Don't own them, Hasbro/Sunbow do.. Lucky people. I own my imagination only.
Thanks goes out to AmyKay and Alison Hart-Burnett for Beta reading!
Three figures walked slowly through the woodlands, crunching the dry leaves underneath them. The autumn wind blew the scarlet, yellow and orange leaves in small circles around the ground. A light fog floated in the air, creating a dreary atmosphere. Shadows began to emerge, awaking from their hiding places, and creating haunting images among the trees. A branch snapped somewhere, indicating that something or someone was close by. From under a bush, a rabbit dashed quickly across the path, catching the three figures in surprise.
Walking steadily down the path, another sound of movement caused the trio to suddenly pause. They carefully studied their surroundings for any possible indication of any others near them. Sensing for the time being that they were alone, they continued to march onwards. The mostly clear pathway changed dramatically from a tricolor leaf rug to a rocky landscape, making the trail a challenge. Their boots thumped upon each small boulder from each step they took. Suddenly, the first of the three stopped short, causing the others to collide behind him.
"Why did you stop?" came an annoyed voice directly behind him.
"Is that it?" came the second, right behind the first voice.
"Must be, I do not see any other cabins. Do you?" he answered them. He nodded towards the small building directly in front of them. The structure looked shady from the years of abandonment. Several vines twirled around the porch columns, giving the structure a tree house effect. If someone would be searching for the small cabin in the woods, they would surely pass by it without moments notice.
"We did see that little cottage when we were hiking from the first path."
"Flint, that was twenty miles ago." hissed the first voice.
"Oh." Flint retorted, "Are you sure we are at the right place, Duke?"
Duke took out the map in his backpack, unfolded the parchment and checked once more on their position. "The map says this is the place." He started to walk towards the small gray structure, but was stopped short by a hand on his shoulder.
"Are you going to go in there without first checking the place out?"
Duke turned around at the other man, "By all means then, Beach Head. Go right ahead."
Beach Head growled under his baklava, nodded and walked carefully towards the porch steps. The stairs creaked from his heavy boot when it pressed against the wooden surface. Taking three soft steps forward, he stepped on the porch. Another creaking sound resulted from his weight.
"Sounds like someone ate too many sugar donuts this morning."
Beach Head turned around, his eyes shooting spheres. "Quiet!" he commanded, "There is someone in there." Turning towards the wooden door of the cabin, he had clearly heard a few indications of movement coming from inside. "All right, " he whispered towards the others, "On three, I am going to break down the door, and grab the snake that is in there."
"I wouldn't do that if I were you." came Duke's reply.
"Why?" he was quite annoyed at the first sergeant. Why didn't he just let him barge in, capture the intruder, and finish what they had come for?
Duke cleared his throat, "Well, One- I have a key and Two- We have no weapons, remember?"
Beach Head snarled, "Fine. Hand me the key, I'll open it, charge in and punch the daylights of whoever is in there."
Flint crossed his arms in front of his chest, "And what about us?" indicating to Duke and himself.
"You two stay out here as backup, just in case the slithering serpent manages to escape."
Duke moved towards the porch steps, handing the key to the Ranger. "Yell, if you need us."
"I won't." He went to put the key in the keyhole but heard a short click, indicating that the door was already unlocked and slowly opened with a squeaky sound. Beach Head walked inside, leaving the other two Joes to wonder what the Ranger may face in the darkened room.
"Duke, you think it is wise to let him go inside alone?" asked Flint.
The first Sergeant glanced at the warrant officer, "What could possibly go wrong, Flint? Beach Head can handle himself, not to mention most of Cobra's troops." They waited patiently for a few moments, waiting for Beach Head to emerge with the intruder.
"I don't hear anything. Do you?" replied Flint. Beach Head was taking longer than he would expected, it was after all a two room cabin. Suddenly, several thumps came from within the structure, indicating that there was a scuffle inside, but before Flint or Duke could react, a large bellow echoed in the air.
"AGHHHH!! Get it off me! Get it off!" came the shout, closer to the cabin's door.
Duke and Flint rushed forward towards Beach Head's plea, but instantly halted at the scene that stood before them. Beach Head's figure emerged from the cabin, struggling with some type of furry hat. They both glanced at each other before their eyes gazed upon the drill sergeant's combating movements with the brown fuzzy object on his head.
