All Log Cabins Are Haunted Part II
By: Patric Quinn

Part II

The others at the far table jumped into action as Richard grabbed the woman by her arm and pulled her to her feet. She looked at him bleary-eyed and weary. "We're going!" He dragged her past the beard on the ground and burst through a pair of French doors at a run, crossed a patio and on into the darkness. The ground was rough, and the woman stumbled often, but Richard held her up and kept running, pulling her along.

The woman yelled and pulled away. "Where are we going?"

"I don't know…. but not there."

"I'm out of breath!"

Richard stopped and looked back anxiously while the woman gasped for air. Wavering pinpoints of light spread out from the French doors, searching. "Look, Princess, we have to get off this damn island, so, it's run with me or stay here and die. Or worse."

"Get off? How?"

"I don't know yet, but let's go."

They ran again in the darkness, sometimes stumbling, but she stayed with him better. Behind, the pinpoints of light were snapping on and off, he heard a whiz pass close by. He pulled her faster. "They're shooting at us…. run…keep up…." But she stumbled and sprawled on the ground. Richard looked around desperately. Then, he heard the water, the swish of the sea against the shore. He made out the deeper dark of nothingness a little beyond the cliffs' edge.

A glance back at the approaching lights and the flashing shots that sometimes blew up dirt around them. He bent down and took her face in his hands. "Look, Princess, a little farther, just a little, is the end of the island. Then, the water. I don't know what's there but stay here and we die. We have to go." Her grip tightened on his arms and he picked her up. "I'll hold on to you and we'll go together." She said nothing but didn't pull away. He took that as being ready. "The only thing is…. it's a cliff…. we have to jump to get down to the water." He felt her grip get tighter and glanced back at their pursuers. "And we have to jump out….as far as we can…. not down. There's a ledge and his Komodo pets are waiting…. if we don't get out far enough."

In the darkness there was no way to see how she felt. That didn't matter. A blast of dirt blew up from a close shot, the pop of the rifle followed almost with it. He grabbed her as tight as he could and ran as fast as he could to the edge of the cliff and launched into the darkness, as far out as he could get before the inevitable drop. The elevator thrill rose wildly in his stomach and the Princess screamed; the wind rushed by as they plummeted. He pulled her close and held her tight. They hurtled down as a single body. The few seconds waiting for the end seemed like an eternity and, then, they hit the water.

Richard struggled to get oriented. The Princess slipped away, and his hand was wrapped in a shredded piece of her clothing. Desperately holding the half-breath, he had when they went under, trying to identify which way was up, and looking for her, he knew time was fast running out until he gulped the water….and she swallowed, too.

In the gloom her white skin moving showed only slightly less dark, but enough. He reached and grasped her, some part of her, then, kicked upward dragging her with him. They burst through the surface into chill night air. He was sputtering and gasping to recover. He held her limp in his arm. He couldn't tell her condition or what to do. He drew her close and kissed her hard, blowing into her mouth. She twisted away sharply and spit up sea water. Richard was glad she slapped at him.

Looking around for his next move, he became aware of a large mass within his arm's reach. "What the hell…."

"Richard, climb on the dive platform in back, hurry. We've got to split."

"Who are …? Is that you Aaron?"

"Who else would it be out here at the end of the world."

"Well, for crying out……."

"Get her in the boat, Richard. Get in!"

The Princess was clinging to Richard so tightly that getting in was easy. He looked toward the sound of the voice, but only saw a shadow. A blanket flew toward him unfolding as it came.

"Put the blanket on, sit down and get warm." The throaty muttering of the powerful engines burst into a roar that split the quiet night. The forward thrust of the boat knocked Richard backward into the rear seat with the Princess wrapped in his arms and both wrapped in the blanket. He thought of how her white skin shone a bit underwater and how he didn't feel any fabric under his arms.

The boat cut powerfully and fast through the calm sea, gently rising and falling over the gentle swells in a way that started to lull him into relaxation. He felt her body stir against him under the blanket. Her lips turned close to his ear.

"Mmmm….Richard."

"How do you know my name?"

"It is your name, isn't it?"

"Yes, but…."

She pulled herself closer and whispered in his ear. "You're my hero, Richard."

"Geez, look, Princess, ……"

"I'm not a princess."

"Well, whoever you are, what I was saying was….

"I'm Leo. I'm the richest daughter in the world. And I always get what I want." She nuzzled closer into his neck. "Always."

"Where did a girl get a name like Leo?"

"Leonora. Leo for short and it sounds neater in the columns."

"Well, okay, Leo. But I was saying of all the things you want; you don't want me."

"Yes, Richard, I want you, and I …."

"…. always get what you want. But not this time. I don't want any more women in my life. You're all too much trouble."

"Anything worth having is a little trouble. Otherwise life is boring, bouncing around from one exotic beach to another, Cannes to Palm Beach to Aspen. The Hamptons are the most boring of all. Pretenders."

"Leo, go to sleep or something. I just got rid of one wife who didn't like the way I like to live. And she was enough trouble to last a lifetime. I'd rather walk on hot coals."

"Like we do in India. I love you, Richard, I want you. Hold me tighter, Richard." He tucked the blanket around them and pulled it tighter. Leo snuggled against him and mumbled. "I always get what I want." Richard didn't answer. He sighed uncomfortably, yawned and tried to relax into the movement of the boat speeding through the sea. * * *

Richard became aware that he was awake but didn't move. He started checking himself. Breathing was okay, didn't feel any pain anywhere in his body, felt very comfortable in a familiar way, the blanket tucked around him. Familiar what? The feel of where he was lying. Like his favorite cushy lounge chair…. the big one in his log cabin. No voices, no sounds, wind or boats, no smell of the sea. Just silence and his favorite lounge.

He opened his eyes a crack, then, realized he was in a room with soft reading light like his…. like his log cabin living room. Startled at his discovery, he sat up quickly and watched for any movement and listened for any sound. Nothing. He listened longer and no sound or movement. He was in his favorite place in the world, in his favorite chair in the world.

Everything as it should be, except across the room propped in the shadows next to the fireplace, the big map clock. But even that should be there. He cautiously spoke into the emptiness of the room. "Aaron?" Nothing. "Aaron, are you around here?" Nothing, just nothing. He shook his head and grinned to himself. "Home. I'm home. It was all a dream……but so real…. but only a dream." Richard pulled the blanket over his shoulder and sank back into the invitation of his chair. "Just a dream."

He was drifting off when he suddenly sat up. "But what about that, the ocean, the island, those cut-throats and the princess who wasn't a princess? Leo and Aaron. It was all outside my front door. Where was I? Where am I?" He jumped out of his lounger and ran to the door, almost afraid to open it. He yanked it wide and stepped out onto…. his patio. The lake and the pine trees all around. The moon over the mountains reflecting in the lake. He breathed in the country air, waited for his anxious heart to settle down and went back to the only world he really wanted, his lounge chair in his log cabin and his solitary life by his lake. "A dream…exciting, but nothing real, no more than a dream."

He lay back in the embracing comfort of his chair and tucked the blanket around himself. Ah, pure solitude. Maybe tomorrow he'd go fishing in the lake.

"Richard." Any sound would crack the dead silence.

He popped up and stared. This couldn't be, an apparition. Leo stood in the archway to the bedrooms. She almost wore the wonderful terry robe he had swiped from that Arizona spa. Her blondish hair hung long wet and dripping in thick curls. "Sorry to wake you, Richard, but where do you keep your towels, Love?"

"Leo! You're a dream. You're just my imagination! You can't be…?"

Her voice was like a purr in the dim light. "Richard, I always get what I want."

The End

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