Thick pillars of black dust spiral wildly into the midnight air, behind the tires of the old white truck barrelling away from the woods. It’s cold, dark and eerily quiet in this dense thicket just half a mile off the main highway, about 18 miles outside of the city.
...A perfect place for eternal rest.
Just out of sight from the turn onto the main road, the truck stops abruptly, two tail lights shining defiantly into the night, tires screeching to a halt along the dry earth.
Will Jackson sighs heavily as he stares out the windshield, teeth gnawing vigorously at his bottom lip. He’s just played the role of undertaker, but now his conscience is kicking in. Absolutely, the bitch deserved to fucking die for everything she’s done...but was he willing to live with the nightmare for the rest of his life? The sound of the dirt as it poured over her thin wooden coffin, slowly muffling her blood curdling screams. Did he have the courage to live with that inside his head as he lay down to sleep every night?
Despite the chill of the winter air, he’s sweating profusely and can’t seem to catch his breath. He rips down the zip of his hoodie and yanks the hood off his head with a growl, running his hands roughly through his sweat drenched hair. With a final sharp intake of breath he releases an animalistic cry, banging his hands violently against the steering wheel, palms stinging and bright red from the force of the blows.
He puts the truck back into gear and slams his foot on the accelerator, squalling the tires as he heads back into the direction he just came, rage and morality dueling in his tired mind.
He pulls up a few meters from the makeshift grave, turns off the ignition and sits in the cab for a long moment, mustering up the willpower to do what he came back to do. He gets out, zipping up his jumper and takes the ski mask from his pocket, pulling it over his head before topping it with the hood. He retrieves the shovel from the bed of the truck and walks with purpose back to the pile of branches he’d dragged over the freshly covered hole in the ground.
He’d expected to hear screams, but it’s deathly quiet and his heart begins to pound loudly in his ears as he realizes he might be too late. He digs at a frantic pace as he says a silent prayer, not for her sake, but for his own. He’s not prepared to live with the nightmares, after all.
When the shovel makes first contact with the thin wood of the box, he begins to hear the muffled cries from below the dirt. The terror that had been apparent in them before is gone, replaced by a hollow, almost ghost-like moan that he finds distinctively more unnerving.
Shoveling the last scoop of dirt from the top of the box, he turns back and stares into the hole, breathing heavy with exertion. She’s begging now, frantic but faint cries of “Please...help me” wafting up from beneath the long crack in the top of the box. He takes a moment, relishing the terror in her voice.
He leans in and sticks the tip of the shovel blade into the crack and wrenches it back, easing up as he hears the wood splinter further. With another strong pull, the lid breaks and a large chunk of wood flies back, opening to reveal the tortured soul within.
Her face is smeared with dirt, her hands bloody from her feverish clawing, now raised in defense as she anticipates a blow. Even in the pale moonlight he can see the raw horror in her eyes. He smirks beneath the nylon of the mask . So now the beast knows fear.
He stands there silently for an ominous pause as she watches him, frozen in place. Finally, he turns slowly and walks back to the truck, slamming the door as he gets in and burning the tires as he drives away.
Once he returns to the main road, he picks up the burner phone Jake had given him, dialing the number as he pulls off the ski mask.
“State Emergency Service. What’s your emergency?”
“Yea, I’d like to report a woman who I think might need assistance along C739, out by Mount Ridley.”
“Ok sir, are you with her now? Do you know her?”
“No. I was driving and passed her walking along the road. She was wearing a blue or green tracky, hard to tell in the dark. I tried to stop and ask her if she needed help, seemed a bit odd for her to be walking that stretch this late, but she just mumbled something and kept walking.”
“Alright sir, we’ll have the local police circle by to check it out. Would you like to leave your name and number for a call back?”
“Nah, it’s alright, just doing my public service.”
“Well thank you for the information sir and have a good night.”
“Yep, thanks. Bye.”
He throws the phone back into the console, a smug smile spreading across his lips.
He may not fit the role of executioner, but he’d be damned if justice wasn’t served.