"Get this thing off of me!" growled Beach Head, "It's stuck on the yarn." The small brown hat started to screech, sounding like a broken typewriter. "You are going to be dinner, when I am done with you!" he yelled.
Stepping closer towards the Ranger, Duke's eyes widened from identifying the 'hat' that was now trying to chew Beach Head's head off. "A squirrel!" he announced, amazed at the creature still fighting against an over two hundred pound G.I. Joe member. "The animal has guts." he thought to himself, "That or pure suicidal preferences."
"Gee.. Duke, you must had past Boy Scouts with flying colors." Beach Head said in a sarcastic tone. "NOW, GET THIS THING OFF!!!"
The squirrel, frightened from Beach Head's loud voice, tried to untangle from the unwinding yarn of the baklava's, only to tangle its nails deeper into the mask and right into the Ranger's head. The animal's sharp nails grabbed on firmer, causing more painful cries from the instructor.
"For Pete's sake, Beach!" cried out Duke, "Just take off the blasted mask!"
Beach Head paused as his hands fell straight down to his sides. He looked at Duke speechless. Then, grabbed the edges of the mask, and slowly started to pull off the headwear. "Nice squirrel," he spoke softly to the animal. "Now, if you do not want to wind up on the mantle next to the skunk, I suggest you do not bite." But it was too late, as the squirrel, frightened from its ordeal, sunk its teeth into Beach Head's right hand, causing another unleashing bellow. His teeth grinding, Beach Head ripped the mask off, and threw it on the ground. The squirrel, disoriented, dashed off the stairs, with Beach Head's balaclava still entangled in one paw.
"You owe me six dollars!!!" Beach Head yelled while shaking his fist at the petrified animal.
All three watched the animal dart into the forest and disappear. Shaking his head, Flint went to say something but was cut off by Beach Head's sharp tone. "Say it, and you will find yourself six feet under the obstacle course."
The sun rays had become a dark reddish tone, with yellow highlights coloring the sky. A thicker fog masked the remaining of the sunset, creating a more eerie ambiance around the tiny cabin. The three soldiers finally entered the long forgotten structure.
"Nice place." came the stale tone of Flint, his eyes roaming within the dusty room. "Looks like no-one has lived here for decades." The small room held several chairs, a table with a vase that contained dead flowers, a nice long couch, a bookcase filled with books and other trinkets, a fireplace with a stone mantel, and a very old looking rocking chair. Another door led to the only bedroom, and the back door led to the only facilities, the outhouse.
Duke crossed over to the other side of the room, put down his gear, and pulled the dusty curtains to the side. "At least we have a window." he coughed.
"It is not that bad, just needs some cleaning." came the voice of Beach Head's from the second room, "The bedroom looks dissent enough to sleep. Only there is one problem."
"And what problem is that?" asked Flint.
Beach Head grumbled, "Only one bed.. and there are three of us."
"We will worry on the sleeping arrangements later, right now, we have to make this place livable for the next few days." came from the Joe leader.
For the next hour, the three soldiers worked in silence on making the small space comfortable. They started a fire, to warm the place, moved the table and chairs in the middle of the room, and moved the couch by the side of the blazing fire.
"Wish we had housekeeping." joked Flint.
"Heh! You wish! At least we are not sleeping under the stars, or in a bear cave." replied Beach Head, "Duke, any reason why Hawk sent all three of us to this place? I mean what kind of exercise is this?"
"I haven't the foggiest, but I do not like this. All three of us, not on the base." replied Duke in a deep frown. Why had Hawk sent them deep in the wilderness, to an old cabin, with no weapons?
"Relax, Duke." said Flint walking towards his backpack, "I am sure Hawk can handle anything that will happen during our absence." He flipped the flap open, he began to pull out three large white containers, "At least Roadblock did not send off to starve." Thanking the heavy gunner in his thoughts. "Umm, anyone see a refrigerator?" He glanced around, for the first time noticing that were no electrical devices in the cabin. "Oh. great. Let me guess, no electricity, and no running water, right?"
Duke nodded, "Well, we do have one of those water pumps."
"This is all I needed, a weekend in the woods, playing Little House on the Prairie!" Flint shook his head, and put the containers in a small cabinet. "Hope, no animals get to the food, otherwise we will be three hungry Joes."
