This week we hit into some oddities. The challenge at Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds blog is a continuation from last week. Last week laid the ground work with the opening lines. This week the idea was to pick an opening line from last week and use it to start a story.
You would think that this would be all well and good. It’s never quite that easy. I did have a false start with this one. That piece was more like a prologue to the story you are about to read. I didn’t like it but of course I did save the words (you never know where they might come back again). What I did find is this piece.
This one hit into the bizarro area. I seem to find those pretty well. Of course, you may be disappointed. The only death in the piece happens off camera. We don’t get to see much gore maybe…
“I know it sounds bad, but I can explain,” he said. Terry looked out over the river, into the trees on the other shore, anywhere but the body at his feet.
“I’m sure you have a great explanation for this but right now isn’t really the time,” Eric said. “We need to get her body into the river and out of sight quick before someone finds her here.” At his full height Eric stood a head shorter than Terry, but he kept his head in tough situations. “I’ll grab her feet, you need to lift her torso. We can throw her in on three.”
Terry looked down at Eric and the body. “Are you sure I shouldn’t just talk to the cops? I don’t know what happened to her but I didn’t do it. I swear I didn’t.”
“I don’t care right now, man. Let’s get this thing out of here. We can figure out the rest later.” He locked Terry’s eyes with his own. “No cops. You understand me? No cops.”
Terry bent at the knees and reached under her shoulders. “She was so pretty,” he said. He leaned forward and touched his lips to hers. “Why Anne? Why did you have to go?” He recoiled away from the smack against the top of his head.
“She’s dead man,” Eric said. “What the hell’s wrong with you? You can’t go about kissing dead women. It’s disgraceful and unsanitary.”
“I loved her,” he said. “I need to say good bye my way.” Terry traced his fingertips across her cheek, to her lips. Cold, blistering cold met his gentle caress. The ache he felt in his heart at her death burned him with the cold of her unmoving body.
“Can we do this now?” Eric asked. “I have other places I still need to be.”
Terry looked down at Eric. Smug, unfeeling, he couldn’t think of why he asked him to come help him. Actually, that wasn’t right. He knew exactly why he called him. Eric wouldn’t ask question, didn’t care why he was here, and would do what he needed to do to get the work done. It wasn’t friendship really. Terry suspected that if circumstances changed, Eric wouldn’t hesitate to turn him in. Sure he owed Terry a favor, and this was a pretty big favor, but that only went so far.
He leaned down with his hands under her shoulders. They stripped the clothes from her body, and left little to grab onto for the task at hand. But Eric said that the naked body would slip down to the bottom of the river bed better than if it still had the clothes on it. Terry didn’t question the logic at all, instead he hoped that it all worked out as Eric suggested it would.
“On three swing back and then on the upswing we can release,” Eric said. “We should get some good distance that way.”
Terry nodded. Eric’s demeanor calmed him and he had confidence in Eric’s skills for this. Never occurred to him to ask how Eric knew so much about disposing a body. Some things were better left unknown, he thought.
They heaved the body into the river. Terry watched as the water pulled it away, dragged it down to the sand and the rocks below. Eric grabbed his pack and didn’t bother to look back at Terry or the body as it disappeared.
“Thanks for the help,” Terry said to his back.
“We’re even,” Eric said then slipped into the trees, gone from view.
Terry glanced around the clearing. The moss remained undisturbed. Sturdy moss that absorbed their foot prints and movements as they scuffled around the area. He and Anne planned a restful lunch under the willow.
He walked around the area and picked up the detritus of their lost afternoon. Though they hadn’t spent long on their picnic, the basket had been kicked over and spread around the area. Aside from the body tossed into the river, little of the rest of the afternoon was clear in his mind.
A few bites of potato salad, he remembered those. Anne made the best. Creamy, with chunks of red skin potatoes and peppers, sometimes she slipped a jalapeno in to keep him guessing. But no more. He didn’t even know her recipe.
He punched the old willow in an effort to remember the afternoon. Though this did little to jog his memory. Other than the moment he found Anne beside him on the ground, the last he remembered was the potato salad and her laugh.
That was it, her laugh, high pitched like screams, she laughed so hard. But from a short distance away, like it was in a different room. They had been separated. Cold steel, so very cold, caressed his skin, all over his body. The frozen kiss of a prod explored his body.
And then he saw his wrists, the bite and burns as he pulled and fought restraints. Only an afternoon. Terry knew it had been only an afternoon since their picnic. But now Anne was gone. She fought so hard. Her laughing screams as they explored and tested her body. But not only her screams. His screams had echoed hers.