Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Zanter Kaluzen (Part 3)

Stranded in a cabin deep in a Minnesota wood, a woman and her two children face an uncertain Christmas. With their supplies dwindling she began to pray that they would survive to see the new year. Then he appeared, a strange man lurking in the shadows of the snow covered firs. How long would he watch them before making his move?

The story begins HERE

Was this to be her day of reckoning? Was this her punishment for not trying to mend the relationship with her mother? Wasn't it her mother who had driven the wedge between them? Wasn't it her mother who'd walked out the door and never looked back?

... And surely God would not want her children to suffer! They were so young and so innocent. Why should the kids be punished? They had nothing to do with her relationship with her mother. They hadn't even been conceived.

Her mother had disapproved of the young man to whom she'd become engaged. She'd told her that she could not marry him because she was Christian and that he was a Jew! Defiantly Marilee had said to her mother, "For God's sake, mom. It's the twentieth century. That kind of thinking went out with the horse and buggy!"

Her mother had never laid a hand on her until that moment. The resounding slap across her face was painless compared to her mother's retort the day before her wedding, "I am not your mother! I have no daughter!"

The tears on her cheeks felt as if they were going to freeze. What had she been thinking? Her mother had had some nerve expecting her to drop everything, to hop on an airplane and to visit her in the middle of nowhere! Yet, there she and her children were - trapped in a snowbank in the middle of that nowhere. Another stream of tears formed as she realized the irony that her mother would soon have no daughter.

She felt warmth? Was that the last thing one felt before dying? She dared to open her eyes to see if there really was a light into which she would pass into an afterlife. There, to her right was a light! It was almost blinding!

She brushed away the snow covering her body. Strange, she thought, that it wasn't cold but was warm and it felt like down. She arose and took tentative steps in the direction of the light that beckoned her. She pulled aside the gossamer webbing before the portal.

She gasped! Someone on the other side was looking back at her. The kind face was old and was framed by long grayish white hair and whiskers. She could sense goodness in the countenance of the man. She began to tremble. Was she looking upon the face of God?

She blinked only once, but in that trice he was gone. She reached out to allow her hand to be bathed in the light. Unexpectedly, there was resistance as her fingers came in contact with some cold barrier. Confused, she backed away. It was glass, the glass of a window and the webbing was curtains!

Half giggling, half sobbing she realized that she wasn't dead. She was alive! Spinning around she gazed upon the four-poster bed in which she'd been lying. Pushed aside, atop the bed was a white down comforter. Her surroundings began to come into focus and to register. She was surrounded by paneled walls and above her was a high cathedral ceiling.

A sense of loneliness came over her. Where were the kids? At the very same instant that she thought of her children, Rebecca and Jon, she could hear their voices calling her from beyond the closed door at the far side of the room.

"Mommy! Mommy! Come and see!" they shouted in unison.

She raced across the room and bolted through the door. Throwing her arms around them, she swept them from the floor and squeezed them in a long embrace. Despite her efforts to hold them and not let go of them, the two of them managed to wrestle free of her arms.

"Mommy!" Jon shrieked, "Look at our Christmas tree!"

In the corner to her left stood a seven-foot fir tree. There were a few ornaments dangling from the lowermost branches obviously taken form the several open boxes which were lined against the wall next to the tree. From the smiles on their faces there was no doubt that they had been busy trying to decorate the tree.

She didn't want to ruin their fun, but they didn't belong there in some stranger's house. They were trespassing. She didn't know how they got there, but she knew they couldn't stay.

"Rebecca, Jon, find your shoes and coats," she barked at them. When they made no move she raised her voice, "Hurry, we have to leave this place!"

"But, mommy," Rebecca whimpered, "grandma invited us to come here. Why can't we stay?"

Little Jon grabbed a piece of paper from a table and waved it about, "She left us a note. She said we should decorate the Christmas tree."

She took the note from her son and studied the handwritten lines upon it. It was her mother's penmanship, of that there was no doubt. She moved to the table and picked up one of several envelopes neatly arranged next to a small lamp. It was a utility bill. The addressee, visible through the envelope's window was that of Ms Norma Jorgensen, her mother.

She backed into an armchair near the fireplace and looked upon the burning logs neatly stacked within the hearth. An uneasy sense of security comforted her for a few minutes. Her mind was racing a mile a minute. How had they escaped from the snowbound vehicle? How had they climbed out of that ravine? How had they found their way to the safety of that cabin? What were the chances that they would happen to stumble upon her mother's home?

Her thoughts were interrupted by Jon. "Mommy, aren't you going read your note?"

Shaken from her silent reverie she reached for the piece of paper her young son was handing to her. The note, dated two days earlier, had also been written by her mother.

You will probably reach the cabin and read this before I make it back. I drove into New Ulm for some supplies and a few things for the kids. The weather report is calling for a nasty blizzard in these parts.

You will need to go to the shed out back to get some firewood for the fireplace. It gets very cold here in the winter. Be careful when you go outside. There are wolves out there in those woods.

Keep the door locked at all times. There is a nasty old recluse who lives somewhere out there in the woods. He has been known to break into the cabins in the area. Don't wander far from the house. He thinks the woods belong to him and doesn't like anyone to be on his land.

If the storm is as bad as predicted, I might not be able to make it home right away. If that happens I'll be staying at a friend's house in town until the weather clears. In any event, I should be there by the afternoon of the twenty-fourth at the latest.

Trembling, she stood up and shuffled across the room to the large door. Beyond that door she knew there was a landscape full of snow. She was overcome with a sense of dread wondering what else might be out there.

It was clear that her mother had not rescued them. That left the burning question, who then was it who'd managed to get them to the safety of the cabin? She glanced back at the fireplace. Who was it who'd had gathered the wood and had started the fire?

She folded her arms across her chest and clutched at her shoulders. That man, the face she'd seen through the window - was he the recluse her mother had mentioned? Had he pulled them from the rental vehicle? Had he brought them there to the cabin?

She pulled open the door and gazed upon a world covered in deep white drifts. A swirling wind carrying particles of the snow assailed her the moment the door swung open. She studied the scene before her. The path, such as it was, appeared virginal. She could detect no tracks or footprints. Of course, she reasoned, had there been any, the wind-driven snow would have covered up any traces in mere minutes.

She studied the tree line several hundred feet from the cabin. A stand of evergreens stretched in both directions as far she could see. She thought she caught sight of something moving behind one of the fir trees. She strained her eyes and stared at the spot. A figure in a long flowing coat turned and moved deeper into the wood.

She slammed the door shut and fumbled with the dead bolt. My God, she thought, he's watching us!

( To be continued ...) Part 4



Sandee said...

I don't think they have anything to worry about. I think they have a guardian angel watching over them. Just a feeling.

It will be interesting to see the interaction between mother and daughter. Why the change of heart for the mother? That's my burning question.

Have a terrific day. :)

Jack K. said...

I agree with Sandee.

Their guardian angel is probably the recluse.

Perhaps Mom is having some serious health issues.

Perhaps Mom is realizing the need to keep contact with family.


Hale McKay said...


A guardian angel? Hmmmm ....

It should be interesting when mother & daughter get together.

Hale McKay said...


Michael Landon is not walking through that door ...