"If that happens, I can always cook a possum, or that evil rodent from the pits of darkness.." said Beach Head in a dead serious tone.
Duke and Flint glanced at each other, their features changing into a slight green color. "Are you serious? Possum?" Flint gulped. He did not want to eat anything that Beach Head conjured.
"Nothing beats a good southern possum stew." replied the Ranger with a cunning smile.
Flint's eyes blazed against the other man, "You are pulling my leg!"
"No, I am serious, if worse comes to worse. I'll go hunting."
The warrant officer flew his hands in the air, "Great! We are going to die from rat poisoning!"
Beach Head's face flared, "We are not, you easy bake oven cook!"
"At least I can cook a meal using normal food!" came the agitated reply.
Duke, glanced from his second in command to his third, "ENOUGH!" he shouted, making both men swallow their next words. "I think I know just why General Hawk send us on this three day outing."
Beach Head stared towards Duke in deep thought, until his eyes widened with understanding. "He is good. Very cunning."
"I say this is one of his more clever ideas." Duke stating while flicking on a match and starting to light the few lanterns in the cabin, it was getting darker outside.
Flint glanced from one to the other, "What ideas? Can someone fill me in on this?"
The first sergeant crossed over the room and sat on the couch," Can't figure it out, Flint? Hawk did not send us on a exercise."
Beach Head snarled, "He sent us here for some male bonding."
"Bo..o..nding!" Flint stuttered, "Counldn't we bond back at the base or something?" Suddenly a large bump from above their heads made all three jump. "What was that?"
"Scared, Flint? Want your blankie?" teased Beach Head.
Flint glared back at him, "Shut up!" he walked towards the window and stared outside, "It getting pretty dark outside, not to mention spooky." Dusk had fallen over the wilderness, creating a more dreary atmosphere.
"You are scared!" Beach Head said louder than he attended. Seeing Flint a little nervous was making this trip joyable.
Flint turned, his face red, "I am nothing of the sort! But this place is creepy, and not to mention that we are here during one of the creepiest nights of the year!"
Duke, who had sat in silence, realized which date Flint had mentioned, "Halloween." He said in a raspy whisper.
Flint turned away from the window, small rays of the moonlight fighting to enter the small cabin. "Funny Duke, very funny! But I heard tales of these woods, and I for one am not liking our position right now."
"Yeah, all we need now is Freddy come knocking on our door." pestered Beach Head.
Flint's eyes narrowed towards the drill sergeant, "All Freddy has to see is your face, Beach Head, he will probably run out here screaming for his Mommy!"
"Or yours! Once I'm finished with it." Beach Head retorted taking a step forward.
Duke's body shot up from the couch and stepped right between the Ranger and the Warrant Officer. He did not want to have a full battle on his hands. He had to prevent this from happening. "Alright you two. This will cease or you will be both scrubbing bathrooms for decades, got it?"
"Yes, sir!" they both saluted simultaneously.
Duke nodded in approval, "Good, now lets have some of Roadblock's grub before that squirrel comes back in here and eats it."
After taking out some of Roadblock's famous food from the containers, the three soldiers settled in front of the warm fire. The wind outside had begun to strengthen from the afternoon's light breeze, making a howling resonance against the small structure. They finished eating in silence, cleaned up and settled back in front of the fireplace.
"Flint? Brought those cards of yours?" requested Beach Head.
Flint shook his head, "I knew I forgot something!" making the drill instructor roll his eyes.
"Yes, your brain."
The warrant officer growled but did not reply to Beach Head's comment. Standing up from the couch, he walked towards the bookshelf. "Let's see what the last occupant in this residence read." His finger gently touched the old tattered books, several were classics such as Christmas Carol and other Charles Dickens works, Jane Austen and Mark Twain.
"Anything interesting there, Flint?" Duke called to him. Flint nodded, "If you are into classic and romance books Duke, then come on over to Creepy Cabin Library."
"I'll pass, thank you." replied the first sergeant. He settled back against the couch and stared at the fire, back to his thoughts.
