Hard to actually sleep with an ember in your belly, but somehow Edelweiss and Malcolm managed to get a few winks before sunup. Morning came and there was still no sign of their cabin-mates Easter or Jarrett.
“This is so strange.” Ede mused as she whipped up something for everyone to eat. “Do you think they went home?”
“Not sure,” Malcolm said. “It seems unlike your sister to leave without letting you know somehow.”
Edelweiss was a lot better at cooking now, her skills far surpassing his.
“This food is phenomenal,” Malcolm commented on the meal.
“Thanks! I had this really hot teacher once who taught me the proper way to drop a spoon,” she bragged.
“Hey now,” he laughed, “I only dropped the hypothetical one.”
“But you did it so well,” she flirted.
Someone opened the cabin door. Ede was about to welcome her sister back and ask where the heck she’d been, but it wasn’t Easter who showed up at all, but some hat-wearing woman she didn’t even recognize.
And then another. Attracted by the smell of actual food, perhaps, they piled in and helped themselves to Ede’s cooking.
“We’re, uh, gonna head out..” Ede said to the guests. “You folks enjoy your meal.”
They’d have to figure out what happened to Easter and Jarrett later. The day was much too beautiful to waste. Onward to Granite National Park!
Malcolm was still being devoured by mosquitos, but he was being a really good sport about it.
“Are you sure you don’t wanna head back?” Ede worried.
“Naw, I’m fine,” he said. “Let’s go explore.”
The national park is really neat! It’s got that real forest shade thing going on, with lots of undergrowth. Ede found some wild mushrooms and herbs that she managed to harvest without incident. Also caught some gnarly termites, just because she could.
Malcolm spotted a cave-looking thing off in the distance, its entrance obscured by hanging brambles.
“Wait!” Ede called out, “Don’t go in there!”
“I’ll be fine,” he smirked over his shoulder to her as he stepped inside.
The opening closed right back up after Malcolm passed though, as though the brambles were part of a sentient organism. Ede waited outside, unable to enter. She called to him, but he didn’t answer. She couldn’t hear or see a damn thing from where she was standing.
Inside the corridor, Malcolm was facing a series of obstacles. He pushed his way through darkened overgrowth and stopped to fish in a babbling brook, only to be chased out by some kind of woodland monster. Finally he emerged, shaken and scratching furiously.
“What the heck were you doing in there?!” she scolded, relieved to see him. “Are you okay??”
Malcolm was itching all over from his experience in the cave-thinger. Ede was worried about it. They went to look for a forest ranger, hoping to find information on a remedy. Bound to be one around here somewhere, right?
The station (if that’s what this actually was) was deserted, though. Ranger whoever-it-was sure kept a lot of insects in there – nearly every available counter space held some kind of terrarium. Kinda creepy, really. Cozy little cabin though. Bathroom, chess table, fireplace, books.
They looked around, hoping to find information that might help them out of their predicament. Ede picked up a romance novel from an end table and couldn’t help but crack it open, naturally.
“Ha,” she shared, “this one is about a lonely lumberjack and a mysterious woman with amnesia.”
“What’s a good campfire song?” Malcolm asked, twanging a guitar string to check if it was in tune.
After giving the place a thorough rifling-through, they sat by the fire to warm up a bit, hoping the bug-wrangling lumberjack or mysterious amnesiac would show up if they just waited long enough.
“I’m starving,” Ede confessed.
“We’d better go then, unless you mean to sample the beetles,” Malcolm joked.
Ede grilled up some fresh fruit on the bbq outside. Despite being rather uncomfortable from his rash, Malcolm was feeling flirty so he sang her a silly little ditty while they ate.
Still not another soul in the forest. Would’ve been ideal were it not for their need for some guidance. Must be off-season or something? The two headed back towards the cabin, hoping they’d finally find their fellow vacationers.
“Hey, this little thing is the ranger station! I wonder what that bug shack was about..”
Ede browsed the wares and picked up some basic camping supplies just for fun. No ointment or repellent, but she did manage to find an herbalism guide. Bit late, as Malcolm’s rash was already feeling better.
A quick stop at the cabin revealed nothing. It didn’t even look like Easter and Jarrett had been by today. It wasn’t dark yet, but Ede was burned out and just wanted to take a bath and lay around, now.
“These two are making me mad,” Ede said. “I feel like we’ve spent half the time just trying to figure out where they are!”
“Well, your sister is a free spirit, and Jarrett’s got his own unique sense of things too.”
“I suppose,” Ede grumped.
“I’m still having a good time just being with you,” Malcolm said.
“Even though you’re being devoured by insects and maimed by plants?”
“Even though,” he smiled.
“I plumming hate these beds,” Ede sighed.
As much as Edelweiss loved the woods, she was anxious to get home. Her sleeping arrangements were uncomfortable and frustrating, random strangers were still inviting themselves into their “private” cabin, and she felt bad that Malcolm kept getting bit and stung and plant-rashed during their outings while she got off scot-free. But they’d paid for the cabin for one more night, so she would have to make the best of it.
While she sat, too annoyed to surrender to slumber, her phone rang.
It was her sister, finally!
“Where the heck are you guys?” Ede asked.
“What’s Parkshore? Where the plum is that??”
Ede hung up. She was kind of miffed. “Parkshore” wasn’t even on the map. It made no sense.
“They won’t be back tonight?” Malcom asked.
“Nope. I guess Parkshore is way more interesting.”
Malcolm grinned. Ede didn’t know why the heck he would.
“Get dressed,” he said. “There are a couple of things we need to do.”
First, he dragged her outside for a campfire. (To be fair, she came willingly. ;D)
Although it wasn’t yet dark, the campfire was cozy and very camping-ish. People were finally starting to appear and wander around. People and.. other things.
After his encounter in the cavelike-opening, Malcolm wasn’t keen on being around another woodland beast. He hopped right up and retreated. Edelweiss, however, knew bears. And this was no bear.
The bear, who actually had quite the squeaky high-pitched voice, was a friendly, playful sort. Wanda was her name. The two chatted for a good while and became fast friends.
She was a bit shy at first, but Ede managed to get Wanda to join them for a marshmallow roast. Even Malcolm was okay with it, eventually. ;D
Edelweiss and Malcolm returned to the cabin that evening in much higher spirits.
“I think we can go ahead and use the grownup room tonight,” Malcolm said.
No complaints here. Or there. Or, anywhere.