The Cabin by Grizzly Lake

📅 Published on June 11, 2020

“The Cabin by Grizzly Lake”

Written by Drew Stepek
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 8.57/10. From 7 votes.
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My sister Heather meant the world to me. She always seemed to have everything growing up. She was the homecoming queen in our small town. She graduated valedictorian of her class. She was voted Most Likely to Succeed her senior year. She was captain of the swim team and took our local girls to Nationals three years in a row. Of course, it went without saying that there were always different boys lining up outside our front door to get her attention.

During her freshman at the local college, our parents died in a car accident, and just like that, Heather’s life changed.

Our parents didn’t have any life insurance policies so, we were left to survive on our own and she had to drop out of college to take care of me. She sacrificed everything for me and as I went off to college on a scholarship, fewer and fewer boys came calling and the opportunities to get back on track became a series of closed doors.

As the years went on, the life she dreamed of and built towards slipped farther and farther away, until it finally got so out of reach that it disappeared completely. She was eventually consumed by drugs and the cost of her habit lead to a life of living on the street. With that, her beauty eventually gave way to the beating of hard living. Her brilliance became clouded by the addiction monster. Her body became the shell of the one-time athlete.

I constantly tried to take her in and nurse her back to health. I also sent her to rehab more times than I can count. I wanted to give her back her all the things she gave me, but I didn’t know how.

She went missing. She would run away, never wanting to find the path that would return her to Heather. Her quests always ended up in alleys, abandoned houses, and running into walls. It got to the point, where she didn’t even relate to her own greatness. She was lost.

As horrible as it sounds, I am ashamed to admit that Heather became a burden. Week after week, her routine became a series of run-ins with the police. She was in and out of urgent care. One time, she got hit by a car, ignored her injuries and almost bled to death. The worst part about it was that she never looked to me for any help. I don’t even think she knew how to ask for it.

I spent a lot of time crying by her bedside when I did manage to get her to momentarily dry out. Her deafening cries always made me remember the accident and my parents.

* * * * * *

I sipped the water that the doctor’s assistant gave me. “What do you mean she can’t stay here anymore?”

“We’ve been through this, Tucker,” the doctor returned. “She doesn’t have insurance.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” I shot back. “I pay it every month.”

He handed me a stack of papers. “Unfortunately, the policy doesn’t cover her checking in and out of the hospital to dry out. I’m sorry.”

I looked through the paperwork, desperate to find a loophole. Truth be told, I wouldn’t even know a loophole if I did find it.

“You can’t just throw her out on the street. She needs medical help.”

He looked down to his desk, trying not to make eye contact with me, and then he pushed his horn-rimmed glasses up off of the tip of his nose. He began again. “It would be one thing.” He hesitated for a minute. “It would be one thing if she tried even a little to get better. This hospital isn’t a revolving door and we just don’t have the means to continue to treat her.”

From down the hall, I heard Heather crying and screaming.

He pointed to his door. “Other patients are constantly complaining about her loud screaming.”

“So, that’s it? You are just going to throw her away?”

“I’m sorry,” he said definitively as he stood up and extended his hand to shake. “I wish there was something I could do. There is…” he stopped for a second and then closed his eyes and shook his head. “Forget it,” he decided, backtracking.

“There is what?” I asked before I gave in and shook hands with him.

He nervously shook his head. “There is… nothing I can do to help.”

“Come on, doc.” I put my hands together and drew them toward my face, as if I was praying for any solution. “You were going to say something. There has to be something. You have known Heather since she was in elementary school. You know that if there was ever someone the world owes, it’s her.”

He turned away from me and pulled tugged down a blind so he could look outside. Again, he was avoiding me.

“Please,” I started begging. “Please help her end this cycle. I hear the screaming. She’s in pain. There has to be a solution.”

“There is something unorthodox.” He dropped his hand to his side and the blind popped back into line with the rest.

“What is it?” I frantically ran over beside him. “I will do anything. Is it one of the new age solutions that I’ve been reading about online?”

“Something like that,” he said. “Because I haven’t looked into it, though, I can’t in good conscious put you through it.”

I put my hand on his shoulder. “What is it?”

“There is a radical treatment center over by Grizzly Lake.”

“I’m not familiar with Grizzly Lake,” I confessed.

“I wasn’t either. I just found out about it the other week. I know nothing more than that. I haven’t heard any success stories. I don’t know anyone involved. All I do know is that it’s not licensed medicine for addiction. What I do know is that it involves fully unmonitored withdrawal treatment.”

“I will do anything to help Heather.” Desperate, I asked him. “How do I get in touch with them?”

