The Ash Hut: A Short Story

1610 Words 7 Pages
The Head of House had told her the Ash Hut was all locked up, on her very first day of school—but the Head of House had lied.
Jana knew this because when she walked past the hut, she sometimes heard voices whispering in the wind that blew from between its cracked timber cladding. She knew this because she had ventured down to the hut one dark Friday evening and, beneath the pale glow of the darkening sky, swore she had seen a faint light pass between the thick boards nailed across its windows and slip through the gap beneath its crooked door. Jana had lost her nerve then and darted back to school in the purple twilight, hurrying so as not to miss lights out—or so she told herself. And most of all she knew it wasn’t locked because she and the
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Past the empty garden beds, the dried remains of herbs a graveyard of broken skeletons in the heat, and down, down the hill towards the forest shade where shadows pooled in refreshing clumps. She still watched for the flicker of Cinder’s tail between the tree roots, despite knowing the cat would be dozing by library fan like any reasonable being and not out in the heat of the day.
A few more steps and she reached the burntwood. A fire had gone through this part of the forest years ago and drooping green shoots clung to blackened trunks. The other children thought the burntwood an ugly place, but Jana was rather fond it, her own little kingdom. It had an eerie dark beauty, and she loved how handsome the trees looked dressed in their verdant robes. Just beyond the reaches of the forgotten fire, the Ash Hut slipped from the trees like a ghostly shadow all grey and moody. It sat squat on its little mound and sagged with mystery, like a locked at the end of a dark hallway.
A tingle danced up her arms, and she shivered in some invisible breeze. “Just checking up on it,” she told herself, as if the hut were at risk of wandering off in the
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Energy seemed to crackle in the air, and the humidity turned Jana’s curls to a frizzy mess. The smell of approaching rain wafted through the forest tickling her nose with its heady scent, and a fat raindrop splashed onto her upturned nose. “Well I best be getting back,” she said, still not looking at the boy.
“Ah, yeah, good idea that,” he replied.
Just then the sky opened, and the downpour began. Giant raindrops splashed to the forest floor drumming like gumnuts on a tin roof and hot white danced across through clouds accompanied by the low rumble of thunder. Jana squealed and grabbed her hat, worried it would be blown away in the sudden flurry of wind.
“Too late ta head back now, to the hut,” the boy Alo shouted over the howl of rain.
Jana needed no further encouragement she dashed up its broken steps and huddled beneath its leaky veranda Alo right behind. The rain came pelting down in torrents, and she counted between each flash of lightning and its accompanying roar of thunder, “one one-thousands, two one-thousands, three one-thousands, BOOM.” The storm was drawing

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