It was such a nasty night that Rebecca was glad to be in her cozy little cabin, snug before the fireplace. As she sat drinking her hot chocolate and reflecting on her life, she listened to the chill autumn wind that accompanied the heavy rain and the booming thunder that rolled in on the tail of the flashes of lightning. It was good to get away from all the noise and rush of the city.
Rebecca had long wanted a place to be by herself. She had been looking for a cabin or cottage away from the rush of the modern world, but not too far. When she read the ad for this place, only an hour's drive from the city, she knew she'd found her spot. It seemed to speak to her when she viewed it and she had to take it. The central part was the original one room cabin built in the 1850s. At twenty feet by thirty feet, it was a good size, all-purpose great room. The original stone fireplaces, one at each end, were still intact and usable. The one had originally been meant for cooking. It certainly wasn't used that way anymore but was situated between the kitchen and eating area. To one side of that central fireplace, toward the front of the house, were the kitchen cabinets. The table and chairs were on the other so that one could enjoy the view through the large rear facing window. There was a door in the wall on that side of the fireplace. It lead to her bedroom which ran the width of the house. It was an addition added around 1900. A similar addition was added at the other end of the cabin at that time, but as two rooms, with doors on either side of the living area fireplace. Although Rebecca wanted isolation, she did like comfort and was glad a previous owner had added an ensuite bath to the large bedroom and a second bath between the two smaller bedrooms with access from each, along with modern kitchen facilities. Two porches had been added at the time of the additions. The front one was covered and ran the full thirty foot length of the original cabin with the front door in the center. The rear porch, accessed from the centrally located door on the back of the cabin was smaller and enclosed. Rebecca was unsure how it was originally used, but at the time the modern touches were added, it was made into a utility room. There was a water heater and closet on one side and a washer and dryer on the other. A door at the back to the outdoors lined up with the door from the great room.The house had it's own propane fueled generator to back up the power. Back in the city, Rebecca still lived in the tiny bachelor apartment she'd rented when she first arrived, fresh from college. It had only ever been a place to stay in her mind. This cabin was home.
Her life in the city wasn't bad but, ironically, she felt lonelier there amongst all the people and rush than she felt here by herself. She had been coming here a couple weekends a month since she bought the place in the spring. Now she had three weeks off and was going to do some serious thinking. She would really like to change things so that she only had to go into the city a couple of times a month for a few days at a time and worked from here the rest of the time. Little by little, over the months, she had made the front small bedroom into an office. Although there was no phone line to the cabin, she had checked into getting one installed and it was possible. Her cell phone was sufficient for now but with a phone line she could have internet access which would make working from here more feasible. As a designer for a children's wear company, much of her work was done alone. She was trying to be sure she had all angles covered before pitching her plan to her boss. Besides being hooked up by phone and internet, the nearest town, sixteen miles away, had a post office so that she could send in her originals. Although a rather small town, it also had an outlet for a courier service, grocery store, theatre, some interesting little shops and, most important, pizza!
She was startled by what sounded like a loud noise to the front of the house. It was so loud, she wondered if there had been a very close strike of lightning. She felt drawn to the front door. She opened the main door to look out through the screen door. Lightning flashed and, in the brightness, she was shocked to see the silhouette of a man on the path to her door. He collapsed before her eyes. She stared in that direction till startled by the clap of thunder. Who was he? And what was she to do?
Well I can't just leave him there! she thought to herself. Rebecca quickly kicked off her slippers for boots, grabbed her coat and a flashlight from the small closet next to the door, and rushed down to the man. He wasn't moving. Rebecca wondered if he'd been in an accident out on the highway and had come looking for help. She knelt down beside him. She shone the flashlight on the man. She didn't see any blood or scrapes or obvious injuries and, thank goodness, he was breathing fine. She shivered in the cold rain. She would have to get him into the cabin, but how? He was too big for her to manage alone. He'd have to wake. She tried to gently shake him.
"Mister! Sir! We need to get you out of the rain," she said loudly, shaking his shoulder with a bit more vigour. She was startled at how quickly his eyes opened. She was staring into very dark eyes; very bloodshot eyes. Oh, she thought, I hope he's not a drunk!
"We need to get you inside, sir," she told him, trying to tug him into a standing position. "Are you injured? Can you stand?"
He closed his eyes and seemed to give himself a shake. When he opened them again he shook off her hand and spoke, "Who are you?" as he struggled to stand.
Although he had rejected her offer of assistance, he looked awfully unsteady to Rebecca so she stationed herself up close to his side and pulled his arm across her shoulder. For once, being sturdy was an advantage.
