The Cabin

Tim Ryan

Tim Ryan

Tim Ryan is a writer based in Calgary, Canada. He has published stories in The Write Launch, Prometheus Dreaming, Short Editions & Alberta Views. "Scottie" won Alberta Views 2017 short story prize and was a finalist for the 2018 AMPA Fiction award.

When not writing, Tim coaches his daughter's hockey team, does the dishes regularly, and tries not to get in people's way too much.

The Cabin

What was that? Honestly, this place.
My heart’s pounding and the quilts are on the floor now. Rob goes on and on about the sing-songs and berry-picking and horseshoes -- like the Waltons in some kind of weird Kumbaya resort or something. I’ve married into a mass delusion of paradise.

You can’t even drink the tap water. Instead, they throw a dozen old Clorox bottles in the back of a car and drive up to the community centre to fill them with water you can drink. Clorox of all things! It’s no wonder they go through so much beer.


Okay, calm down. Is something in here? Where’s my flashlight?

What the...?

How did a bat get in here? I thought they have radar or sonar or something so they don’t fly into things. Even the wildlife around here doesn't work!

And because I “get” to sleep in this cabin, and it’s the middle of the night, I suppose I’m supposed to deal with the thing? What if it flies at me and gets tangled in my hair? Would I have to cut off all my hair? If a bat is going to get caught in my hair, it’ll likely happen when the fool thing somehow gets trapped in a one-hundred-square-foot cabin with only two tiny windows and no telephone.

Better turn off the flashlight. I think the light attracts it.
And if I have to pee, I’ve got to go outside at night and across the stupid gravel road -- in my bare feet because I can’t look for my slippers if others are asleep -- to the main cottage, trying not to trip over the ridiculous pipe fence, or some kid’s toy on the lawn, all to use a bathroom that smells like the septic field behind this cabin. I’m dehydrating just to limit the number of midnight trips to a barely working toilet.

If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down.

Please. You can’t even put your paper in? Like the pipes will clog or the lake will run out of water or the world will end. A rhyme doesn’t make it all normal and sanitary and wonderful. It’s worse than camping.


It’s so dark in here you can't even see the corner of the bed. My knee’s still swollen from two nights ago. Thought I was going to need stitches and Rob complains about being woken. Like I get any sleep in here anyway what with the birch trees slapping against the side of this cabin, or some squirrel clattering across the roof at five in the morning sounding like dishes dropped on the kitchen floor.

Well, not the kitchen floor here. Filthy indoor-outdoor carpet and ants and the wall of windows that, for some reason, don't open so when it's eighty degrees and sunny outside, it’s a hundred and ten in the kitchen. No air conditioning, one fan for the whole place. And they make jam or soup or spaghetti sauce or a giant roast the middle of the summer! Three refrigerators in the kitchen, but two don't work so they store soup and beans in them. Plus, it feels like the whole kitchen is falling off the end of the building. Who puts a water heater in the middle of a kitchen?

How'd that bat even get in here? The windows have screens. The door is shut. Is there a hole in the roof or something? I mean, how--?


And now the loon. I’m supposed to get all puddle-eyed at the thing’s cry -- how harmonic, how Canadian -- how annoying! The thing calls for an hour in the middle of the night, waking me and I can't get back to sleep when it’s finished because next come the mosquitos. In the dark, you know they're right by your ear, but good luck swatting them. Meeeeeeeee. God! I hate that sound. If I turn on the light to try and find the thing, I hear groans. Rob even tried to convince me that it's all just part of the place’s charm.

Charm, eh? An old wooden cabin that’s falling slowly into the forest? A deer fly bite? Finding the salt shaker to kill a leech latched onto your thigh? Give me a motel with a hot shower and a shopping mall nearby -- and no bats.
Speaking of which, where’d it go?

There! Perched on that piece of driftwood. The Doctor drags the stuff up from the beach after he swims, tacks it to the wall, writes “Leaping Fox” or something under it and everyone around here thinks it’s folk art.

The thing’s looking at me. I can feel it. It knows it’s not alone in here. It’s likely about to panic, then it’ll start flying around again. It’ll get disoriented, fly into my headboard, stun itself and land beside me or on me or get tangled up in the sheets and then I’ve got a half-dead bat in my bed, touching my skin, jaw moving as it breathes, little fangs looking for something to latch onto.

And now, of course, I do have to pee. It’s not enough that I have to be as still as possible to avoid a wild animal, now I’ve gotta go and lying on my back isn’t exactly helping the situation. Meeeeee. Oh, for crying out loud! Stuck in a shed with a bat I can see, a mosquito I can’t, betrayed by my bladder. What else could --?


That’s it. I’m outta here.

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