The shelves of books spoke volumes to the warrant officer. How many were read repeatedly? And how many were passed from one generation to the next? A large blue book caught his eye, there was no title on the spine, and no author's name. Intrigued, Flint reached to slide it off of the shelf, but the book itself was wedged quite tightly. Pulling slightly harder, the book loosened and fell from the force on the floor with a thud. Flint bent over to pick up the fallen object, but he quickly caught sight of a parchment that had fallen out of the old tattered book. Curious, he picked up the fallen items. The old yellow parchment had been folded and never read, probably for years, he assumed. Opening the folded paper, his eyes became slightly wider. "It's a letter." he thought, then glanced at the signature, which made his hands start to shake. His shook his head, "Naw.. It can't be." his thoughts were getting the better of him. Every so slowly, he took the book in his hands and opened it to the first page. There on the bottom of the page, he found what he was looking for, and wished the evidence away. His eyes burned upon the name, written in fading black ink, Horst Augustus Jasper.
Flint felt his mouth hang and become very dry. "It can't be."
"Can't be what?" Beach Head's voice came from near the fireplace where he was throwing more logs for the fire.
Duke looked from the couch, apparently Beach Head had been telling him on the upcoming obstacle challenge, and his features clearly showed it.
Flint shut the book, put it back on the shelf and started towards the his backpack, "We got to get out of here, now." reaching for his gear, lifting it over his shoulder and started to head towards the door. Ignoring the other two Joes perplexed looks, "Look," he said seriously, "This is not the cabin that we were supposed to bunk."
The ranger gave him a crooked glance, "What? And whose cabin is this? The three bears?" looking around. "I do not see Goldilocks!"
The warrant office took a deep breath, "Jasper."
"Jasper?" It was Duke's turn to give an odd look towards his second in command.
Flint glared at both of them, "Jasper. As in Old Trapper Jasper!"
Both Beach Head and Duke glanced at each other, their eyes widened, and then burst out laughing. Beach Head's head fell backwards from the large guffaw, "Don't tell me you believe that story!"
"I'm with Beach on this one, it is just a old tale that the native residences probably made up." added Duke.
"Fine!" Flint growled, "Don't believe it Mr. I am friend with Phantom Brigades."
Duke put his hand up, "Hey, I did become friends with them. They help defeat Cobra during that mission, remember?"
Beach Head grinned, "Maybe we should start recruiting phantoms, who is next on the list? Casper, the friendly Ghost?"
"I for one am not staying." Flint turned, opened the door and was about to step outside, when a loud long howl echoed in the foggy night. Flint looked straight ahead of him, A movement directly ahead of him caught his eye, a shadow emerged from the large oak tree that stood only feet away from the cabin, two little glowing eyes blinked back at him. A greenish unknown object floated above the glowing eyes, swaying slightly against the wind. With a gulp, Flint closed the door behind him, "On second thought, maybe my imagination is overreacting."
Putting his backpack down next to the door, he went towards the old rocking chair, settling himself for the long night. The chair creaked from Flint's swaying. He stared blankly at the fire, without saying a word.
"So, aren't you going to play storyteller?" Beach Head gave him one of his, 'chicken' faces.
"Fine, you want the story, I will tell you. But do not blame me if you both cannot sleep tonight."
"At least we can entertain ourselves for the night." Duke rested against the couch waiting for Flint to explain.
Flint gave them a weary grin, "What? No toasted marshmallows on sticks, over a roaring fire?" With a heavy sigh, he reached out, grabbed one more log for the fire and threw it in. "This cabin once owned by an old trapper, Jasper. They never called him by his first name, just plain Jasper. He was a loner, no wife, no kids, just him and his dog, Adoff. Jasper was a hermit, barely anyone saw him, he lived in silence in this cabin. During the winters, he would trap animals, skin their hides, and sell the fur once a year to the town's general store. Adoff, kept close by his master, never leaving his side. But from the years, living on his own, he finally took a wife. He traded a lot of fur for a young bride, Cornelia. She was the most beautiful woman in these parts, had several men courting her, but she married someone twenty years her senior. Most of the books in here must had belonged to Cornelia, she was a teacher, or was going to be a teacher. But being insulated in this cabin, people say that she became depressed, and build a hatred towards Jasper. One winter's morning, Jasper went to check on the hunting traps with Adoff. Cornelia stayed in the cabin, waiting for him to come at dinner. He didn't. She stayed by the fire, awaiting her husband's return, suppertime came and went, and still no sign of Jasper. Cornelia decided to follow his trail, she knew where he usually set this traps. And found him, she did. He was dead, his eyes open, staring into fear." Flint took a deep breath, "His right leg was missing, gone. And there was no sign of Adoff, his faithful dog, who would had gone to the grave with him. Cornelia, stared, shocked and let out this chilling scream that they say was heard miles away. She became mentally unstable after finding him like that. Her family took her in, but she was never the same woman again. People say that Jasper is still out there, hunting for his leg and his missing companion."
