The Hike

         It was bitterly cold that morning, winter had decided to come a little earlier that year.  Kevin’s down-filled sleeping bag kept him nice and toasty, making it difficult to get up and face the inevitable.  He laid there thinking about how dreadful it was going to be to get out of that warm little bubble and put his regular clothes and outer-wear back on.  Finally, the thought of brewing a fresh pot of coffee over the campfire was just what he needed to make the leap.

         Kevin climbed out of his sleeping bag and hurriedly put on all his clothes.  His boots were still a little damp from his mishap from the day before, the shoestrings had actually frozen from the overnight chill.  Fuck, this is going to suck!  Luckily, he had packed extra socks for this trip, remembering from previous trips what it’s like to hike around in cold, wet socks all day.

         He unzipped his tent.  It was time to finally face Mother Nature.  He stepped out and headed over to the nearest tree, a different kind of nature was calling.  After he finished relieving himself, he zipped up and headed back to the campsite.  He came through the clearing expecting to see his friends already starting their morning when he stopped dead in his tracks.  What the hell?

         “John?  Mary?  Steve?” he called out.  The campsite was empty, all except for his things.

         What the hell is going on?  Keven looked over the campsite.  There wasn’t a trace of anyone, as if he had been there alone the entire time. 

         Am I dreaming?  He slapped himself in the face to make sure.  That felt real.  Then he headed over to the still-smoldering campfire and took off his gloves.  He held his hands out over the smoldering coals, feeling the heat.  No, I’m definitely not dreaming.

         “John!  Mary!  Steve!” he hollered into the empty forest.  He listened intently, but there was no answer.  “Is this some kind of joke?  You guys aren’t funny!”

         Kevin stood perplexed.  “All right you assholes!  I’m packing up and moving out and remember…I’ve got all the food!”  Still nothing, except the sounds of a few birds braving the coldness.

         He packed all his camping gear into his backpack, looked around the campsite one more time, and then headed back down the trail they had traveled the day before.  Kevin made his way down the trail, trying to comprehend what was going on.  His mind was amiss.

         He had been hiking for over a half-hour when it started to lightly snow.  Great!  Normally he would have welcomed the snow, but with everything that was going on, it only made his mood worse.  With each step, his thoughts became darker, and so did the day.  The snow came down heavy and hard, making it difficult to see…his mind doing the same thing.

         Kevin came upon a crest in the trail and stopped suddenly.  What the fuck? 

         The trail dipped down into a valley, the trees giving way to an opening, where a small cabin sat with smoke slowly drifting up from the chimney.

         Where the hell did that cabin come from?  It’s never been here before.

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