Monday, December 27, 2010

Zanter Klauzen (Part 5)

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

Norma Jorgensen looked up at the sky. She didn't need to see the ominous clouds looming in the northern sky to know that a powerful winter storm was on the way. She didn't need to look at a barometer to know that there was a significant change of atmospheric pressure. To the contrary, she could feel it in her joints.

Her daughter used to laugh at her when she made her weather forecasts based solely on her aches and pains. Marilee would never comment when her weather predictions were accurate. On the other hand, she would be quick to cite any that proved to be incorrect.

She felt her heart flutter and she smiled. It would be good to see her daughter and her two adorable grandchildren. Her smile waned and she felt a tear forming in the corner of her eye. Why had she waited so long to contact her?

She wasn't sure if Marilee would come. Her daughter would've been justified to have ignored her letter and tossed it in the trash. What right had she, as a mother who'd abandoned her daughter, to expect her to come running to her? Had the roles been reversed, she was certain that she herself would not have made the trek.

She wiped away the single tear trickling down her cheek. Because she'd virtually used them up years ago, her present day tears were precious and few. The burden of her past actions and stubborn convictions weighed heavily upon her heart. It was she who'd driven away everyone she'd ever loved and as such, everyone who might have loved her in return.

She would never be able to undo the great wrong she'd done to her late husband, but perhaps there was a chance that she could make things right with her daughter. Although there was a chance her attempts of atonement would be rejected, she knew she had to try.

By the time she had loaded the bundles of groceries into her truck, the first of the snow had begun to fall. She grimaced and rubbed her shoulder. As usual, she and the weatherman were in accord. She had one more stop to make, a visit to the mall to buy some gifts for the children, before she could head home.
Zanter Klauzen trudged through the deep snow ahead of the two men. They displayed little regard for him, despite the fact that no one knew these wood better than he. It was obvious to him that they were part of the younger generation who had no respect for the elderly.

"It's not much further," he grumbled over his shoulder. "The cabin is in the clearing behind that stand of firs."

When they reached the small clearing, they moved hurriedly past him. One of them pushed aside a snow-laden branch which sprung back at him. A spray of snow flew into his face. He shook the snow from his long gray whiskers but no gesture of apology was forthcoming. Without even a cursory nod of gratitude, they left him standing amid the low branches of the tall evergreen.

"Harrumph!" he muttered. "I got you here. Let's see you find your way out of these woods without me."

He turned and retraced the footprints they'd left in the snow. He shook his head and mumbled some obscenities. He'd tried to tell them that Norma would have never had any interest in selling the place. They didn't want to hear it.

Marilee had been looking out the window when the two men emerged from the woods. What were they doing out here and on foot? She was filled with a sudden and great fear.

It had been two days since she last seen the old man. Although he'd shown no signs of aggression she'd been uneasy over his presence just the same. These two men, however, she feared were much more of a threat to her and her children.

Jon and Rebecca were too preoccupied with their crayons and coloring books to notice that their mother was keeping at an uneasy vigil at the window. Had they looked up, they would have seen her rocking back and forth on her heels.

She was greatly relieved to get away from the mall. The place had been crawling with people, all last-minute shoppers like herself. She hated crowds. It was the reason that she had moved to Minnesota and had bought the little cabin in the woods in the first place.

In the wind-swept snow the visibility was reduced to little more than a hundred yards. She could just barely make out the exit sign from the parking lot onto the road that would take her home.

She started the truck and waited for the interior of the cab to heat up before shifting into drive. Although her body shivered from the frigid temperature, she basked in the warmness that had been glowing within her heart.

From a payphone in the mall she had called the airline and a kind young woman had confirmed to her that the parties had indeed boarded the plane. According to the woman the plane was due to land before the storm arrived. They were probably already at the cabin, she thought.

The men were getting closer. Panic was beginning to set in but she knew she had to stay calm. She and her children were alone and defenseless against the two men.

"Rebecca! Jon!" she called out to them. "I want you to show me that hiding place you found in the closet."

"What's wrong, mommy?" Rebecca asked dropping her box of crayons onto the floor. She then went to her knees in an attempt to gather the wax implements.

"Leave them!" Marilee screeched.

Jon began to cry and whimpered, "Mommy, I'm scared. Why do we have to hide?"

"Hurry! Please hurry," she cried. "it's not safe!"

She followed the kids into the smaller of the bedrooms. Rebecca opened the closet door and allowed Jon to enter ahead of her. At the back of the closet Jon pushed his hands against a section of paneling. It swung aside to reveal a space nearly as large as the interior of the closet itself.

Once the panel was closed behind them she sat down on the floor and huddled the kids in the crooks of her arms. She didn't know why there would be a secret hiding place in her mother's cabin, but she was grateful that her curious children had somehow discovered it.

"Shh," she shushed them, "be very, very quiet. Maybe they'll go away."

She tensed when she heard the rattle of the front door. Rebecca and Jon were trembling when there was a series of forceful bangs upon the door. She relaxed when several minutes passed without a sound emanating from beyond their dark sanctuary. Then there was the sound of breaking glass.

She tightened her embrace on the kids and uttered, "My God, they've broken the window! They are coming in through the window!"

( To be continued ... Part 6 )



Hale McKay said...

This story was originally planned to be posted in its entirety by Christmas Eve. Obviously, that never happened.

Also, I had planned to have the next segment of "Butterfly Dreams" posted by now also.

So much for the best laid plans ...

The hectic schedule of working the last two weeks of my job, training my replacements, gift shopping, entertaining and being entertained, and of course posting the story installments became more onerous than I could have imagined.

Thank you for being patient with my posting schedule as of late. I should be back on track after the end of December.

The New Year and retirement should make my life a whole lot simpler. (SHOULD!)

Jack K. said...

I don't suppose the snow storm helped you meet your publishing deadlines either.

Hope all is well. I look forward to each of your installments.

I guess that Norma will get to the cabin in time to take down the shotgun from the rack in her pick up and chase those two dipshits away. Or, Zanter Klauzen will bring reinforcements to assist.

Have a merry holiday. And, don't drink too much on New Years eve.

I suspect you will find retirement quite satisfactory. I know I do. snerx.

Sandee said...

You'll love retirement. I do very much.

Now this is a twist I didn't think of. I hope her guardian angle helps her out and why do I think mother may have trouble getting back home? I don't know but I do. It seems she is alone with her two kids and the two bad guys. I hope the hiding place works.

Have a terrific day. :)

Hale McKay said...


No problem about too much drinking on new Year's Eve - I quit drinking years ago.

Hale McKay said...


Retirement has been good - so far. There really hasn't been a lot of time for it to sink in yet.