"Don't put on a macho show," she chided. "You obviously need help." She was relieved to find no smell of alcohol about him.
He muttered something that might have been 'dang' if not something a little stronger. When he seemed to fall to the other side, Rebecca tightened her hold.
"I'm just trying to get my saddle and gear," he said tersely.
"Oh," said Rebecca. Saddle?
"You were out on a horse in this weather?" she asked incredulously.
There was that muttered word again.
"What is it?" she asked before she realized he was having trouble lifting his things. "Why don't we get you in the cabin? I can come back for your stuff."
He hoisted up the bags but reluctantly gave up trying to lift the saddle. He doubted very much that she would be able to carry it in but it wouldn't go anywhere before he could come back out for it. "OK," he agreed.
She shone that strange lantern of hers in front of them as she helped him to the porch. Porch? Where did that come from? he thought. He was sure he'd been only yards from his cabin before he had collapsed from exhaustion. Where am I? How did I get here? Who is she? The questions swirled in his aching head.
When they entered the house, Rebecca said, "You can use the spare bedroom" as she lead him to a door on the left wall past the fireplace. She turned on the ceiling light as they entered and saw him close his eyes and groan. Perhaps that's too much light, she thought belatedly. At the foot of the bed she transferred his hand from her shoulder to the bedpost. She went to the head of the bed and turned on a lamp on the nighttable next to the bed and went back to shut the ceiling light. She felt self-conscious under the man's intense stare. She walked to the door to the bathroom and opened it.
"Here's the bathroom," she said. "You never did say whether you were injured."
"Just tired, very tired," he responded.
"Alright," said Rebecca. "I'll just leave you to settle into bed then. If you need any help just call for me."
"I don't need help," he said curtly.
"Fine. Good night," said Rebecca as she left the room closing the door behind her and doing some muttering about men as she went.
Standing with one hand still on to the bedpost, he wiped his face with his free hand. Where the heck am I? he thought to himself. He thought he'd been to some weird places but this beat them all. He had noticed the fireplace as they passed it. He'd swear it was the one his father had built in the cabin where he'd lived all his life, the same cabin he was sure had been just in front of him before he'd collapsed. How could there be another the same?
He took off his wet coat and hung it over a nearby chair and was surprised at how weak he felt. What had happened? He was sure he thought he knew all about tired but this was beyond his experience. Keeping one hand on the bed post as much as possible, he managed to get out of all his wet clothes. I shouldn't leave them there on the floor he thought to himself but just couldn't summon the energy to do anything about them. Leaning on the bed for support he worked his way along the side, drew back the blankets and crawled in. He had several questions floating in his head. How'd she make the room as bright as midday by just touching the wall? How was the room warm with no fire? A room to bathe? Who is she? She was rather pretty even with her hair plastered to her head by the rain and wearing men's clothes was his last thought before sleep overtook him.
Who is he? thought Rebecca. She had been shocked to find a rifle with the saddle when she went out to retrieve it. She left them on the front porch covered by a tarp. Maybe he's one of those people that take part in historical reenactments. She noticed that there was no longer any sound coming from the bedroom. Well, except for some snoring. She smiled. She thought she'd better check on him just to be sure he was okay, so opened the bedroom door and looked in. She noticed the pile of clothes on the floor. They'll never dry out like that, she thought to herself. She quietly entered the room to get his clothes. Standing next to the bed, she couldn't keep from taking a good look at him. Despite the whiskered chin, he looked almost boyish sleeping. Well, not boyish exactly. An air of innocence, harmlessness? That was more like it. Of course, she knew that certainly couldn't be applied to the man as he was earlier. It was a very handsome face though. Her hand went to his forehead, touching it lightly. Just checking for fever she told herself. She pulled her hand back and took one last long look before shutting the bedside lamp. By the light spilling in the open doorway, she put his boots near the baseboard heater and then gathered the clothes and left.
In the utility room, she took a good look at the clothes. There was a pair of heavy wool socks, an all-in-one piece long underwear, button fly jeans, and a heavy plaid flannel shirt. She thought of washing the clothes but couldn't find any labels with washing instructions. Once again she wondered if he'd been in a reenactment. Wouldn't he change out of his costume before he left? He hadn't answered her question about the horse. He could have had his car break down out on the highway and not wanted to leave the saddle in an abandoned car. He probably headed in her direction because he saw the smoke from her chimney. That seemed to fit everything together quite well she thought. Except for the extreme fatigue. It was several miles to the main highway and he'd have been walking in the terrible storm. Still he looked as if he hadn't slept in days and was so weak. And here she thought she had had it all worked out. Questions would have to wait for answers till morning. In the end, she washed the clothes on the gentle cycle with cold water and hung them to dry on a small wooden drying rack. She thought of sleeping on the couch in case he called for her aid in the night but was sure he'd sleep so went to her own room leaving the door to the main room slightly ajar.
