I felt my head jolt up with urgency as I barely stopped myself from nodding off at the wheel. As the small amount of adrenaline stung through my skin I gave myself a few light slaps to the face to assure I toughed out the remainder of our journey. My fiance (I’ll call him Tom) and I were on our seventeen into our drive to his family’s cabin in the backwoods by a lake, just a stone’s throw from Loch Ness, for a small vacation. I glanced over with heavy eyelids to see him fast asleep in the passenger seat.
The last two hours of the trip were spent through desolate back roads and towns that consisted of a hundred people and a lone stop-light. I could feel myself immersing into the solitude as the roads began to be labelled by numbers instead of names.
I turned onto the long stretch of road that wound through the forest and lead to their cabin. “In two miles your destination will be on the left” Siri spoke out to me, cutting into the silence. The car slowly trudged over the underdeveloped road as large chunks of gravel crunched and tumbled beneath the wheels while towering pine trees loomed above to block out the stars.
At last we had arrived and I was so exhausted that I considered just sleeping right there in the driveway. I had never been to this place before but it was very cozy at first glance. It’s not one of those decked out cabins that rich people buy but it had three bedrooms and sat on the shore of a small, 1100 acre lake. We quickly unloaded everything and collapsed onto a bed that smelled older than time. Though we were completely beat, we were excited to spend some time away from it all.
The sun lit up our room early the next morning and I was filled with a huge sense of relief when, out of routine, I checked my phone to see there was no service. Nobody could bother us if they tried.
Tom offered to drive to the nearest town to get groceries so I could settle in and check out the cabin. I rifled through hundreds of dusty books that sat on shelves in the living room and pulled out a dozen or so board games as I excitedly planned out our time ahead. I made my way outside and onto the dock that stretched out into the lake. A small boat rocked lightly in the water, and the dock creaked and groaned underneath my feet. I stared out at the lake and finally felt the last of my city-bred anxiety dissipate.
Since the drive to town was around a half hour, I thought that I would explore the lake shore. As I wandered along, a small island situated close to the middle of the lake, caught my eye. It was maybe a hundred yards in diameter and was filled with dense trees and shrubs. Something about it drew me its way. I can’t really describe it, but it was as if it were slowly drawing me towards it. For a few minutes – maybe more – I felt unable to take my eyes off the island. It had an almost eerie glow around it- as if somehow it wasn’t really in the same world as ours.
Later on over dinner, I casually brought up the subject of the island to Tom.
“I saw there is an island in the middle of this lake,” I said, casually, “Have you ever gone out to it?”
“What? You’re kidding, right?” he replied. “Aside from it being as spooky as hell, when we were kids, my dad always told us not to go there. Even now he says the land is still owned by the family of some woman who used to live there.”
“Oh my god! Someone used to live there? How?” I asked. “I mean, the place is literally cut off from everything.”
“I know, but he said that there was a woman who had a house there. She owned some bric-a-brac shop in town until she died. She’d have to row to the dock every morning to her car.”
“Must have been a pain in the ass to get groceries there” I said with a laugh. “How long ago was this?”
“I’m sure my dad said the old lady died about fifty years ago now.”
“Wow. And her family still own the land?”
“Apparently. My dad said the old lady was really creepy and that they’d sometimes catch her staring at them from the shore while they fished. I’m pretty sure none of that’s real though. I think he just told us those things to keep us from messing around over there and getting done for trespassing.” said Tom with a laugh.
The rest of the day was spent playing various board-games, reading, and just lounging around the cabin. However, each time I passed the living room window I felt that distinct feeling of being watched. Each time I would glance out to see that island looming in the distance. Curiosity was starting to nag at me. Especially now that I was told there was a house sitting by itself, probably untouched for decades.
A few days passed by and we spent our time doing more of the same. While relaxing like this was exactly what I needed, I couldn’t get my mind off of that island. Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided that once Tom fell asleep, I was going to row out there to check it out for myself. It probably was just some urban legend her dad had concocted to scare his kids. But part of me wanted it to be real.
I’ve never been a real girly-girl. Even when I was little, my mum used to say that if any of us were going to get into trouble or end up in some kind of accident, she was pretty sure it’d be me. I always longed for adventure and to go exploring, and now, I had the very opportunity to do both. I sat up in bed reading, waiting for Tom to fall asleep. He could fall asleep faster than anybody I had ever met and once he was asleep, he could sleep through a hurricane (actually, in 1987, he did!) I felt a bit bad doing this without telling him, but I knew he would only protest, and what was the point of causing an argument?
I grabbed my heavy duty flashlight, a hunting knife just in case, and of course, my phone to record anything noteworthy. Tom fell asleep within minutes of laying his head down and after waiting for maybe twenty minutes to be safe, I turned out the lights and quietly made my way out of the cabin.
It was dead quiet outside as I made my way down the dock. No frogs, crickets or anything made a sound. I pushed off the dock and rowed my way towards the island. So complete was the silence of the night that each dip of the oars into the water seemed to reverberate all around me. I was so anxious to see if Tom’s dad’s stories were true or just legend. Either way there was definitely something weird about this island and I desperately wanted to see for myself.
