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I had always been unlucky to realize my faults at the worst possible times. My neglectfulness had come back to bite me as my car made an awful croaking sound and crawled to a stop on a wooded back road in the middle of a thunderstorm. The Check Engine light had been on for weeks now, but I had just never gotten around to having it looked at. And besides, it wasn’t like I just had that kind of money laying around. I pounded my fist hard down on the dashboard with a loud scream—don’t do this to me now—but the old thing just wasn’t going to move.
The rain was coming down hard against the windshield and the only source of light was the occasional flashes of lightning that sent jagged shadows across the muddy road ahead of me. The cold from outside was slowly beginning to creep in from outside and digging its claws into my skin. I was so far out of town and I knew that there would be no-one around for help—not that I could even ask for help at this point. I remembered the delicate cargo that I had hidden away in my trunk and realized that I would have to get rid of it before I did anything else.
My hands were quickly going numb and I could barely hold my shovel properly as I began digging far off from the road. I was already exhausted just from dragging the thing this far. I had barely dug a foot when I was already starting to feel light headed and I knew that I couldn’t keep this up for long. I clenched my teeth to stop them from chattering, but it only caused an awful rattle in my brain. I looked down at the rolled up carpet at my feet—curse you for making me go through this.
There was a strong gust of wind that caused a large tree branch to come crashing down just a few feet away from me and I felt a light bulb go off in my head. I had heard the saying that when God closes a door, he opened a window, but I highly doubted that it was God that was with my tonight. I dragged the carpet into the pitiful hole that I had dug and camouflage everything with the downed branch. It wasn’t perfect, but it was the best that I could do at that moment.
I knew that I would have to find my way to shelter quickly or I would soon pass out. I could go back to the car, but I was already completely soaked through. I needed to be somewhere warm. Thankfully, I noticed a faint glow coming through the trees in the distance and let out a shaky sigh of relief. As I made my way closer, I could see that it was a cabin with smoke billowing out from its chimney. For a moment, the realization hit me that this cabin was just a little too close for comfort to what I had just buried, but I decided that I would have to worry about that later.
I gave a weak knock on the heavy door. My heart was pounding as I waited for the door to open. I tried to form a story as to why I was out here so late in this weather, but my mind was going numb along with the rest of me. I could hear the sound of movement on the other side of the door and I knocked again. Finally, the door slowly started to open and I could warmth from inside pulling me in. I tried to sputter out a few words the person at the door, but he cut me off: “Conner, what a surprise to see you.
”My eyes widened at the sight of my best friend looking back at me with a smirk on his face. I gulped and he gave me a strong pat on the back as he pulled me inside. It was warm inside the cabin, but somehow the air felt even colder than outside. He sat me down by the fire and took the seat opposite of me. He didn’t say anything for a good long time, he just stared me down and sipped at his coffee. I could feel a knot tightening in my stomach and I wondered if I could still make a run for it. “So, did you come here to finally apologize to me ?” he finally spoke.
I didn’t respond. Even if I knew what to say to him, it felt as though there was a noose slowly tightening around throat that was cutting off my breathing. Why him? How could he be here? The room was spinning and I gripped the arms of the chair to stabilize myself. My best friend must have found my answer from within my silence because he raised and let out a deep sigh. He took a long drink from his coffee and slammed it down onto the table beside him. “You know, I’ve put up with a lot from you, Conner,” he began to stand. “You’ve done a lot of bad things.”
He slowly stepped towards me as his lips curled down into a frown. I forced myself to nod as I still struggled to breath. This was a nightmare, it had to be. There was no way that this was happening right now. I was going to wake up at any moment safe and warm in my bed. He continued walking and stopped just behind me. I felt his cold hands wrap tightly around my neck as a tear fell from my eye. I pinched my thigh, but I wasn’t waking up. He brought his mouth down close to my ear: “You’re a very bad man, Conner.”
His grip tightened harder, and harder. Even though I was weak, I knew that I could overpower him—I had done it before. I clawed at his hands and was slowly able to pry them off. Air rushed into my lungs and I sprung for the door. As I ran out of the cabin, I could feel him following behind me. I made my way through the trees. It was almost impossible to see as rain filled my eyes, but somehow my feet led the way. Before I knew it, I found myself back at that downed tree branch.
I pulled the branch to the side and unwrapped the carpet, revealing what was hidden inside. There in the mud, I could see the face of my best friend : pale, wet, and absolutely lifeless. I could still hear the heavy footsteps behind me, but he was right here in front of me just as I had left him. I felt a hand come down hard onto my shoulder with enough force to crack bone. I turned to look at the face of my pursuer. I did not see that of my best friend, but instead that of death itself.
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