Rebecca awoke to sun pouring into her room through the large window that faced the back of the property. The storm had definitely passed. She got out of bed and put on her robe and slippers. She went to get the clothes from the utility room and found they were still damp. He'd been so exhausted maybe he'd sleep a while yet so she left the clothes and went to check on him.
She heard more of that suspicious muttering through the door. He was awake. She rapped on the door and called, "Hello?" She tried a couple of times with no response. She slowly opened the door and stared at the most beautiful backside she had ever seen! He was kneeling by the bed looking under it, completely naked. She thought she should probably quietly just back out of the room but he obviously needed some help.
"Excuse me," said Rebecca. "May I help you?"
He raised his head and looked over his shoulder at her. "I was looking for a chamber pot," he said through gritted teeth.
"Why?" asked Rebecca without thinking.
He glared at her. "Oh!" she exclaimed.
"The b-b-bathroom," she stammered pointing to the bathroom door.
He stood and, keeping his back to her, made his way to the bathroom. She sure was an unusual woman, he thought. He was sure that she was affected by his lack of clothes but she didn't leave. For just a moment he had been tempted to turn and see if that sent her scurrying. She looked kind of cute in her robe with pink fur on her feet, stammering and stuttering. Pink fur? He stared into the 'bathroom.' What an odd place! He went in and closed the door. There was no chamber pot but he was pretty sure he figured out what to do. He took one of the towels that was hanging on the wall and wrapped it around his hips before going back into the bedroom.
"Um, you didn't flush," she said, blushing. "The plumbing is functional."
He just stared at her. She went into the bathroom and he saw her push the handle behind the thing he'd used and now wondered if he should have. He heard the sound of rushing water and lifted the lid she had closed to see the water get pulled out and then refill. This place was full of unusual things. But he could tell by her attitude that she considered these things ordinary so he'd keep his curiosity to himself. Where am I? he wondered. He watched as she turned knobs and water came from a spigot to wash her hands.
"I took your wet clothes and washed them last night," she said. "They were still damp but I'll get them for you."
"I have a change of clothes my saddle bags," he said.
"Then why weren't you dressed?" she asked.
"I had a more urgent concern," he said. "And I was alone."
"Well, yes," replied Rebecca. "I'll go make breakfast so you can get dressed."
"Before you go, I have a question," he said.
"What is it?" she asked.
"What is your name?" he asked with a smile.
"Rebecca," she replied.
"Hello, Rebecca," he said with that same charming smile. "I'm David."
"Hello David," responded Rebecca before leaving the room slightly dazed.
Rebecca leaned on the door she just closed for a minute to collect herself. What a smile! she thought to herself. It had made her feel strange. I'm too old for infatuation she told herself. David. It was a good name she decided. She smiled at herself and went to fix breakfast.
He looked like a bacon-and-eggs type she decided as she turned on the radio. She readied the bacon for the microwave between paper towels on a plate and listened to the news. When they started to talk of last night's storm, she turned the volume up to find out what they had to say. The storm it seemed was worse than she had thought.
"Power and cleanup crews began early this morning but it could be a few days until everything is returned to normal."
While she still had power, the access road up the hill to her cabin was among those reported blocked. She knew it wouldn't be a high priority as it only lead to a few homes. Her guest wouldn't be able to go anywhere anytime soon.
"There were reports of very unusual lightning on Myers' Hill. The weather service has been unable to categorize the activity. A few residents reported seeing strange phenomenon."
Maybe he's an alien, thought Rebecca, grinning as she shut off the radio. One whose data is very out of date if he was trying to dress to fit in. She nearly giggled aloud at her thoughts before realizing she still knew absolutely nothing about him. Well, that wasn't completely true. She knew his name was David; he had a handsome face and a great body. Whoa! thought Rebecca as she tried to halt her thoughts from travelling down that road.
She'd broken four eggs and was scrambling them in a small bowl to go in the microwave after the bacon. She filled the kettle and plugged it in to the wall outlet.
David came out of the bedroom dressed in jeans and a dark blue flannel shirt. Although it was a shame he had to cover his gorgeous body (now where did that thought came from? she wondered), she had to admit he still looked mighty good.
"Have a seat," she said, pointing toward the table and chairs. "Here's some OJ to start with."
"OJ?" he asked as she placed a glass tumbler on the table.
