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Tales from Cabin Eight: The Witch in the Woods


by dan4884

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Author's Note: This story takes place after Tales From Cabin Eight: The Creature in the Cabin from Issue 225. You don't need to read that story first, but it is recommended. Happy reading!

Life at Camp Scary was getting normal (well, as normal as life at a haunted summer camp could be). After the first encounter with the Spyder a week ago, the quartet had completely Spyder-proofed the cabin, cleaning it as they went along. After a few hours' work, Hank, Sara, Marcus, and Haley had made their home almost livable. It barely looked the same.

     Mrs. Feign still didn't believe the children. There was no evidence to convince her. She simply could not be swayed, no matter how much the foursome argued with her. What's worse, she didn't trust them at all anymore. She was suspicious of anything and everything that came out of their mouths.

     The disappearance of the Spyder was still on the minds of the children. It didn't make sense at all. How could the Spyder have disappeared right out of the cabin? Its feet were glued to a web! There was no way it could have escaped from the trap they had caught it in. As they cleaned up their cottage, Hank dwelled on the Spyder nonstop. He could not get the picture of the menacing Spyder looming over him.

     "Do you think someone helped it escape?" the white Kougra asked out of the blue while they were returning from the mess hall. Sara and Haley were discussing the disgusting food, but stopped immediately.

     "Oh, Hank, we've been over this already! We don't know what happened! Let's just drop it, ok?" Sara, a red Zafara, snapped.

     "No! I want to know more about it. It's just so mysterious!" he said, more to himself than the group.

     "I don't want to talk about that monster," Marcus, a Draik the color of the night sky, whimpered. Just the thought of it still terrified him. "Can't we talk about something else? Like what's happening somewhere else than here?"

     "Maybe he's still in the forest," Hank said, oblivious that the others had changed topics. He began to think of a plan to search for the Spyder. The creature could cause too much terror if it ever returned, Hank thought to himself. And if no one else around him wanted to help, he'd just have to do it himself. As he thought about it even more, he realized that going by himself would let him stand out-which he wanted more than anything. Hank silently plotted out his ideas, and decided that he would do it that night.

     ***

     The night was wild at Camp Scary. It swallowed the day like a beast, consuming all light and transforming the landscape into terrifying, mutilated shadows. Hank slipped out of the cabin as quietly as possible, avoiding the creaking floorboard by Haley's bed. The door had a slight squeak, but Hank did his best to reduce the sound. Once he had left Cabin Eight, he snuck past the other cabins and the mess hall and stole into the woods.

     Once he had entered the forest, he came to a problem. He had no idea whatsoever where to look, or even what he was looking for. The forest was huge, and he didn't want to get lost in it, for that was a worse fate even than being eaten by a Spyder. Who knew what things were deep in the Haunted Woods? Hank didn't want to be the one to find out.

     As he glanced around, his eyes rested on a large stick with a pointed end. Picking it up, he realized he could make a mark on the trees he passed. That way, he'd have a path leading him right back to the camp. Feeling quite the genius, he scratched a star shape on the nearest gnarled tree, the bark flaking off easily.

     Hank ventured further into the forest, stopping every now and then to make a mark. He looked around for any sign of the Spyder, but could find nothing. He began to think that maybe it did just disappear. After all, weirder things had happened.

     And then he saw it. It was a small cottage, only slightly bigger than his cabin. It was oval shaped, with a miniscule chimney churning smoke out of it. The fire flickered through the windows, casting an eerie shine onto the trees around it. In fact, the plants itself seemed to be on fire. Hank was captivated. He stepped closer to it, eyes still fixed to the glow.

     When he reached the front door, he stopped. He wanted to see what was inside, but he was also slightly afraid. He had heard the stories before, of a hut in the middle of the woods. In all of the stories, only evil comes out of the cottages. "But," Hank thought to himself, "if I'm going to be a hero, I need to get over my fears of cottages." So he knocked on the door and waited for a response.

     It came almost instantaneously. There was a clatter on the inside, and a woman was shouting angrily. Hank heard footsteps draw closer to the door, and it burst open suddenly. Standing in front of him was a stooped old Acara, her face mutated and body skinny and fragile.

     "What do you want?" she asked grumpily.

