cousin Pat's Story

Who's at the door? You can stop knocking, I'm already here. Yes, that's me. I'd rather not— Oh, I see. Come in, then. Be quiet, the neighbours underneath are pesky even when I don't have guests. Take a seat. I'll tell you what I can.

I arrived at the chalet not long before Ian. I think you've been there, you know how you have to make your way across those shrubs after you leave your car behind. It took me a few hours to find everything needed and find the cabin again. It was difficult to begin the preparations alone. That klutz was of little help, like usual, though the extra pair of hands did make everything go a bit smoother and luckily, he didn't mess up the candles. What Francis left was everything but instructions, as if we're not all going to take part in the same thing.

I might've made a few mistakes, but nothing that can't be fixed. Of course, cousin Francis found it appropriate to unravel the work we've done so far, and start again. In all that frantic cleaning, he even forgot the pots outside. Aunt Moon helped him too. I guess Ian was angered at how those two had little regard for what we've done so far, as I heard him stomping outside as he went to gather some firewood. Perhaps it reminded him of the plums.

I was shoved outside of the chalet as to not 'mess up' further, so I thought it'd be a good idea to oil and check the hinges and locks. They somehow weren't rusted, but Aunt Moon didn't seem to bat an eye. She's always bragging about the 'wonderful' shack she has somewhere in the eastward mountains. I wasn't to hear her complaining about the negligible amount of dirt there was on the chalet's floors, while ignoring the suspiciously perfect-kept doors.

I couldn't see Ian nearby while I was going about my business around the doors, though I could hear some of those awful big cats— lynxes, I think. All went smoothly around the cabin, and he was the only thing missing. Frances and Aunt Moon didn't seem to worry about that. Besides, Ian can take care of himself. Despite that, I stalled around, making sure to not leave the tallow buckets outside, as it got darker and darker. Finally, I went inside, not without leaving the kerosene lamp lit, next to the door, so that knucklehead could find his way to the cabin.

I tried to sleep after that, though Aunt Moon's figure, sitting up stiffly, looking out of the window kept me awake for a while. And I couldn't even sleep for a few hours, because I heard the window shatter. There was no one left in the room, only a scent of ember. I scurried out into the main room. More than half of it was ablaze, and I nearly entered the blaze in my hurry. I did what any other rational person would do, and hasted to jump out of the broken window next to Aunt Moon's bed.

I can't recall much after that. I think I might have hit my head after throwing myself carelessly through the broken glass. When I came back to my senses, the chalet was already ashes, and it was morning.

4th Cousin Francis(POV) - likes aunt moon and thinks cousins are up to no good

To Francis:

Aunt Moon - Beloved, vulnerable, dominant

Cousin Pat - Stupid, Reckless, vain

Step-Cousin Ian - Tough, brave, dim

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