"Orange juice," she said as the whistle went on the kettle and she went to unplug it.
He watched her as she made tea .He sipped the icy cold 'OJ.' He knew she was making tea but how the water got steaming hot with no stove or fire he didn't understand at all. She took a plate that looked to be covered with small square cloths and put it in something she opened the door on. Before long he could smell bacon cooking although he saw no skillet on anything close to a stove.
Rebecca took the teapot and two mugs over to the table. "If you are a tea drinker you are in luck. If you are a coffee drinker, on the other hand, I'm afraid your luck isn't so good," she said almost apologetically. "I'm the only one to ever come here so I only stock the things I like."
Before he got to say anything, a little bell sounded.
"Bacon's done," said Rebecca. She went and took the cloth covered plate from the place she'd put it. She then put a small bowl in to that contraption.
"Do you like your toast light or dark?" she asked him holding two thin slices of bread he saw her remove from a bag, over a square metal thing.
Before he could answer that little bell sounded again. She removed the bowl, stirred it with a fork and put it back in. Without repeating her question she picked up the bread and dropped it into slots on the metal thing. There was that bell again. Out came that bowl. Then the metal thing made a noise and up popped the bread half out of it, toasted. Rebecca grabbed them and put them on a board. She spread what he thought must be butter on them. With quiet efficiency she took strips of bacon from under the cloths on the one plate and divided them between two new plates. She added what looked like scrambled eggs from the bowl to the two plates and a slice of the toasted bread to each plate then turned to take the two plates to the table.
"Sorry!" she said as she brought the plates over to the table. "I think I went on automatic pilot there and just realized you never said how you liked your toast."
"I'm sure it's fine," he said.
She placed a plate, with larger portions he noted, in front of him and the other across from him where she took a seat.
"If there's anything you need just let me know," Rebecca said to David.
He smiled. "It looks good, ma'am," he said. "I think all I need is information."
"We do need to talk," agreed Rebecca. "I brought your saddle and rifle up onto the porch last night."
"Thank you, ma'am," said David. "I thought I heard a man in here earlier. Was he a neighbour?"
"A man?" puzzled Rebecca before realizing he must have heard the radio. "Oh, you must have heard the radio. I wanted to see if I could get news on the storm. You never did say last night how you got here. Did you leave your car on the highway?"
He had no idea what she was talking about. He certainly didn't have any answers. He not only had no idea how he had gotten here, he didn't even know where 'here' was!
"Oh gosh, I haven't even asked how you are today," said Rebecca.
There was something he could respond to, thought David. "I've been better."
"Oh my," said Rebecca.
"I'm sure I'll be fine," he said. He felt a little guilty seeing the worried look on her face.
"When the drums in my head stop pounding," he added with a smile.
"Oh gosh, I hope you don't have a concussion! The road to town is blocked by fallen tree limbs and we might not be able to get out for a couple of days. Since I don't know you it's kind of hard for me to tell if you are confused or not."
David was smart enough to grab opportunities when he saw them. "As I said, I'm sure I'll be fine, but some things are fuzzy. Where am I?"
"This area is known as Myers' Hill," she said. "This cabin is set quite a ways back from the county road."
Myers' Hill, now that sure was familiar, thought David. "The storm was pretty bad," he said.
"It sure was," said Rebecca. "The weather service isn't quite sure exactly what to call it. But they interviewed an elderly local man on the radio who said his grandfather told him stories of a very strange storm in the area over a hundred years ago. The man that lived up here disappeared during it."
David nearly dropped his fork. "Did he say who that was?"
"I'm not sure," answered Rebecca. "I only caught that he was the son of the original settler, Jacob Myers."
Rebecca noticed a pained expression on David's face. "I'll just get you that ibuprofen." she said getting up thinking it was caused by his headache.
In truth, it was her revelation that had pained him. Things swirled in his head - over a hundred years ago ... disappeared ... son of the original settler. So it wasn't 'where am I?' but 'when am I?' that he needed to figure out. He shook his head to clear it of the ridiculous idea but regretted the motion when the pain in his temples intensified.
"Here," said Rebecca, appearing at his side. "Take these."
She had a couple of little oval pills in her one hand and a glass of water in the other. At his look, she asked, "Do you have trouble swallowing pills? These usually go down pretty easy with a swallow of water."
He followed her instructions and swallowed the pills.
"Since you've finished your breakfast, why don't you lie down and give the pills a chance to work," suggested Rebecca.
Still stunned by what he thought had happened, David silently stood and went back to the room he had slept in.
Rebecca watched him worriedly. All she knew was that something sure wasn't right.
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