The other two soldiers had been silent during Flint's tale, it was Beach Head who broke the silence, "That story gave me goosebumps."
Duke tilted his head towards the ranger, "Really?"
"No." Beach Head smirked, "But I heard the story differently than beret boy here."
"Oh? And how is so, Beach?"
He gave them an evil look, "You know how stories begin, Rumors. And that is how this story began. Beret boy was right on the fact that Cornelia hated Jasper, but hate is only a simple word, more like loathed. Every time she looked upon his bearded face, she shed tears of anger. Jasper never traded for his wife, he took her. Took her from the very same day she would had been wed to another. He brought her up here, to the mountain, and had another old hermit marry them that same night. The village people, discovering Cornelia's abduction, came tearing up the mountain. But the overpass had deep snow, and the horses barely were able to go forth. They knew it was too late to save Cornelia. Several years past and one cold winter morning, Cornelia broke down and took her life. Right next to the thing she loved the most, her books." he pointed towards the bookcase, and saw from the corner of his eye Flint give a shiver. "Jasper was devastated, he loved her and when he found her in the cabin that same day. He buried her in the back of the cabin. Months later, Cornelia's father found the grave site, but there was no sign of Jasper or his dog. And people can still hear Cornelia's blood chilling scream during the nights that are the coldest."
"This is strange," came from Duke. Both men turn to face the first sergeant in deep thought. "I also heard this similar story, but not how both you and Flint just told it." Both men gave him a questionable look. "This is how I know this sad tale. Or should I say, t-a-i-l. The old hermit was indeed twenty years elder then his new bride. But he did not trade for her or took her, he won her heart. Many of the folks, did not understand their relationship. They met one autumn day, just like this one, windy, chilly and foggy. He had gone to check on his traps, and she had taken her horse for a morning ride. Cornelia found herself lost in the woods, and it was getting darker. The horse trembled, from the howling wolves. I do not remember how, but the horse bolted, spooked, and threw Cornelia down a slope. Adoff found the unconscious woman, and alerted his master. Jasper lifted her and took her to the safety of the cabin. Her leg was broken. He mended it and stayed with her til she healed. Adoff always was by Cornelia's side. The dog took upon itself to guard Cornelia. Jasper did something he never knew he would, he fell in love. And she returned that same love. They did marry and live happily. Adoff always by her side, when he was not helping Jasper with the trapping. Though suddenly, Adoff became aggressive and attacked Cornelia when she walked passed him one morning. None knew if the dog went rapid or had become senile from old age. Jasper stayed by her wife's bedside, watching her slowly and painfully wither away. His anger consumed him, he was hurt, and full of sadness. He grabbed the shotgun, went outside where Adoff slept near the porch and shot him, dead. When Cornelia finally passed away, Jasper buried her under her favorite tree, and he walked into the woods never to be seen again. Some have heard a dog howl on foggy nights, and even some others have even seen the dog running through the woods with glowing green eyes." Silence enveloped the room after Duke finished his own verse on the story.
The sound of a cricket made all three of them jump. "Thought it might be a ghost?" smirked Beach Head towards the Warrant Officer.
"Funny!" came the annoyed reply.
"Well, I do not know about you two but it is getting late and I am going to hit the sack." Duke stretched and stood up from the couch.
"Duke, what about the sleeping arrangements?" Beach Head asked.
Flint pulled out a coin from his pocket, "How about you two flip for the bedroom. I am going to be perfectly comfy in my sleeping bag next to the warm fire."
Duke nodded, "Beach?"
"Fine by me." mumbled the drill instructor.
The warrant officer flipped the coin in the air, "Call it."
"Heads!" called out Duke, while at the same moment Beach Head had called out "Tails."
The coin fell back into Flint's hand, "Heads! Duke, you have the bedroom. Beach, you get the lovely lumpy springy couch for the night."
