Originally I was going to re-share a Christmas short story from my Cedarbee Island series, but over the past few months I’ve been working more on Mystery In Space so in the end I decided to write a short story set there instead… so here it is, Christmas At A Cabin.
Obviously, like my other two main stories, Mystery In Space is still in progress, so what takes place here might not have any bearing on what actually happened by the end of the main story. As this is supposed to be set after it, I’ve been careful not to include things that could be too spoilerish for people who may want to read that in the future.
Anyway, I hope you all have a great Christmas and enjoy getting to know a few of my characters in this story.
‘Can anyone pick up mince pies?’ – Teagan 16.32
‘Teag you were supposed to be making them’ – Blake 16.33
‘Sorry run out of time. Kenz? Riv?’ – Teagan 16.33
‘River’s got the car, Riv can you pick them up on your way back?’ – Kenzie 16.34
‘River? You there?’ – Blake 16.39
‘She’s gone into work. Will msg her’ – Kenzie 16.41
‘Okay. So what time are we getting there?’ – Teagan 16.43
When River left work she noticed several new messages had been posted in the group chat. She quickly scrolled down the rest of the messages on the way back to her car, then saw the other message Kenzie had sent her separately, ‘go on the group chat, we need mince pies!! x’
‘Just caught up, will pick up some on my way back. Leaving work now x’ River pressed send and put her mobile device back in her bag as she got in the car.
River and Blake had been one of several teams that had been sent to check in on other planets people had left Earth to live on ten years ago. Kenzie and her work partner were supposed to be visiting Tortan but… let’s just say, things happened that left River, Blake, Kenzie and Teagan travelling out to the other planet together.
They’d been back on base for around a month when they’d decided to meet up for Christmas, so now after leaving work River was trying to track down mince pies to take with them.
A few hours later, River and Kenzie pulled up outside a wooden cabin, down a narrow track in the middle of nowhere. A two-storey building with a corrugated roof, surrounded by trees, it really was as remote as the description had said.
The front door opened while they were still getting their cases out, “Blake, hi,” River smiled as he came over, she gave him a hug. Teagan was close behind, as they all said hi to one another.
“How’s it going, living back on base?” River asked Teagan.
“Oh you know, I guess I miss home still but,” Teagan shrugged, “my family’s here so,” she walked over to the front door of the cabin with River, “did you get the mince pies?”
“That’s why we’re late, the grocery hub didn’t have any.”
The few they’d had in stock had already sold days ago. Now all they’d had left were ingredients, not any ready made, ready to eat, to buy… to take with them mince pies but the butter, flour, mincemeat and whatever other ingredients went into them. People normally baked their own but River had hoped they might have some left, instead she’d had to drive over to a bakery hub to pick them up.
Inside the cottage tinsel was haphazardly hanging from every corner. Teagan and Blake had made a quick attempt at throwing some decorations up when they’d arrived earlier, to make the place feel more like Christmas.
“So what have you been doing since you’ve been back?” Blake asked River.
“Catching up on things, finalising our planet reports to send in to base, figuring out what we’re going to do next really, what about you?” River left her case at the foot of the stairs as her and Blake carried on talking.
“Much the same, have you been contacted about this other planet opportunity?”
“Yeah but, we only just got back from the last one,” River said, “I think we’re going to stay base-side for a while, Kenz has got research she wants to do, and I’ve already got my job to go back to so…”
Kenzie dropped down onto the sofa in the open plan living room, the staircase ran along a wall to the left of the front door, next to it was a small corridor that lead out to the kitchen, “wow so much tinsel.”
“I think Blake must have filled up an entire box in his car with it,” Teagan turned to him a moment then back to Kenzie, “it does look pretty though.”
“Oh it does,” Kenzie said.
“I’ll show you to your room,” Blake said to River, “Kenzie, you coming?”
Kenzie followed him and River upstairs. Kenzie and River left their bags in a room overlooking the front of the house, Kenzie spotted a tabbit out of the window, “oh look, we’re so remote out here there’s tabbits,” tabbits were tree dwelling rabbits that inhabited some of the planets.
When they got back downstairs, Blake and Teagan were sat on the sofa, talking quietly together. River and Kenzie joined them on the sofa opposite. River got her mobile device out to check for any messages, “any of you got a connection here?”
“No, I lost it a while back on the road, I was talking to Arnold back at Oakerston when it cut out, I did tell him we were off to a cabin though, I’ll catch up with him another time,” Teagan said.
