All Stories, Fantasy, General Fiction

Dying to Hike by Caleb James K.

A murder of crows squawked to each other from various treetops on the secluded mountain. Below, a tasty feast awaited them once the other woodland creatures had their fill; the killer hadn’t so much as thought about burying the two bodies.

“I can’t believe you let that guy kill you.”

“Dude, he killed you too.”

“No, I tripped and cracked my head open on a rock. Then he stabbed my lifeless corpse like the punk bitch he is.”

A warm ray of sunlight broke through the dense foliage and illuminated the two blood-caked corpses. The former inhabitants—now two disgruntled spirits looking over the scene with detached aloofness—argued over the minute details of their recent and nonconsensual departure from this mortal plane.

“I don’t get why you ran,” the spirit once known as Jerry said. “We could have taken him.”

The second spirit, known as Dylan when oxygen circulated his bloodstream—when he still had blood to stream—glared at spirit Jerry’s vaporous face. Even though the air around them now had the inexplicable consistency of molasses, which made moving a real chore, Dylan decided he would leave Jerry’s sorry ass after saying his piece.

“I ran because that giant hillbilly had a giant machete in his giant hand!” A spittle of ectoplasm shot from Dylan’s ghost lips. “Which should have been your first clue not to ask him for directions, dipshit.”

Phantom Jerry would’ve narrowed his eyes if he still had the muscles to make facial expressions. “One,” he said with an ethereal hiss, “I’m not a pussy like you. Two, we were lost. On the mountain that you wanted to hike, I might add. Three, I don’t judge people based on appearances like you. We needed directions and mountain man Cletus was probably the only person around for miles to ask.”

“He. Had. A. Bloody. Machete. In. His. Giant. Hand.” Dylan stomped his non-material foot with each word.

“I thought he was butchering a deer or something,” Jerry’s apparition said in a defensive tone. “At least you can’t say I judge people based on their looks.”

“You got us killed!”

“Maybe. But at least I was a good guy.”

With that, wraith Dylan turned and floated away. His mist-like constitution struggled to move through the dense air. If a strong gust came about, he worried it might carry him away. But that would still be better than spending any more time with such a buffoon.

“Where are you going?”

Jerry’s spirit voice drifted like a whispered dream. With Dylan leaving, and a hungry bear now filling up on his former meat vessel, it looked like he would be spending eternity alone. If that’s how it worked. He really didn’t know; death didn’t come with instructions.

The setting sun shed orange ripples over the mountain. With little left of their bodies, Jerry’s spirit watched in anguish as the crows finally swooped down to claim their leftovers. Dylan had disappeared some time ago and it would be impossible to locate his spirit now.

Having died and the afterlife looking to be a real shitshow, Jerry decided that maybe he shouldn’t have given that homicidal ogre the benefit of the doubt. Every once in a while it’s okay to judge people based on their appearance. At least when they’re over seven feet tall, brandishing a large murder weapon, and hanging out alone on a remote mountain.

Oh well, live and learn.

James K. Caleb


8 thoughts on “Dying to Hike by Caleb James K.”

  1. I enjoyed the banter between the two spirits, the humor and the lesson learned. (Hopefully it’s not politically incorrect to judge someone by their appearance when they’re brandishing a machete alone on a remote mountain.)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Caleb,
    This was that wee bit different and I loved the irony of learning a life lesson after death.
    It takes a confident writer to give us a story with no explanation about the realities or in this case unrealities of their situation. You just told us the story with their opinions aired and let any moral be ours to decide on.


  3. Great humour, perfect dialogue – tongue in cheek and irreverent in good measure. Reminded me a bit of the scenes in American Werewolf in London where those he’s killed revisit him. Really enjoyed this – thank you.


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