Layan’s Cabin – The Ridge
Jaak shivered. He approached the door and knocked gently.
In reality it was only a moment, but in what felt like an eternity he heard the footsteps of someone approaching accompanied by a tap, tap, tap. Jaak’s thoughts raced, was Layan some kind of crazy peg leg pirate?
The door opened and the light from within spilled out on to the deck where Jaak continued to shiver in the cold.
A slightly weather worn, rustic looking snow leopard holding a wooden staff stood in the doorway and briefly appraised his unexpected evening visitor.
Layan: Well hello there young cub. Now what might bring you all the way up here just as it is getting dark? Never mind that – come in out of that nor’ lazy wind before your paws freeze to my deck.
Jaak still slightly in awe of his situation, stumble-tumbled his way in to the warm and cozy cabin.
Jaak: Oh, um, hello I’m Jaak, I’m Altai’s son, I came up the hill to try and get some Tet-Net signal, and I lost track of time and then it got dark and cold and now I don’t know how I’m gonna get back down in the dark and yeah – I decided to come and knock on your door, I’m awfully sorry to bother you…
Jaak’s words tumbled out like his stumbled entry into the cabin.
Layan: Ok ok, my young cub, lets slow this all down a bit, my ears aren’t quite as young as they used to be – but you are very welcome and of course we’ll get you all sorted out. Come over here by the wood stove and you can get warmed up. I hope you like fish gumbo because – if I do say so myself, which I frequently do – I make a pretty good one and it is almost ready.
It was then that Jaak began to take in some of the sights and smells of the cabin. A delicious fishy aroma intermingled with aromatic spices was indeed wafting up from a heavy cast iron pot gently bubbling away which was sitting on the wood burning stove. Jaak suddenly realized he was ravenously hungry. He had not had anything to eat since lunchtime and his late afternoon hike up the hill.
Jaak: Thanks! I’m starving! I love fish gumbo!
In little time, Layan had extracted two wooden bowls out of his side table, ladled a generous serving of chunky fish gumbo into each of them and set them on a small table.
Layan: Come young cub, sit.
In typical teenage fashion and with little thought to polite conversation Jaak eagerly and ravenously devoured the contents of his bowl. It was delicious. Layan was patient with his young guest and waited until he was finished before speaking again.
Layan: So then, you are Altai’s boy. I had heard that you had come to live in the valleys. How do you like it here? Did you manage to get any Tet-Net signal?
Layan posed this last question with a knowing glint in his eye and with the faintest hint of a slight toothy smile. He knew only too well that Jaak would have been unlikely to get any reliable signal even up on the ridge, and that he certainly would not have any signal further down at the bottom of the valley where he lived.
Jaak: Yes, I’m Altai’s son. I came here after my mum died. It is pretty different here – it takes a while to get used to toilets that don’t flush, and no, I only got a brief signal and I was only able to talk to my friend in Aoraki for a minute.
Layan: Well then. We might have to try and do something about that eh. Well not about the toilets – but the Tet-Net signal? Maybe there is something we could do about that.
Jaak looked at Layan with a slightly bemused and skeptical expression.
Jaak: What can you do about that? I didn’t see any satellite dish on your roof.
Layan: Chuff-chortle! You’ll see.
Layan walked over to what looked like a plain hutch dresser that looked entirely in keeping with the basic furnishings of the cabin. Then with a small click the panels slid open and to Jaak’s utter astonishment there appeared a bank of blinking computer displays, a keyboard and other modern electronic computer equipment. There was also what looked like a vintage ham radio with a pedestal microphone attached.
Jaak: Holy Shiiiieet… erm…vers!
Jaak suddenly realised a moment too late that perhaps he should moderate his potty mouth in front of someone he had only just met. Layan for his part didn’t seem offended.
Layan: Heh. Well first things first eh. We better let your Dad know you are safe, so he won’t worry.
Layan flicked some switches on the old ham radio and turned a couple of the dials. In a few moments once the valves inside had started to warm, a faint hiss and crackle began to emanate from the speaker. A few more adjustments were made and finally the hiss faded. Layan then took the large microphone in his paw and activated the push to talk switch.
Layan: Tree Cat, Tree Cat, this is Ridge Cat do you receive over!
Hiss. Crackle. Knob adjustment.
Layan: Tree Cat, Tree Cat, this is Ridge Cat calling. Do you receive over!
Voice: Ridge Cat, Ridge Cat, this is Tree Cat! Receiving you loud and clear over!
Layan: Tenzing! Good to hear you buddy! I have that young cub, Jaak up here in my cabin. He decided to go for a hike in the snow on his own, and well… it got dark and the aroma of my fish gumbo got the better of him and he decided to stay for supper! Can you get up to Altai’s cabin and let him know he is safe for the night – I’ll see him safely back down the trail in the morning once this old nor’ lazy has blown through – over!
Tenzing: Oh fer sure I can do that. Jaak’ll be just fine with you. I’ll jump in me truck and git up there straight away, before ol’ Altai wears out his floor-boards with his frettin’, and calls in the mountain safety rescue – ‘though he still might, once he learns where his boy is! – over!
Jaak still watching and listening to all this wide eyed, was certain he caught a chuff-chortle just as Tenzing’s last over clicked off.
Layan: The young cub and I are very much obliged Tree Cat! – This is Ridge Cat – out!
With that, the radio gave one last defiant hiss, and with a slight crackle Layan flipped the power switch and it fell silent.
Layan: Well now young cub – we better get you fixed up for the night. I’ve got a spare cot up in the rafters – how about you give me a hand to get it down?
Layan and Jaak then managed to maneuver the cot down from the rafters, without disturbing any of the myriad of other accoutrements stored in the rafters that may have fallen on their heads during the extraction. The cot was the old wooden type with cross legs and a canvas hammock. A few grey wool blankets and a patchwork quilt later, and the cot looked invitingly ready for a tired cub to curl up into for the night.
Layan: Oh yes, young cub, I almost forgot…
Layan tapped is way back over to his computer equipment and a couple of keyboard taps and mouse clicks later he turned to Jaak.
Layan: How about you try that signal on your phone again?
Jaak eagerly fished his phone out of his pocket, and to his delight it showed full bars of signal!
Jaak: I’ve got signal! That’s… that’s amazing! I haven’t had a connection for weeks! Thank you so much Layan!
Jaak then curled up on his bed and opened up his video calling app. Soon a familiar mop of orange hair and wet nose appeared on the screen.
Jaak: Dieter! You are never gonna believe what just happened to me today…!