Would you spend a month in a remote cabin?

(Originally published on the Nerdic Viking website on 2nd August 2016)

It’s not a difficult question to answer, is it? I mean, look at the place. It’s idyllic! Sod the money, you’d go for free, right?

This meme has been doing the rounds in one form or another for a few years, and every time I see it I drift off into my own little world. I imagine the peace and quiet of the forest and lake, a month with no stress or pressure, no interruptions, no schedule to keep.

I see myself sipping a pear cider in the sun on that deck, just listening to the birds as I read a good book. Or writing, whittling and painting under the shade of a tree by the water. Or exploring the surroundings with my camera, taking photos of the flowers and wildlife… wait, am I allowed a camera, or is that considered an electronic device? Ah well, I’ll try and sneak it in anyway.

I have a bit of a niggling feeling about not having a phone, purely because I’m a bit of a clutz. If I were to slip on one of those rocks and break my leg, get bitten by a snake whilst rambling or mauled by an angry badger, it seems likely that the emergency services would be retrieving my animal-munched carcass at the end of the month because I had no way to call for help. Still, maybe I can negotiate one for emergency use only because, hey, it’s sensible given what an idiot I am.

Either way, it would still be a far cry from the chaos of everyday Viking life. Even now I can hear the blacksmith hammering away next door, the carts rattling up and down the road and the drunken singing coming from the Mead Hall across the way. Our world is so noisy, and thus the dream of peaceful seclusion will always be a very tempting one.

I would watch the sun set behind the lake in the evening, and retire inside to the warmth of the crackling fire as darkness falls, and then…

…well, here’s where it all falls apart.

I’m not afraid of the dark – I’ve camped in secluded fields surrounded by woodland, sat around fires with lots of lovely people well into the wee hours of the morning and felt absolutely no fear at all. But there’s safety in numbers, right? I’m not afraid of the dark. But I am afraid of what’s IN the dark, and more importantly I’m afraid of being alone with it, possibly with no frickin’ phone for emergency use only.

I have two things going against me, here:

1.       A head full of a lifetimes-worth of creepy campfire stories.

2.       An absurdly over-active imagination.

The combination of these two factors, coupled with a lack of TV, music devices or anything else to provide comfortable and safe background noise, would most likely result in me spending the entire night quivering and terrified, straining to listen out for unearthly cries outside, taps on the windows, scratching, creaking or scraping noises, or even rattling door handles.

Windows which were so wonderful during the day would have to have all their curtains drawn tightly after nightfall so that my imagination won’t have the opportunity to conjure scary faces behind them, and honestly, that cabin has a shitload of windows. It’s a complete and total nightmare window-fest. It’s more window than walls.

“But Ragnhild!” I hear you cry, “there’s nothing out there that will hurt you, it’s all in your head! Stop being such a daft sod and enjoy the experience!”

You might be right, of course, but I have read accounts from people who would say otherwise, people who have had strange encounters alone out there in the forest.

I’ve heard tales of The Rake, a spindly, white, human-esque bastard of a creature with glowing eyes, long claws and a scream that will make you throw up from dizziness. Then there’s the Goatman, who turns up on trail-cam photos looking like the baddest-assiest creature ever. There are wraiths that will silently circle your cabin leaving nothing but ghostly footprints, and Bigfoots that terrify with their size, hairiness and overpowering stench.

And what about UFOs? Surely being alone in some remote cabin miles from civilisation would make you prime abduction-fodder for a passing gang of curious aliens, yes?

Mothman, the Chupacabra, the Bruja, Skinwalkers, roving gangs of cannibalistic mountain men – the list goes on and on. Urban legends or Creepypastas they may be, but what if they’re not?

Take Slender Man, for example. He’s a tall, faceless git with unnervingly long arms, who wears a suit and tie, and only moves when you’re not looking at him (like the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who). He started out as a fictional internet meme in 2009, but now there are sightings of him all over the place. He even has his own game, one which I’ve never played because, just nope.

Now he may be fictional, but if there’s even the slightest chance that he’s dicking about in the woods nearby, that’s good enough for my imagination.

There are many, many accounts of folk disappearing mysteriously in national parks and forests, and as much as I would long to spend my days in that beautiful and idyllic cabin, I don’t want to become one of the disappeared when night inevitably falls around it.

So, lovely internet meme, I’m afraid I must sadly decline your generous offer for the sake of my own sanity.

However, send me there with a bunch of lovely friends who can tell me what a twat I’m being, and then we’ll talk.

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