A Good Walk by Tim Craig

The body was found by a man out walking his dog, although we must be careful not to attach any significance to the presence of the man at the murder scene beyond the fact it was a nice day for a good walk in the woods.

 ‘Why couldn’t you just leave me here in peace?’ said the body.

‘I didn’t mean to disturb you,’ said the man. ‘The dog ran into the bushes and I followed him to see what he was barking at.’

‘Well now you’ve found me,’ said the body, ‘what are you going to do?’

The man thought for a moment. He was by nature indecisive, believing that life generally turned out better the fewer decisions you were forced to make. Certainly, he was already regretting his decision to follow the dog into the bushes. 

‘Maybe I should call for an ambulance,’ said the man.

‘It’s a bit late for that, don’t you think?’

The body had a point.

‘The police, then?’

‘Not the police. They’ll come poking and prodding and taking photos. And I really don’t want that, not in my condition.’

‘Well, I can’t just leave you here,’ said the man.

‘Why the hell not? I was perfectly fine until you and your fucking dog showed up.’

The man didn’t like the body’s tone, but he told himself that, were the roles reversed, he might also struggle to be entirely courteous.

He looked around the small clearing. The sunlight streamed through the branches, and somewhere close by a bird was singing, although he didn’t know what kind. The man supposed it wasn’t the worst place for a dead body to wind up.

‘I could re-bury you,’ said the man, finally. ‘I could go back home and get a shovel. It wouldn’t take more than half an hour to come back.’

‘And then you’d promise to leave me alone?’ said the body.

‘Yes,’ said the man.

‘Alright,’ said the body.

So the man tied the dog to a tree and went home to fetch a shovel. When he returned, he dug a shallow hole and rolled the body into it. He filled the hole with earth and patted it down.

‘Is that OK for you?’ he asked the body.

The reply was a bit muffled, so he took it as a yes.

The man covered the ground with a layer of twigs and leaves and then made the sign of the cross; although he wasn’t sure why, not being the least bit religious.

He untied the dog and ducked back out of the clearing. On regaining the path, he stood for a considerable while trying to decide which way to continue his walk.

Originally from Manchester, Tim Craig lives in London. In 2018 he won the Bridport Prize for Flash Fiction. His stories have also been placed twice in the Bath Flash Fiction Award and appeared in both the Best Microfiction Anthology and the BIFFY50.

Image: unsplash.com