He clasped my hand on his shoulder and bent over to open the top drawer in his desk. He shuffled through some papers and office supplies and, after a few seconds, he produced a business card. He handed it to me.

I read it aloud. “Grizzly Lake Therapy,” I said. “The Paths Beyond Treatment.” On the left side of the card was a picture of a cabin on a lake with the sun rising behind it.

He took his glasses off and dropped them on the desk. “Tucker, I wish I could offer you another way solution.”

“It’s not your fault, doc. Can she stay here tonight while I try get in touch with these guys and get this squared away?”

Heather’s loud screams shook the glass pane on the door to his office.

He nodded yes. I put the card in my back pocket and said my goodbyes.

* * * * * *

When I got home, I called the number on the card.

“Grizzly Lake Therapy,” the voice on the other end said as they answered.

“Hello,” I responded. “I…”

“Mister Johnson?”

I pulled the phone away from my ear and looked at the screen. The number was unlisted. “How do you know my name?”

“We just got done speaking to your sister’s doctor, Doctor…” a heard some papers shuffling around. “Doctor Townsend.”

“Who am I speaking to?”

“My name is Rolland Mawanou. I am the creator of the treatment and the founder of the organization.”

I cut to the chase. “Can you help her?”

“Doctor Townsend told us the severity of her problem. I haven’t consulted with my colleagues yet, but we are willing to try and help you both.”

“How much? Will you accept her insurance?” I looked over at the bills stacking up on my kitchen counter.

“Grizzly Lake Therapy is a privately funded organization,” Mawanou started, as if he were delivering a sales pitch. “I guess you can say that we are still smoothing out the bumps in the program, so for a somewhat limited time, we are offering our services as a pro bono care initiative.”

I spoke for Heather. “She has no alternative. At this point, the only foreseeable outcome is that she dies on the streets. I’m desperate.”

“Let me speak to the other decision-makers in the organization and I will call you back.”

“She might not make it through the night, Dr. Mawanou. She won’t stop screaming and crying. She’s in pain.”

“I am not a doctor,” he whispered.

“Sorry. Mr. Mawanou.”

“Your sister has to be willing to want to be better. She has to give herself to the process. I will call you back after I have spoken to the rest. And, Mr. Johnson—”


“If we decide not to take on your sister’s case, I sincerely wish you luck.” He hung up before I got the chance to thank him or further plead my case.

About an hour later my phone rang. The number was unlisted. I picked up. “Hello.”

“We will take her,” Mawanou said. “Please meet us at the hospital in an hour. Our representatives are already there getting her discharge in order. Bring everything you need for yourself. This is not an easy process. Are you sure you want to go through this?”

“I know,” I told him. “The good thing is that I’ve sat by her side through withdrawal many, many times. I know what to expect.”

“Then,” he assured me. “You are ninety-nine percent there. Also, please bring something of significance to Heather.”

“Such as?”

“Something that helps remind her of her former life.”

I hung up the phone and threw a couple changes of clothes, my toothbrush, my phone charger and my deodorant into a backpack. As I was leaving, I remembered that Mawanou asked me to bring something that held special significance to Heather. I ran upstairs into her room. I opened the closet and began rummaging through the garbage bags that held her life. The bags were filled with broken swimming trophies, pictures of her and all her friends, and old outfits. I didn’t come across anything that I felt would really hit home with her. That was, until I reached the final trash bag. At the bottom, tearing a hole in the side of the bag was her homecoming crown. I looked at it closely and memories of Heather’s high school glory flashed before my eyes.

* * * * * *

When I reached the hospital, two men were loading the frail Heather into a white van that had the same Grizzly Lake Therapy logo from the business card painted on the side.

“Where are you taking me?!” Heather cried out.

I ran over to help them.

Dazed, and with tears streaming down her cheeks, she begged me for answers. “Tuck? Where are they taking me?”

I pet the top of her once beautiful hair. It was dirty and bound together in spots. At the roots, the hair was drenched, as was he face. “We are going to try something new, Heather.”

She doubled over before she stepped into the van and groaned. Then, she bounced backward, and began screaming like she was a dog howling at the moon. I recognized the sound. The worst of the withdrawal symptoms were starting to kick in.

I looked over to one of the men, who I assumed was from Grizzly Lake Therapy. “Where’s Mawanou,” I asked.

“He won’t be making the trip,” the other responded.

“Why not?”

“We are capable of setting up the therapy accommodations,” the other said.