Duke shook his head, while hearing Beach Head mumble about something being "set up". He grabbed his backpack and walked into the bedroom to settle for the night. Turning, he gave his soldiers a sly smile. "Have fun with the spooks tonight, boys." closing the door behind him.
"It is getting more chilly in here." shivered Flint, trying to keep the warm blaze going. "We might as well get into our thermals for the night."
"What thermals? We had to bring thermals?" questioned Beach Head as he lifted his backpack from the floor.
"Didn't you check your backpack list before we left? " asked Flint. "As long as you do not sleep in your birthday suit, I will be one happy man."
"Don't count on it." came the reply.
Suddenly, a thump sounded from the bedroom and then they both heard Duke's extremely loudly words, "I'm going to kill her!" They both gave each other questionable looks. Another rumble came from inside the other room, along with some very aggravated grumbling. Duke's voice floated from the other side of the door, "Did you both check for your thermals yet?" he called out to them.
"No, Duke." Flint called back. He wondered what had upset the first sergeant.
"I suggested you both do it now." came the irritated reply as they heard footsteps returning towards the door.
Beach Head stared at the bedroom door as it slowly opened, "Why should we-"He stopped his question as he gazed at the figure In front of him.
There, standing in a bright orange with pumpkin designs, heavy flannel, long sleeved, pajama set, was the field leader of the G. I. Joe team.
Duke's face was redder than lava, "Flint, one question. Where any of the girls near the backpacks prior to our outing?"
"Uhh.. I think Cover Girl was, when we packed the gear in the jeep." Flint tried to fight off the chuckle, but miserably failed. "Those jack-o-lanterns on your pajamas are cute, Duke."
"What? No goody bag?" Beach Head joined on the leader's pure torment while unzipping his backpack.
Duke growled, "Sure, laugh. Let it out. If word gets out on base about my pumpkin sleepwear, both of you are going to--" but was interrupted by Beach Head's surprise cry.
"Damn that woman!" holding up similar flannel pajamas, only his were black with Frankenstein monsters designs all around them.
Flint pointed at Beach Head's sleepwear, "All I can say, totally you, Beach."
Beach Head turned with a snarl, "Check your bag, beret boy."
Flint shrugged him off, taking his backpack and opening it, "Lady Jaye would never stoop so low as--- Blast!" holding out his own flannel pajamas, which were dark gray and had floating ghosts around them.
"You were saying?"
"Well, I am not putting them on." stated Flint.
Beach Head agreed, "I am not getting in those!"
Duke gave them a smile, "Oh, you both will. That is an order." as the other two men gapped towards him. "It is either the flannel, or you will be shivering all night and I am not going to play nurse while we are up here. Clear?"
Grumbling, Flint and Beach Head changed into their Halloween themed sleepwear.
"Shall we bury him under the obstacle course?" whispered Flint to the not amused drill instructor.
Duke scowled, "What was that?"
Both men bolted straight. "Nothing,"
"Good." the first sergeant gave both of them a 'If I have to go through this, so do you.' face as he said," I will see both of you in the morning, unless anything happens to you."
The ranger grumbled, "We will be here."
Duke turned back towards his sleeping quarters, "Well, night boys. And do not let the ghost bite." he said in a teasing voice, closing the door behind him.
Both the other two Joes, shook their heads, grabbed their sleeping bags and set their sleeping areas. Beach Head blew out the two lanterns and settled on the couch, while Flint checked the fire before letting it slowly to diminish its flame. By midnight all three of the members were in deep slumber.
The little cabin was dark and quiet, the fire had dimmed to almost nothing, the moonlight only barely came through the window and the only sound that could be heard was Beach Head's really loud snoring. The wind tapped on the structure, wrapping it from its power, and creating a soft howl.
Suddenly, a long eerie howl echoed from the forest. Flint's eyes shot open. He had heard the howling. It did not sound like the wind. He looked towards the couch, where Beach Head was still dreaming.
"Best Army Obstacle course designer of the year.. I won the.." he heard Beach Head mutter as the Ranger released another loud snore.
Flint shook his head, "Must had been dreaming." he closed his eyes once again. He turned to his side, trying to go back to sleep. "There is nothing to be afraid of, you are too old to be frightened by ghost stories." he thought to himself. Then he heard a noise, coming from the porch. Was that a scratch?
