Running through the forest at night is a terrible idea. Chris knows this, yet still, somehow, here he is. Legs burning, chest heaving, leaping over logs and skidding on new-formed ice. He’s been up on this stupid mountain for over half a year, now. He should know better.
Somewhere behind him, much too close for comfort, he can hear the gentle pffat pffat of new-season snow being dislodged from branches. It’s the only sound he’s got to go on. The only way he can judge just how close he is to the feel of sharp claws, closing around his chest. Of huge fangs, pressed hard against his jugular.
Yeah. He is so, so screwed.
The path dips ahead, a mini-canyon cut across it from previous snow melts. Chris knows it's there—he’s walked this way a million times—and yet, somehow, he still misjudges the land. Still feels that awful lurch as his boot hits ice, as the ground refuses to stay still beneath his weight. He doesn’t go down, but it’s close, and it loses him precious seconds. The susurration is getting closer, and Chris swears—no point trying to be stealthy—reaching into his jacket pocket.
There’s one flare here, because there always is. Safety first, bro, Josh would say, all dumb and crooked grin. Chris hates wasting flares, it feels like cheating, but his ankle aches and the sound is almost on him. So he pops the cap and strikes it, the flare doing its thing just in time to draw a pained shriek from the branches up above.
Close, too close.
Chris makes a decision, veering left, not right. Not back towards the cabin, towards safety, but away from it. The light hasn’t bought him much time, but hopefully it’s enough and… yes! There it is, just up ahead.
The device is something Chris rigged up earlier, back when the sun was awake and the wendigo weren’t. Nothing fancy, just a mass of sandbags attached to a zip line. He supposes now is as good a time as any to see if it works.
There’s a small bucket pinned to the line, and Chris dumps the flare inside, hauls off his jacket, and throws it on the bag. Then he gives the whole contraption a massive kick, sending it whizzing down its cord.
A second later, the bushes above his head explode into movement. Chris slams his eyes shut, barely daring to breathe as a sleek, dark shape lurches past him, following light and motion and the scent of Chris’ sweaty jacket.
Oh, fuck, he thinks. It worked.
He allows himself one tiny quiet moment of victory. Then he’s off again, lurching back towards the cabin. Back towards the dull gold glow of safety, of home, of his boots hitting the boards of the porch and his fingers closing around the doorknob and—
—and a heavy weight against his back. The force of it sends him slamming against the door, pinning him to the wood. Chris can feel sharp claws close around his shoulders, feel hot breath against his neck, feel the edges of fangs brush his skin as a hungry mouth opens and says:
“Gotcha! You’re so dead, bro!”
Chris sighs, pushes Josh back just enough to turn so that they’re chest-to-heaving-chest.
“I’m at the door!” Chris protests, which just earns him a jag-toothed laugh.
“Not inside, though. Dead is dead, bro. You lost!” A pause, then: “Though the thing with the zip line was cute. When’d you do that?”
Chris smirks. “Today. While you were asleep.”
“Dedicated,” Josh says. “I got your jacket, by the way”—he hefts the item in question—“’s why I was late catching you.” He looks so pleased with himself.
“Now now, bro. Don’t be bitter just ‘cause you’re dead. You know the rules: dead men clean bathrooms.”
Chris groans. This earns him a laugh, and a purr, and a set of big fangs, pressed against his neck. Chris leans his head back, hand coming up to run through Josh’s hair, knotted and wild from his run. Chris lets his fingers card through the strands, brush across the bony little nodules from Josh’s shed antlers. If he has to lose, he supposes he can at least enjoy it.
He arches, bringing a thigh up to rub between Josh’s. “You know,” Chris says. “I can think of something else that we can do…”
“Mm,” Josh says, voice a muffled rumbled against Chris’ neck. “Necrophilia. Kinky.”
“I know,” Josh says, body undulating, knuckles brushing against Chris’ flanks beneath his shirt. “How ‘bout, you clean the bathroom. Then we fuck in it?”
“I dunno,” Chris counters. “Fallout 4 came out today. I could play that, instead.”
This earns him a growl. “Pretty nerdy for a dead man, Cochise.”
Chris just laughs, pulls Josh’s face up to his, and kisses him breathless between his big sharp teeth.