We finally managed to load her into the van and I wrapped a blanket around her to try and alleviate her shaking. One of the orderlies handed me a contract. I quickly read through it. There was a lot of language about Grizzly Lake Therapy not being responsible for the outcome of the treatment. There was even more language, making sure that neither Heather nor I had any drugs on us. The long and short of it was that this was an exploratory treatment and that the patient had to be one hundred percent committed to ending their cycle of addiction. Sure, I didn’t have a lawyer present but the contract didn’t have any legal terms that would have prevented me from signing it and no red flags went off in my head. I signed and got in the van.

On the trip, Heather started screaming louder and shaking uncontrollably. This was the worst I had ever seen her. She was in worse shape than the time before this that set the bar and the time before that.

“Help me!” she cried at the top of her lungs. “Tucker! Please help me.” As she faded in and out of consciousness, I continued to pet her hair. Whenever she woke up, she would scream directly into my ear, begging me to take away the pain. I held her close, trying to share the warmth of my body with her to stop her shaking. A few times she even vomited on me. The worst part of her symptoms was always the crying. The screaming. I never knew how to help or what to do. She went through bouts of begging me to give her something to ease her discomfort. Then, when I looked to the orderlies from Grizzly Lake Therapy to see if they could help her out, the driver would look into the rearview mirror and shake his head.

“She has to be one hundred percent free of all drugs,” he told me. “If she isn’t, the therapy won’t work.”

Eventually, I calmed her enough, and she let me put her head on my lap. I tried to look down at her, hoping to see my big sister look back at me, smiling. Whenever I did, however, all I saw were the sunken cheekbones that had absorbed the rest of her face.

* * * * * *

After about two hours that seemed like a torturous eternity, we pulled down a dirt road.

“We’re coming up to the facility,” the passenger told me.

I wiped the tears away from my eyes. “I don’t know if she’s going to make it. Please tell me you have something at the facility to help her.”

The driver looked at the passenger and neither responded.

I took that as a no.

At around nine PM, we stopped in front of a cabin that looked exactly like the cabin on the logo.

“You’re kidding me,” I said as Heather’s shaking began to escalate again. “This isn’t a facility.”

Still silent, the driver and the passenger got out of the van. One of them came around to the side and opened the sliding door while the other retrieved a gurney that was in the back.

Their silence continued.

“Where’s Mawanou?” I turned on my phone and started to look for the number that I called earlier.

Before I had the chance to find it, however, the driver snatched my phone out of my hand.

“You have to surrender your phone, Mr. Johnson. The treatment won’t work if there is any way to contact outside entities.”

They loaded Heather onto the gurney and strapped her arms and legs.

“This isn’t right. Take us back to town,” I demanded.

The driver stood in front of the sliding door, blocking me from Heather as the passenger started wheeling her into the cabin. “You have to be one hundred percent committed to the treatment as well. Please, sir. Grab your belongings and go to the cabin. No one said this was going to be easy.”

“Are the restraints on her necessary?” I asked, confused by everything that had just transpired.

“You will know when to undo them.” He grabbed me by my shoulders and lightly shook me. “Understand. This will be the most difficult thing you have ever done.”

“I’ve helped her through withdrawal several times. It’s never easy.”

“This will be the worst, son.” There was a strange compassion in his eyes and I heard the sincerity in his voice. It was if he’d be in my position before. It was if he understood.

I grabbed my bag and headed into the cabin.

There was no furniture inside the one-room musky building other than a card table chair that the driver unfolded and put next to Heather’s gurney. There were also no medical devices. However, the passenger left the cabin for a minute and returned with a rolling IV. He put a bag of what I assumed was water on it and then put the tube into her arm.

The passenger reached his hand out toward me and said, “The keepsake, please.”

“The keepsake?”

“The personal keepsake that you brought for her.”

“Oh,” I said. I unzipped my backpack, pulled out the crown, and handed it to him.

He looked at it for a few seconds, running his finger through the inside. I guessed that he was searching for any drugs that I might have snuck in for her. Satisfied that I wasn’t breaking the contract, he placed the crown on her chest.

“Is that all you’re going to do for her? When she wakes up, she is going to be going through severe withdrawal.”

They didn’t answer at first. But then the driver finally said, “Expect others to come by around midnight?”

“Will Mawanou be coming?” I asked for the last and final time.

They didn’t answer. They started to leave the cabin and the driver looked back. “Take care, Mr. Johnson. I really do mean that. We will return your phone to you in the morning.”

I looked at my watch as the van pulled away. It was only 9:15.

