Topic : Quicksand by Andrew Thomas Prenger


 A little overview of what’s going on here.  We’ve started a Write Club Spokane sort of thing.  We choose topics and write a short story about them.  Currently it’s Andrew, Patrick, Matt, and a new member, Eva.  That said, here’s an entry.-

by Andrew Thomas Prenger

My first thought, stupid as it was, the moment my foot started sinking into the ground was “who gets trapped in quicksand nowadays?” It was some stupid trope from adventure films of the sixties. Nobody ever showed it happening anymore. Now the hero dodged animals or monsters, maybe the jungle around them came alive, but never quicksand, not anymore.

I didn’t even know it existed outside of the jungle. Shows what I knew. Here I was in a gravel quarry to go shooting and already I was shin deep in sinking muck. I laughed to myself. This was so stupid. I tried lifting my right foot out only to feel my left sink deeper. That caused my heart to quicken a bit. It was at this point I decided I should ask my friend for help.

“Hey, Tommy, I seem to be having a little problem here…” I tried to keep the panic out of my voice. I was over-thinking this. He would pull me out and we’d have a laugh. Instead my panic increased when I heard the unmistakable sound of a shotgun being racked behind me.

“Yeah, you’re going to have bigger problems than that,” Tommy said.

I looked over my shoulder and sure enough Tommy was aiming his shotgun right at me.

“Hey, uh, Tommy? What are you doing?”

“Take your gun and throw it away.”

“What?”

“I said do it!”

Slowly I un-slung my own shotgun from my shoulder and tossed it what I thought was a decent distance to my right. It wasn’t far enough from whatever I was stuck in and it started sinking too. By now the cool muck was up to my thighs and creeping towards my crotch. My testicles started to ascend in preparation, like slowly wading into a cold river to swim.

“Happy now?”

“Actually, yeah.”

“What?” I lurched around toward him. It was hard and caused me to sink another few inches but I was turned enough towards him now I didn’t have to awkwardly peer over my shoulder.

He no longer had the gun trained on me, which was a small relief. I still kept my hands raised because I didn’t want them touching the muck and getting stuck like my legs.

“This is much better for me, Ryan.”

“What are you talking about?”

“If this hadn’t happened…I was going to shoot you today. Say it was an accident.”

“What? Why?”

“For Sarah.”

Sarah was my girlfriend. We’d been together for four years.

“What’s she got to do with it?”

“With you out of the way then we can be together.”

“That doesn’t make any sense. You have to be delusional if you think that she’s going to fall madly in love with the man who shot her boyfriend!”

“I’m not that stupid, dude. This was her idea.”

That hit me like a punch to the stomach. I wanted to ask why, but I couldn’t seem to get any air. I loved her. Not only did she want my best friend, she wanted me dead. Tommy explained it without me even having to ask the question.

“She thinks you guys have grown apart. Also, seriously, you’re doing nothing with your life. She doesn’t want to be hooked to a loser. You’ve been at the same job since before you two met. If she stays with you that’s it for her. But me? I’m going places. They’re putting me on the fast track at the company. Pretty soon I’m going to be a CEO.”

“I don’t think they promote people who kill people.”

That knocked Tommy off balance for a moment. His face grew concerned. Out of everything he thought he was going to do, he didn’t think about that? I loved the guy, up until a few minutes ago anyway, but he wasn’t the smartest person I’d ever met. Fun as hell to hang out with, but a bit dim. He honestly thought he was going places because he was smart. The truth was that his father was a well-known and well-respect lawyer in the city. The only reason Tommy got promoted over me at the office was at his father’s requests.

“I…well, I mean, now I don’t have to, do I? Now you’re going to sink and then Sarah and I can be together. Everybody wins.”

“Except me. Because I’ll be dead. Because you killed me.”

“You stepped in that stuff by yourself!”

“You were going to shoot me if I didn’t! All because of a fucking girl!”

He aimed the gun back at me, “Don’t you talk about her that way!”

“Or what? You’ll kill me before I die! Go right ahead!”

He racked the shotgun again. That was pointless. All it did was eject the shell he already had chambered.

I didn’t care that he was pointing the gun at me. The sadness I’d felt before after hearing about him and Sarah was replaced by anger. Now Tommy looked as angry as I felt. I thought I pushed him far enough that he was actually going to shoot me. Then that passed. I saw his face change again, this time his eyes narrowed, still looking at me like he had unraveled some plot I had against him.

“I see what you’re trying to do. You want me to shoot you. That way when the cops find the body they’ll see that you were dead before you got swallowed by the Earth.”

Yep. That was classic Tommy thinking right there. He still intended on telling the police about this to cover himself. It didn’t occur to him that he could just walk away and wait for someone to notice I’m missing and then act like he didn’t know where I was. Instead he was going to lead people directly to my corpse.

“I’m going to go now, Ryan.”

“Tommy, please…”

“I can’t help you now.”

“I know that, but please, why did I have to die? Couldn’t Sarah try talking to me? Why didn’t she just break up with me?”

Again, a look of confusion crossed over his face.

“I don’t actually know. I forgot to ask that.”

“Perfect. Awesome. Now go fuck yourself.”

Tommy made to raise his shotgun again, but thought better of it. Then he turned and walked off back towards the car. Only once did he look back to me. Soon he was out of sight.

After a period of time where I was sure he wasn’t coming back did I slowly start making my way towards the edge of the soft ground. Tommy hadn’t noticed during the end of our conversation that I had stopped sinking. I guess the pit was actually fairly shallow. I was surprised myself when I did touch firm ground. I almost goofed and let Tommy know.

After a few minutes of slogging forward I managed to pull myself out onto the ground. I wanted to lay there and catch my breath, think of what just happened, but I had to get moving. There was a chance Tommy would come back and would be stupid enough to shoot me. Also, I had a police report to file.

I stood up and patted my pockets. I was just making sure my keys were still in there. Through all this I guess Tommy forgot that I drove. He was going to have to walk the twenty miles back to the city. More than likely I was going to pass him by as I drove to the police station.

I had some stupid friends.

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