The stranger pounded fervently against the roughly hewn oak boards standing between him and the biting wind. The low rustle moving through the heavy branches was barely audible over the sound of his heart now pounding in his ears. How long had he been lost? It couldn't have been for more than an hour, but the forest had quickly darkened overhead and the faint glow he saw now, and heard again, brought little comfort to his aching body.
Desperately he brought his fist down again, now harder, now faster, almost falling forward when the door finally groaned on its hinges as a grisly browed man peered out from under years of wrinkles and a greasy hat. "Lost are ye?'" he scratched out in a voice that had seen more jugs of corn liquor and 'baccy than human souls. He shuffled back, as the glow of the fire warmed cabin drew the stranger in, and dropped a heavy bolt into the latch shutting out the sinking darkness.
A simple table set near the hearth with two chair drawn up beside it. The old man poured a thick dark brew from the kettle on the coals and set it opposite him at the table. "That'll warm ye bones," he chuckled as he pulled a tin plate from a shelf concealed in the shadows that stretched along the wall. Embers flashed in the reflection of a surprisingly well sharpened blade as the host carved a chunk of cheese from his own plate then dipped the knife into a kettle swung from a thin iron bar over the flames. The stringy meat he added to the tin plate smelled better than it looked, but the stranger was hungry and grateful. With a thump, the old man struck the blade into the table boards and resumed his seat opposite the stranger.
They sat in silence, the old man chewing away at the fibrous meat, the stranger sensing he was being watched tried to concentrate on the film atop his mug. That's when he caught the gleam in the eye, the one eye, of a mangy cat resting by the door. He shifted uneasily in his chair, the old man raised his brows; questioning, knowing. In two swift strides the stranger determined he'd rather face his odds in the unknown the forest. Sliding the bolt with a grunt, he stumbled back into the depths of the night.
On the 101st anniversary of the birth of Charles Addams, Living Poetry has challenged us to write something a little darker...