Kenzie looked out of a window later that evening, “it’s snowing, it’s actually snowing,” she shouted to the others.
Snow was falling lightly against the glass roof out the back. Teagan stood in the doorway, glancing up at the glass roof above, already thick with flakes of snow. Snow swirled around the roof as it started coming down faster, “looks like it’s setting in for the night.”
When they woke up the next morning, River got up and looked round the curtain on the window in her and Kenzie’s room, wondering what might await them on the other side. A thick blanket of snow covered the ground out the front of the cabin with the odd flurry here and there still floating to the ground.
“Not sure we’re going to be going anywhere today,” she said to Kenzie who was just waking up.
“We’re supposed to be going up to my parents place later,” Kenzie got up to join River at the window, “wow, that’s a lot of snow. I haven’t seen as much as this since our Earth days.”
“We never even got much snow where I lived.”
After breakfast Kenzie figured she should try contacting her parents, let them know they’d be late over there. She left the cabin with River. Snow crunched underfoot as they set off towards the path that lead through the forest, out to the other side of the main route in.
They walked along in silence for a while, lost in their own thoughts. Kenzie checked her mobile device for the third time in a hundred steps, “finally got a connection,” she dialled the number to her parents.
“Have you got enough food out there? They’re saying it could be like this for a few days,” Kenzie’s mum said on the other end of the call, concern in her voice.
“We’re fine, Blake brought enough to fill an entire fridge,” Kenzie carried on walking again, then narrowed her eyes a moment as another thought occurred to her, if they brought that much food, had him and Teagan been planning to stay longer? Together?
River stopped by a tree and looked up at the bare branches, a winter version of the same trees on Oakerston. How had it already been eight months since her and Blake had arrived on planet Oakerston? River looked away, realising Kenzie had said something and was waiting for a reply, “sorry, what?”
“Mum’s just asked how long we think we’ll be staying,”
“Oh um, I guess it depends when we get there.”
River and Kenzie were talking in hushed tones when they got back to the cabin, “you reckon they’re together, like together together?” River thought about it a moment, “you know what, back on the ship they did seem kinda close…” She pushed the front door to the cabin open and found Teagan had been about to open the door on the other side.
“Didn’t have to go as far as we thought to get signal, it’s not bad out there, if you ignore the fact it’s minus ten,” Kenzie unzipped her coat now they were in the warmth of the cabin.
River did the same, she left her coat on a peg by the door, “something smells nice.”
“Blake’s been cooking,” Teagan turned towards the kitchen then back to the door, “I was just going to get something from my car.”
River shifted a piece of tinsel back into place that had already tried to make an escape on her way through to join Blake in the kitchen, she picked up a spoon to try some of whatever he was cooking, when she put the spoon back on the side, stood there with her arms folded.
The expression on her face made Blake stop with a plate in mid-air as he got it from the cupboard, he lowered his arm, “what, I thought you liked the soup?”
“The soup’s good,” River said nonchalantly, she picked up the spoon again and took it to the sink.
The front door shut as Teagan came back in, River moved across the kitchen nearer to Blake, “anything you want to share?”
“Dinner will be ready in ten,” he got another three plates out.
River raised an eyebrow at him, then added, “you and Teagan seem close.”
Blake pushed the cupboard door shut, “I uh…” he hesitated, “we’re… yeah,” he looked at her sideways, reaching up to another cupboard to get out glasses now, “we’ve been together since we got back.”
Teagan appeared in the doorway, “want a hand with anything?”
“It’s nearly ready,” River carried the plates over to the table, then looked between them a moment.
Teagan picked up on unspoken words, “okay, what have I missed?” She pulled a chair out and sat down.
“You know, I don’t know if I should find it weird or not, two of my closest friends…” River separated the plates out between the place settings.
“Oh? You know? Or the best thing ever, think of all the double dates we can go on,” Teagan said.
Kenzie joined them now, “so it’s true then? I knew it,” she grinned, “aww we’re happy for you both, aren’t we Riv?” she nudged River’s arm as she walked past her on the way back to the cupboards.
“Definitely,” River joined them at the table, “it’s great you’ve got each other now.” River knew all too well what Blake went through when him and Ava split up, it was good to see him happy again.
Later on after dinner, River and Kenzie exchanged presents with Blake and Teagan. A woolly hat and a writer’s notebook were a couple of the things that got unwrapped.
By the next morning the snow had all but melted so Kenzie and River were able to get back on the road. Catching up with Blake and Teagan had left Kenzie wondering about this new work project, but how would that work with River starting back at her old job?