     "Oh… I was just looking for a giant Spyder. See, this Spyder attacked our cabin at Camp Scary, and after we defeated it, it disappeared. So, I came to find it. Have you seen it?"

     The Acara looked at him strangely. "So… you're from that camp, eh?"

     Hank nodded. The woman was scary, but Hank could have imagined something much worse opening the door. He was somewhat relieved to see just an old hermit and not anything else.

     "And you say a Spyder attacked you?" she said, her expression unreadable. Hank nodded again. The Acara stared at him, her eyes boring into his. He glanced away. She was making him nervous.

     After about a minute of silence, the Acara stepped away from the door. "Would you like some tea? The water's only just been boiled," she asked.

     He uneasily entered the hut. Tea sounded really good, no matter how creepy the lady was. He looked around. There were many dusty bottles and beakers, covered with cobwebs, and there was a cauldron on the far side. In the middle, a grand fire was burning, the smoke flowing through the small hole in the ceiling.

     The Acara handed Hank a mug of tea and motioned for him to sit in what looked like a comfy chair. Hank could've sworn the chair wasn't there just moments ago, but it felt good to sit down nonetheless. As he sipped his tea, the woman eyed him curiously.

     "So, how do you like that camp?" she asked.

     "Not much, actually. It's too spooky for me," Hank cautiously replied. The woman began to give off an eerie aura again.

     "Do you find my home spooky?" she questioned.

     "A bit, yes," he said, feeling incredibly honest for some reason. "So, do you know anything about the Spyder?"

     The Acara gazed at Hank a bit longer. "I must confess that I do."

     "You do?" he asked excitedly. "What do you know?"

     "That I conjured it," she said simply.

     "W-what?" Hank inquired.

     "I conjured him, with my wand. Didn't you know I was a witch? I thought it was obvious," she said, a grin forming on her wrinkled face.

     "You're a witch?!" Hank yelped, beginning to hate ever coming in here.

     "Aye, I am, and I'm sure glad you came in here. I was needing someone to replenish my potion ingredients," she said, her evil smile stretched across her face. She flicked her finger towards Hank, and suddenly he was tied up in the chair.

     ***

     The next morning, Sara awoke with a start. It was barely light outside, as there was only a bit of light shining through the crack in the door. As she regained consciousness, she realized the crack in the door was what woke her up. She distinctly remembered shutting and locking the door last night, so it either meant someone had broken in, or one of her cabin mates had left. When she glanced around, she found it was the latter. Hank was missing. She immediately called to Haley and Marcus.

     "Guys, wake up!" she said, pulling her clothes on quickly. "Hank's gone!"

     Marcus groaned groggily and rolled over to face Sara. "Wha-?"

     "We need to find Hank! I think all that talk about the Spyder may have gone to his head."

     "Can't it wait twenty more minutes?" Marcus asked, still half-asleep.

     "No! He could be in danger," she said.

     Haley was thinking about something Hank had said. "I think he mentioned something about the forest last night. Maybe he went in there?"

     "If he did, he's dumber than I thought, and we need to get moving."

     The trio got dressed and left the cabin, walking quickly into the forest, looking for any sign of Hank.

     "See any footprints?"

     They looked around for a few moments, but to no avail. He seemed to have disappeared. Sara sighed and sat down. It was pointless to go looking for someone in a forest as big as this one, and it was stupid of Hank to go in here in the first place. The sun was now rising over the trees, and as she looked up, she noticed a funny mark on the tree next to her. Standing up, she examined it further. It was a simple star scratched into the bark.

     She looked around to the other trees and noticed the same shape on a few other trees. In fact, it looked like a line of trees.

     "Guys! I think Hank left us a pathway!" she said excitedly.

     She followed the marked trees and ventured further into the forest in pursuit of the dummy she called Hank.

     ***

     Hank sat in the comfortable chair, the ropes binding him beginning to constrict his breathing. He watched the old Acara bustle about, preparing for the charms and spells she was going to cast. She pulled her cauldron to the center of the room and set it on the roaring flame, which wasn't helping Hank feel any more comfortable as it was now rather warm in the room. He silently wished he hadn't played the hero.

     "Are you ready, young man?" the witch asked creepily.

