Friday, October 7, 2016

The Snow Bowl Witch, Flagstaff, Arizona

“I met a witch on the mountain.” David said. Andy sipped his coffee and smiled.”Tell me about it he said.
         David sat back, relating how he had gone to the Snow Bowl area looking for new hikes. He had parked at the Kuchina trail head and noted it was clouding as he started his hike, unaware that blizzard warnings were posted though it was only mid November.
         An hour into his hike, David found a small path off to the left. It was hidden by a double-trunk pine tree that towered over the trail. Taking the new route it started to snow, then blow. He hesitated, but continued navigating the narrowing of the way along a steep ravine. Suddenly a gust blew David off the trail and he fell head over heels down the slope, banging into a large rock.
         Sometime later David awoke to find himself in a warm bed while the wind howled outside. To his amazement, a black cat sat on his chest staring at him.
Shooing away the black cat, David sat up and saw a woman in white at the doorway of the small bedroom. She had long blond hair that cascaded down the front of her gown and green eyes that stared at him curiously. “Am I dead?’ He asked. “Are you an angel?”
         The woman smiled, shaking her head.” I am a witch.” She said, coming into the room and putting her hand on his head. “Sleep now. I’ll lead you back when the storm passes.”
         Awakening to morning light, David looked around and saw his clothes neatly folded on a chair beside the bed. He gingerly felt his head, then got up and quickly dressed. He went into the large room and found his host at a table near the fire. She motioned for David to sit and served him porridge. He ate surprised at his hunger. While his host tended the stove, David looked for the black cat, but did not see it in the open room.
         David tried to engage his host in conversation, but she stayed silent except to say it was time to go. He shrugged into his hiking parka; she donned a long grey coat with a large hood and pulled on black boots.
         Together they wound their way from the cottage on a sunny morning, stepping carefully through the deep snow. After an arduous hike David saw the two-trunk pine and he knew they had reached the main trail. They stood at the junction as David paused to thank her. “Don’t return looking for me.” His guide warned solemnly and then she retreated along the hidden track.

Three weeks later the early snow had melted, the trails were dry and Andy coaxed a reluctant David into visiting the cabin in the woods. They parked at the Kuchina trail head and took the main route. The day was cold but clear and after an hour, David spotted his telltale pine and pointed it out. Cautiously they turned onto the hidden path, working their way along the narrow trail. They paused occasionally to catch their breath and check their surroundings.
        Finally, they came to a clearing and among the pines they saw a structure. “Looks like a hunter’s cabin.” Andy said, pointing at the bungalow nestled in the trees. “Maybe for an antelope hunt. Let’s check it.”
        But David held back, suddenly uneasy as he recalled the woman’s warning. The neat cabin was indeed the one he had shared with the woman in white. It unnerved David and he hesitated to go inside. Andy laughed at his friend’s caution and said he would have a look around. Andy went to the door and slowly pushed it open, and then disappeared.
        Standing alone in the clearing, a cloud scudded over the sun and the pine woods darkened, a wind whistled through the needles while the tall trees swayed.
        “It’s empty.” Andy said, returning and standing in the doorway. “There’s no furniture, just dust and cobwebs everywhere. Looks abandoned.”
        “Nothing, no one? David asked.
        “Just a green-eyed black cat.” Andy replied. He started to step forward, but slumped to his knees and was dragged back inside. David’s scalp tingled and he turned to run, but felt himself drawn back to the cabin and through the entrance way. The woman in white was there, shaking her head in admonishment, but smiling. “The oven is ready.” She said, closing the door.

Jack and Ann were disoriented in the forest and it was late afternoon with a light snow. The pine woods were darkening and they feared the coming night lost and alone. Suddenly, Ann called out. She saw smoke from a chimney and through the trees they saw a cabin.
        The couple approached cautiously, pausing at the front, smelling the delicious aroma that wafted from the cabin. Jack knocked on the door and it was opened by a woman in white with long blonde hair. He explained they had taken a wrong turn and needed directions back to the main trail.
        “Come in!” She smiled. “I just finished a roast and everything is ready. I have more than enough, so please join me.” The couple graciously accepted and entered the cozy cottage, noting they were cold and hungry.
        “I’m sharing.” The woman in white said.

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