As I reached the shoreline, the moon was bright enough for me to see, so I scanned for any spots that were clear enough for me to set anchor. Finally, I spotted a stump jutting out from the land that was partially submerged. The boat slowly drifted towards it as I grabbed a hold and hoisted myself onto land. I tied the rope to the stump and after making sure it was secure, I clumsily stepped through the thick brush until I made my way onto what appeared to be a yard.
I switched on my flashlight to see a disheveled home sitting in the very middle of the island. It stood two stories with rotting walls and a caved in roof. “Oh my god” I thought to myself. “There really is a house here.” All of the windows were broken and the entirety of the house was suffocated by an overgrowth of ancient vines. The trees were so dense around it that it blacked out the sky above as this house stood, forgotten by time and slowly being reclaimed by nature.
I remembered to pull out my phone right then and there to capture anything I might find. I swept the beam of light over the house after I hit record and made my way towards it. My feet crunched on fallen dead branches and leaves and that sense of being watched returned to me with a vengeance. Still, I’d come this far and wasn’t going to turn back now.
In the beam of the flashlight, I saw that the front door sat slightly ajar. Turning the beam from right to left, it filtered through the openings where the windows used to be. It was quite eerie to say the least.
Stepping closer to the window, I realised that whoever had lived here really must have owned a bric-a-brac shop or something, because dozens of miscellaneous items were strewn across the floor, coated in years of thick dust. A box spring mattress looked as if it had been thrown across the room as it sat partially upright against a decaying wall. I put my weight into the door and it agonizingly creaked open, decades of neglect escaping in the dense and unforgiving air. I swept my phone all around, not wanting to miss out on recording all of these long forgotten memories.
Dozens of various trinkets, household tools, and ceramic animals covered the floors as I carefully stepped over the abandoned piles. I shifted the light to one corner of the room. My heart jumped as I saw, caught in the beam of light, a dozen or so baby dolls lying in a heap. The floor creaked and groaned as I made my way towards them. I know I came for exploration and adventure, but I was seriously starting to get the creeps. Some of the dolls were missing heads, while others had dirty and torn clothing on them.
The other downstairs rooms were just as cluttered and dirty, forgotten and abandoned. Mould and years of dust and cobwebs had taken over the dishes that sat in a cracked and broken Belfast sink, which seemed to skulk in the corner of what used to be the kitchen. In what once, perhaps, had been the dining room, piles of old newspapers and magazines, more ceramic animals – some smashed, some in tact – disemboweled teddy bears and smashed photo frames littered the floor. I picked up one of the newspapers and shone my light on it. The date at the top of the page read July 19, 1952.
Leaving the dining room, I shone my flashlight up the less-than-stable looking stairs. Ivy and vines snaked their way up the banister, wallpaper hung in pathetic swathes from the wall, while the stairs themselves were carpeted by at least a two-inch thick layer of dust. “Fortune favours the brave” I told myself, as I took my first tentative step up the creaking, groaning stairs.
The top of the stairs gave out onto a landing, with three doors leading off it. One door was directly in front of me, while the others were to my right and left. I tried the door ahead of me first. It opened onto what had once been the bathroom. A free-standing bath stood in the middle of the room, while a cracked and broken toilet lurked in the far corner. Other than that, and the now ubiquitous dirt and dust, there was nothing of interest.
Back on the landing, I looked at the two remaining doors. I decided to try the right one. There was nothing in this room at all. No furniture, no wallpaper, no carpets, nothing. Just an empty room with bare floorboards. In essence, that was creepier than the rest of the house, for obviously someone had thought to clear out this room completely, but left the remaining rooms to their clutter.
There was just one room left to try. I crossed the landing, put my hand on the handle, pushed open the door…and screamed. There, caught in the beam of my flashlight, was an albeit dusty, but pristine made bed. The pillows were propped up against the headboard, the blankets neat and folded back. What made me scream though, was what was in the bed. Placed in a sitting position and propped up against one of the pillows, beautifully clad in an Edwardian high-necked dress, was a life-sized porcelain doll, its arms over the blankets, head turned to the side, eyes fixed on the door. Its ruby red mouth was turned down in a kind of sad expression. For a moment I couldn’t move. Someone had deliberately placed this doll in the bed, deliberately turned its head towards the door. From the dust and cobwebs that clouded its face, I surmised that the doll had been sitting there for the past fifty years or so. Just waiting. Waiting for what, though.
I didn’t have much time to ponder that question, as downstairs, something or someone moved. Turning both the flashlight and my head, I looked down the staircase. I couldn’t see or hear anything, save for my own heartbeat pounding in my ears. Telling myself it must have been the wind, or a rat, or something just as innocuous, I shone my light back on the doll…and screamed again.
The doll was now smiling.
Copyright © 2019 Whispers Amongst The Corn