His eyes shot open once again. "OK, it is only the wind." the sound of panting echoed in his ear. "Just the wind." he thought. "Playing tricks." More scratching became apparent, the first one soft, against the door, then dead silence. Flint's breathing accelerated. Another scratch, this one more profound. It sounded like an animal trying to enter the cabin, a third scratch, stronger. He identified it. Claws. It sounded like claws. Flint stared at the door expecting more to happen, nothing. He then let out a long exhale, he had forgotten one thing, to breathe.
Flint sat up, listening. Silence, nothing but silence. Whatever it was it was gone now. More noises. His eyes widened as the scratching now came from the side of the structure. Was that digging? Something was out there! Or someone! He rose from the warm sleeping bag, and cautiously neared the window. Could it be Cobra? Or that crazy squirrel that Beach Head wanted to stuff? He slowly pushed aside the curtains. His face nearly touching the glass, trying to see through the fog. A few leaves crunched, and a small twig. His breathing began to sound more raspy. "There is absolutely nothing out there!" he said out loud to himself. "You been watching too many horror movies." His heart pounded, the digging had returned! The claws were now digging! Right under from where he stood!
In a blink of an eye, the digging had stopped. Flint relaxed, "My imagination went on overdrive." he thought. Flint rested his forehead against the glass and breathed a sigh of relief. With a jolt, something bumped against the glass window. His eyes slowly opened and he found himself face to face with two green glowing eyes. His body took a step back, his mouth felt dry and his eyes slowly widened. The green eyes were attached to an animal. A big black dog. The dog growled, its saliva dripping on the glass. Flint blinked twice. It was gone! The animal had vanished before his eyes! He looked out the window once more, his eyes roaming around and then he spotted it! Standing under a tree, whimpering. He saw its head flip straight up as an eerie howl escaped from deep inside its vocal chords, sending Flint backwards once more and colliding with something solid. His eyes broadened as he unleashed his own chilling sound. "Eeeaaaaaahhhh!"
He twisted around to fight the solid mass which heavily breathed. The darkened room masked the object, making it harder for the warrant officer to identify it. He had to fight! Flint's hand squeezed into a fist, ready to strike. But the punch never happened.
"Flint! For sakes, its me!" came the familiar voice. Flint glanced upwards, seeing the baffled look upon Beach Head's face.
The bedroom door banged open, "What the bloody blue blazes is going on?" Duke had stepped out of his room, holding a candle and what appeared one of the iron bars from the bed.
Beach Head snorted, "Flint. I think he sleepwalking." He walked towards the table and lit one of the lanterns.
"I was not!" Flint defended himself.
"Then what were you doing?" asked a confused first sergeant. "That scream almost woke the dead."
"The dead were already awake." Flint mumbled.
The two other Joes both gave him a puzzled look.
Beach Head burst out laughing, "Don't tell me you just saw Jasper, running in his boxers! You probably scared him off with your Ghost jammies!"
"No." came the annoyed reply. "Adoff."
"The dog?" Duke asked, "You sure you were not having nightmares?"
"I am telling you! I saw that ghost dog! Green eyes and all." he shivered.
Beach Head shook his head, "Flint, that is only a old tale. There is no such things as---" he stopped and stared towards the fireplace.
Both Duke and Flint turned to see what had caught the Ranger's attention. All three men, stood in silence watching the stuffed skunk glide slowly from one end of the mantle to the other. It then stopped, turned and slowly moved back to its rightful place.
"Did you just--" Duke's voice was deadpanned serious, but his attention was caught by another movement from his right. The vase on the table began to tremble, fell to its side, then began to sway back and forth before it rolled to the edge of the furniture, stop for a second before deciding to fall down to the floor, and smashing into pieces.
A creaking sound became apparent from behind them, turning, they watched the old rocking chair sway slowly, and then with a strong roll, tip over on its back.
A thump came from their left. They twisted their bodies around towards the sound. All three mouths hung open watching another unexplained phenomenon. The bookshelves creaked, the books themselves, trembling. Then suddenly as it had started, it stopped.
The three men stood in silence for second. "Maybe it was an earthquake?" suggested Flint.
Beach Head shook his head, "Can't be. Earthquakes never occur in this part of the---"
Their eyes locked upon once again towards the bookcase. The large blue book that Flint held during earlier in the evening, slowly shook, and started to slide off the bookshelf. Thump! It landed on the floor. Just like an domino effect, one by one, the books started to slide off the shelves.. Thump! Thump! Thump! echoed in the cabin until every single book lay on the floor in a pile.