* * * * * *

While I waited for Heather to wake up, I paced around the small cabin. There was absolutely nothing to it. There wasn’t a stove. There wasn’t a fireplace. There wasn’t even a bathroom. I knocked on the wood and saw that it was rotting from the inside out. Even the lightest touch would cause it to splinter.

The floor wasn’t floor at all. It was dirt. I made my way to the back. There was a rear entrance that had a window on either side. I opened it and saw that down a hill about fifty yards away was a Lake. I assumed that it was Grizzly Lake.

Before I got the opportunity to investigate further, however, Heather woke up and started screaming again. I shut the door and quickly took her side on the chair that the orderlies had set up next to her gurney.

“Why do you hate me?!” she screamed over and over again. “Why are you doing this to me?!”

The high-pitched cries, dug into my ear. It was the most awful noise that I’d ever heard. It was so much worse than any of the times that she screamed and begged for comfort at a hospital. The fact was there was nothing I could give her. I patted my pockets, hoping that maybe I had a piece of gum or candy but I didn’t. The screams shook the foundation of the cabin and at one point, I thought that shrieking was going to cause the small building to collapse.

I grabbed her hand tightly. “I love you so much, Heather. You are the greatest person I have ever met. I love you more than anything in the entire world.” The tears turned to bawling. “You sacrificed so much for me. You gave up everything for me.”

She continued to scream and drown me out, so I squeezed her hand tighter and started to yell over her. “I love you. I love you. I love you!”

“I love you too, Tucker,” she finally said.




Three loud knocks on the back door boomed through the cabin walls.

I looked down at my watch, not realizing how much time had passed since she began screaming.

It was midnight.

I looked back toward the door. Not knowing what to say, I asked, “Who’s there?”

No one responded.




I got up from the chair and started moving toward the banging. Before I reached the door or had the chance to look out either of the windows, however, whatever was outside let out a howl that was equally as loud as Heather’s.

As if they were communicating pain back and forth, Heather yelled back in agony. You could hear her vocal cords giving way to exhaustion.

I reached the back door and put my ear up against the wood. “What do you want?”

Rather than an answer, whatever was on the other side screamed back, causing me to hop backward and lose my balance. As my butt hit the ground, I started crawling back to the gurney. Before I reached Heather, however, several other screams rang into the cabin through loose walls. Dust shook from the boards as they creaked.

Heather screamed again.




The choir of screams became louder and louder and louder.

I pulled myself up to the gurney and began loosening her restraints. “Heather, we have to get out of here!”

She just screamed and yelled. Her eyes rolled back into head as the pain of her withdrawal became overwhelming.




The things on the other side of the door started shaking the doorknob. I unbuckled the final strap on Heather’s arms as I saw the back door begin opening.

I rushed to the back of the cabin and slammed myself sideways into the door, shutting it. I looked down to see if there was a lock. There was not.

The screaming outside continued.




Not knowing what I was going to see, I slowly bent sideways and looked through the window.

Walking slowly toward us from Grizzly Lake were hundreds of dark figures. They lethargically stepped from the banks of the water, in and out of the moonlight, bellowing. Some were dressed in decorated military uniforms, some held trophies close to their chests, and some hugged stuffed animals. It seemed as if their only mission was to join their leader at the door and add to the deafening noise. The sounds of pain.

Terrified, I planted my feet in the dirt and used all my strength to press against the door.




I bent sideways and looked through the window again. One of the inhabitants of Grizzly Lake pressed himself against it. Using both his hands, he started beating a football against the window, until it broke. The ball shot in and out of the window and one of his hands began carefully breaking apart the glass.

I planted my feet and pressed backward against the door. If I had anything to do with it, they would not get into the cabin. Unfortunately, the force of the Grizzly Lake army became too powerful and I fell forward.

And then…

I saw Heather’s bare feet walk past me. Not scared and not screaming any longer, she put her hand on the doorknob and began turning it.

I got on my knees and began begging. “Don’t go, Heather. Please don’t go. I love you so much. You’re not a burden. I don’t mean to think that. I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to be without you.” I reached toward her. “We can fix this. We can make you better. I promise. Please, Heather. Don’t go.”

She turned back and put the homecoming crown on her head. “I love you, too, little brother. You are the greatest thing that ever happened to me.”

She opened the door and a hand reached into the cabin to invite her out. She looked back one last time, blew me a kiss, and smiled for the first time since before my parents died. She accepted the hand from Grizzly Lake and walked into the darkness. The door closed behind her.

The screaming stopped and all of Heather’s pain was sucked out of the cabin.

Rating: 8.57/10. From 7 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Drew Stepek
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Drew Stepek

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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