Disclaimer: This is a fan fiction based on the 2002 movie, Cabin Fever. The characters and settings of Cabin Fever described in this story remain the property of their original owners. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.
Paul laid on the bed for ages, staring up at the poorly-finished, uneven planks of the ceiling in catatonia of rage and dread. He knew he would have to get up eventually, but he didn’t want to. He didn’t want to have to face her. He didn’t want to face him.
He could hear the sounds of breakfast outside: chairs moving, utensils striking plates and bowls, people talking.
He thought about just staying put and waiting for the others to finish so he could slink out unnoticed. But the longer he stayed holed-up in his room, the more likely it was that someone would stick their head through the door to check that he was alright; possibly Karen.
No. He had to face them sooner or later and he wanted to do it on his terms.
He got up, got dressed and with a mighty sigh of resignation, opened the door. He proceeded down the cabin’s narrow hallway and then turned right, into the small kitchen/dining area. Jeff and Karen were sitting at the table. Bert was manning the stove. Karen was the first to notice his presence.
“Hey!” she greeted with a friendly grin.
“Morning,” Paul acknowledged her, forcing a polite smile. He took the seat right next to Jeff and before long, Bert had served a plate of steaming bacon strips right up in front of him. Paul restrained himself to making a curt mumbling sound and hoped it would pass for an acceptable “thank you.”
He picked at his breakfast and watched in anguished silence as the banter between the trio continued.
He tried to gauge the current situation between Bert and Karen. Karen seemed more or less at ease around Bert and for some reason that made Paul’s stomach sink. He wondered if she didn’t even remember having sex with him. She had been extremely drunk at the time, after all. But the more he scrutinized the way they spoke to one another, the more he got the impression that she was well aware of what they’d done.
Bert seemed to be engaging with her much more than normal. Hidden within the small talk, Paul could see that Bert was even giving her some good-natured ribbing. Karen tolerated it with a smile, even if she didn’t particularly enjoy it. Near as Paul could tell, Karen wasn’t happy that she’d fucked Bert. But instead of being mortified by her poor judgement, as Paul might’ve hoped, Karen only seemed mildly embarrassed about the situation.
People have a saying about colossal social mistakes, “One day we’ll look back on this and laugh.” The implication being that that “one day” will be years, maybe decades away. But Paul got the distinct impression that for Bert and Karen that day was already here - and that cut through him like glass.
Marcy showed up after a few minutes and after the standard morning pleasantries, took the seat on the opposite side of Jeff. Her relationship with Bert seemed frosty as ever. Though oddly, Marcy seemed to be the hostile one this morning, while Bert was being uncharacteristically considerate. But Paul was too torn up with grief to care about their strange role-reversal.
By the time he’d cleared his plate, Paul had heard as much of Bert’s jovial banter with his poached love as he could stand. He just wanted to get out of there, away from both of them and spend some time alone to clear his head. He cleared his place as quickly as he could without drawing attention to himself and then tried to slip out of the cabin unnoticed.
“Hey, where you going?” Karen asked warmly.
She caught him just as he was about to step out the front door. Paul had no response prepared, but he surprised himself with just how quickly he was able to invent one.
“Oh, one of my CDs is missing. I think I must’ve left it down on the beach, so I’m just going to go find it,” he told her in a deadpan tone that couldn’t match her friendliness.
He’d noticed during breakfast that someone had considerately carried his boombox back to the cabin last night, along with his CD pouch. He hadn’t checked it, but he just assumed everything was there.
“Well, hold up! Let me come with you!” she requested. He could see she still had a sausage and a half left on her plate, but they wouldn’t take long to finish.
“No, that’s okay. It shouldn’t take long,” he declined. “You finish your breakfast.”
He rushed out and closed the door behind him before anyone else decided to stall him.
His pace was brisk as he left the cabin, but as soon as he was out of its view, he started dragging his heels. He was in no hurry to get where he was going because he was in no hurry to get back.
He had nowhere particular to go, so by default he headed back down to the beach. Once he got there though, he immediately regretted the decision. This was where it had happened; the ‘scene of the crime’ as it were. What a stupid idea it had been to come here! The fury he had sought to escape suddenly returned, burning from within like an acute case of reflux. His body began to seize up like the rusty Tin Man as he passed the exact spot where the deed had been done.
With a huff, he powered on, continuing down the beach. Gradually, his furious charge simmered down to a calm, maudlin stroll.
He pined for the part of Karen that had been lost. He couldn’t put a name to it, but she had definitely lost something. She no longer gave him the rush of joy that she once did. He no longer felt drawn to her.
Of course, he’d known that she wasn’t a virgin for some time now and it hadn’t much bothered him. But seeing Bert’s naked body pumping away at her with his own eyes was something else entirely. Seeing her like that... well, it just soured the image. The fun memories he had of her no longer seemed fun, the romantic moments no longer seemed romantic. All the goodness in his life that revolved around that beautiful girl with the heart-warming smile wasn’t so good now that she was the same girl who had been lying naked in the sand with a look of stupefied satisfaction upon her face.
Paul didn’t keep track of the time. By the time he struck an impassable section of the shoreline, he guessed he’d been walking for an hour and a half. He likewise guessed he’d been walking for the same length of time again when he returned to the path that led back to the woods. Despite having spent the better part of the morning in solitary contemplation, Paul still didn’t feel like returning to the cabin. Not yet.
A little ways in to the woods, he came to a familiar fork where the right path led back to the cabin. He veered left.