‘Why the fuck are we doing this?’ The cool air night choked his throat as he shouted; it was hardly above zero.
‘What?’ the other man shouted back.
Trees and shrubs grazed and slapped their legs as they ran. One of them stumbled but quickly recovered. There was no time for mistakes. Not now.
‘I said,’ he took another shallow breath as his lungs quickly filled with the icy air. ‘Why the fuck are we doing this.’
‘Oh,’ the other man shouted back. “Cos you said it would be a good idea.’ He jumped over a foot-high stone. ‘You said it’d be a damn good idea.’
‘Well, why in the hell did you listen to me?’
The two men had been running for several hours, taking small breaks along the way. This was the first time either of them had spoken since they started. Their bodies were already weak from the strain and needed to rest again.
The first man came to a sudden halt, then picked up the pace once more to trot along.
‘I can’t do it. We have to stop for a few minutes I-‘ he wheezed a little, ‘I can’t take much more of this.’ He sat down and crossed his legs.
‘Look, we have to keep going. That, that thing is after us and it’s all your damn fault. We wouldn’t be in this mess, running for our lives, screaming like little girls if it wasn’t for your bright idea.’ The man, tall and slender, examined his holster. Its occupant reflected a bit of moonlight, but not noticeable enough unless you knew what you were looking at.
The second man, still sitting, wheezed and coughed a few times. ‘My idea? My idea?! Who’s bloody wife did we just fucking bring back from the dead? Huh? Who’s whore wife did we just bring back from the fucking dead?’ He chuckled a little to himself. ‘Dead. Oxymoron.’
Dead, the first man thought to himself. ‘Well, she’s not dead anymore! I didn’t want to do it any more than you did. Ya’ know, I was happy living my life alone, and quiet.’
The second man whispered to himself, ‘You were miserable. I saw you cry a few times.’
The wind howled even more and blew a sound from the distance; a faint sound coming through the trees. Leaves rustled. Without the wind, you wouldn’t have heard it at all.
The two men looked up and toward the direction of the sounds.
‘We need to get going. If that thing catches up with us we’ll be in the papers next week, and not in a good way.’ He stood up, picked up his shovel, slung his bag over his shoulders, and began to jog.
‘That thing has a name. That thing was the love of my life.’ He began to jog as well. ‘That thing is my wife.’
‘That thing was your wife. There’s a difference now, remember? “Till death do you part,” and she looks pretty damn dead to me.’
The two men only jogged now. Neither of them had the strength to run at full pace.
It was an early Wednesday morning during May. Light wouldn’t break for a while, though the moon provided enough of it. The trees shook a little more as something left the forest and entered the clearing. It stood for a moment and only stared.
Both men stopped. They knew running any further was impossible; the stitches in their sides told them so. Would it even help if they continued on?
Both men turned around.
Their pursuer was now only a few feet from them. She stood silently as her dress blew in the wind. The last time she had worn this particular outfit was five years ago, and she had been the happiest woman in the world. At least she once thought she was.
Her head cocked to one side as she raised an arm and pointed at both men. ‘Assholes,’ she spurted out. ‘What the hell have the two of you done now?’
‘Now?’ Both men whispered at the same time.
‘Now. I shouldn’t be here. Couldn’t you just let me be in peace? I died happy, and I am happy.’ The wind changed direction and a faint smell of decay filled the air. It’s the same smell when opening a bag of bacon three days past its expiry date.
‘You died happy?’ The second man’s tall face turned a pale white as an expression of shock filled it. ‘You had a brain aneurysm while having sex with my brother!’ He took a deep breath. ‘And then my mother found you!’
Her voice was dry and croaky. ‘Yes.’
‘Yes? Yes?! That’s all you have to say? We’ve been married for five-.’
‘Put me back.’ Her voice was cold, colder than it had ever been. ‘Put me back on the ground, now.’ She was calm and collected as always.
The first man stared at his feet and whispered something.
She shouted, ‘What was that?’
He forced himself to look at her, holding onto his bag for security. ‘We can’t. This is permanent. We-‘
The newly animated figure lunged at the smaller man, grabbed his throat and forced him to the ground.
He tried to fight back, but she was surprisingly stronger than him. A faint whimper escaped his mouth.
‘If you assholes can’t put me back then I’ll kill you. I won’t be alone in this. I will kill you and bring you back as well,’ she screamed at him. Her grip tightened on his neck and his vision began to go black.
She looked at the taller man and whispered, ‘You’re next, Hubby.’
The ex-husband stood there, shocked and confused.
His best friend forced his eyes upwards and looked at his shocked companion. ‘G-g-g.’ He stammered. ‘G-g-g-uuu.’ The man took one last final breath, used all of his strength and forced out one final word. ‘Gun!’ His eyes shut.
The taller man looked down at this gun and stared at it. He thought about what she was screaming. Would she really bring them both back to join in the eternal Hell they had created? Was it now even a possibility?
It’s a difficult situation that a man faces: kill the love of your life or kill your best friend. Do you save him and live out your days miserable and alone, or do you cling to the blind hope that everything will be the same as it once was?
On that cold Wednesday morning, while the world around them still slept, a man reached for his side, pulled out the present his ex-wife had given him on his 26th birthday and cocked it. The wind had died down now, but it was still cold. The moon’s light was now dim as the first cracks of dawn pierced the sky.
Steam rose from the man’s nostrils as he breathed out and squeezed the trigger.
A gunshot rang out while the world still slept.