"Shoot!" growled Duke
Flint looked at him blankly, "With what? And at what? There is nothing there but thin air!"
Suddenly the couch tipped over, making all three jump from its impact.
"I think someone is angry." Flint's voice broke the dead silence that had overtook them.
"Cornelia?" whispered Duke.
Flint stared at the book pile on the floor, "Maybe she is mad 'cause Duke slept in her bed?" trying to break the mood.
The Ranger looked from one of the men to the other. "For the last time! There is no ---"
Bump! the heavy sound of a boot came somewhere close. All three turned towards the back door. Silence.
"Hope that was the outhouse door slamming shut from the wind." prayed Flint.
A whisper echoed from within the cabin, "Leeeg."
"Flint, how many times do I have to tell you, there is not such things as---"
The back door burst open, banging against the cabin's wall with a large thud. Another bump came closer towards the open door. "Leeeeg!" came the whisper from near the opening.
Duke, Flint and Beach Head felt their blood freeze as they watched a white cloudy figure approach the opening. It floated inside the cabin, closing in on the three GIJOE members whose eyes had become large as saucers. The cloudlike substance began to take shape of a human, it slowly became more visible until it was fully formed.
"Ghh.. GHOST!!!!!!!!!" shouted Beach Head, looking straight into the glowing eyes of Old Trapper Jasper.
The ghost turned and faced the drill instructor, its eyes narrowing, its mouth wide, and his hands menacing moving around. "Leeeeeeg!" screeched from inside the lifeless soul.
The three men looked at each other, their eyes wide and their expressions of pure fear as they unleashed three blood chilling screams.
"Retreat!!!" they all bellowed at once, about turning and running out the cabin's door. They gaited down the rocky path, shoeless, running at top speed, and never turning back to look.
A black dog stepped on the porch, raised its head and gave off a spine shivering howl. The dog wagged its tail as two figures emerged from the side of the cabin. Footsteps echoed on the porch and stopped to watch the almost out of sight figures, running for dear life with a small creature, dragging a balaclava, following them.
"Did you get it?" said one figure, bending down to pat the dog.
"Every single moment. Even Flint screaming like a girl!" came the amused reply.
The other nodded with a big smile, and took out a small walkie talkie, "This is Two Witches to Big Ghoul, come in."
Static sounded from the other and then a familiar voice answered, "Big Ghoul here. How are the three treaters standing? Scarlett?"
"You mean running, Sir." Scarlett replied. "There are three yellow lines running down the path right at this moment. And might I add barefoot and still in their new pajamas."
She heard a chuckle on the other end, "Did Lady Jaye get everything?"
"I got the whole thing on tape, Sir. And Scarlett made sure to take pictures of their faces during the whole thing." answered Lady Jaye, patting the video camera.
"Great! Cannot wait to see this. I'll let Ace know. They did not even survive the first night, a lot of men are going to be crying. The cauldron was full."
"Save some warm apple cider for us, Sir." requested Scarlett, as Lady Jaye nodded.
"Will do, see you two Witches back at the base. Hawk out."
Scarlett closed her walkie and put it back in her packet. The two Joe women glanced at each other and burst out laughing. The dog, who had lay on the porch, glanced at them and yawned.
"Good boy, Timber!" Lady Jaye praised the wolf when her giggles had subdued, "I think 'black' is your color."
"We also have to thank Snake Eyes, for rigging the items." reminded Scarlett.
Lady Jaye nodded, "And do not forget Mainframe for fixing that ghost hologram machine that we confiscated from Destro's castle. Without his help, Old Trapper Jasper would had never existed."
"Hawk's plan was brilliant. Not to mention using his old family's cabin for the setting." Scarlett said pointing to the cabin.
"Imagine! Those three scared of a little haunting!" Lady Jaye joked, "I can still hear Beach Head say, 'Flint, I told you there is no such thing as--"
Suddenly a blood chilling shriek echoed within the cabin as the door slammed shut on its own. The two women stared at the small structure, their eyes wide, mouths fully open and nothing coming out. Both turned their heads slowly to each other, and without wasting another second, bolted down the path, faster than their commrads had done moments ago.