     Hank struggled with the ropes, but it was futile. He was stuck. And about to be made into potions, no less. The witch flicked her finger and the chair began to levitate towards the cauldron. Hank began to worry.

     He was just about to drop into the pot when the door burst open. "Stop!" Sara shouted as she ran in with Haley and Marcus on her tail.

     The Acara turned around suddenly, and Hank was flung across the room, still tied to the chair. He screamed, but it was muffled.

     If the witch was surprised, she didn't show it. Calmly, she said, "Well, hello there, children. I take it you are also from this camp?"

     Sara nodded. She glanced at Hank, who was lying in the corner, the chair overturned. She frantically looked for a way to save them. This would be the second time that she saved the group. She didn't want to make a habit of it.

     "So, would you like to join your friend here?" the witch asked, putting on an overly sweet smile.

     Marcus whimpered. He slid behind Haley and cowered, which was difficult for him, considering he was twice as big as the Shoyru. Haley, despite being frightened herself, silently reached back and clasped his claw. Marcus relaxed a bit, Haley's arm comforting him greatly.

     Meanwhile, Sara had formulated a plan. She inched her way along the wall, all the while talking to the witch to keep her unsuspicious.

     "So, Ms…er, Witch, why are you keeping Hank tied up?" she asked casually, as if she knew this frightening woman all her life.

     "Oh, I don't think we need to make small talk, dearie. And get away from those potions!" the witch said, cackling. Sara sighed. Oh well. It was worth a try.

      "You three. Come here or I'll make you," the Acara said, her sugary voice dropped. Silently, Sara, Haley, and Marcus came forward.

     "Now you'll do as I say, or your friend will get it. You will leave here and never come back, got it? The Kougra is mine. Don't expect to see him again. I've needed some dried Kougra paws, after all. Now leave!" she screamed.

     The threesome looked at each other fearfully, and turned to leave. Hank's eyes widened. They weren't going to leave him, were they? He struggled in the chair, his grunts muffled.

     The three filed out of the cottage silently, first Haley, then Marcus, and finally Sara. Just as the door was about to shut, Sara turned around, her rosy red tail whipping through the air, and threw a vial filled with a lime green liquid towards the witch. She screeched as the potion hit the floor, exploding in a cloud of emerald smoke around the Acara. Sara dashed back into the hut, blindly searching for Hank, for the smoke had now expanded throughout the witch's home.

     Sara found the chair where Hank was tied in. She fumbled with the knots, but she was unable to untie them. She grabbed the chair and dragged it through the cloud, searching for the door. Yelling for help from Haley and Marcus, she pulled Hank through the small doorway and into the forest. The Shoyru and Draik grabbed the chair, and together they dashed away from the cottage, which by now had exploded in a burst of jade flames.

     ***

     When they thought it was safe, they set the chair down on the leaf-covered undergrowth and began to loosen the knots attaching Hank to the chair. When they removed the cloth in his mouth, he gasped and took a few deep breaths.

     "Thanks," he managed to say between the gasps.

     "What the heck were you doing out there in the first place?" Sara yelled.

     "I… I wanted to find the Spyder," he said.

     "Why? Was it really that big of a deal?" she asked.

     "No… I guess not, but it just bothered me, that's all. I wanted to find it," Hank said. He didn't say that he really went in search of the Spyder because he wanted to be the hero. He knew Sara would really blow up if he said that.

     "Well, don't do it again. I'm not going to save your sorry butt next time," she said.

     He nodded. He didn't want her to save him again anyways. He'd be too embarrassed.

     "So, did you find it?" she asked.

     "Find what?" he replied, puzzled.

     "The Spyder!" she said, exasperated.

     "Oh! The witch sent it," he said, happy to know something Sara didn't.

     "Well, I don't think we'll be bothered by her for a while," Marcus said happily. "Now, who's up for some lunch?" he asked, his stomach rumbling loudly.

     The group began the trip back to the camp, unaware that someone was watching them a few yards back. The Acara left her hiding place from behind the tree, and muttered to herself:

     "On the contrary, little Draik. You will be bothered by me for the rest of your time at that camp!" she said with a smirk on her wrinkled face. She turned to return to the wreckage that was her home. She needed to plan out her next attack on the foursome that had ruined her plans twice, and she'd do everything in her power to stop them.

The End

 
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