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Worst. Date. Ever!

An incident in the woods

By 𝐑𝐌 𝐒𝐭𝐨𝐜𝐤𝐭𝐨𝐧Published 9 months ago Updated 9 months ago 11 min read
Top Story - October 2023
Worst. Date. Ever!
Photo by Alaa44 Aloush on Unsplash

Chapter 1: An incident in the woods

The voices in my head shattered the still silence. My instincts urged me to run – get as far away as I could. On my paltry savings, however, I would never get far. “My life is over,” I muttered in helpless surrender.

“Get rid of the evidence!” my mind screamed. “It’s your only chance!”

I scanned the area for a makeshift shovel. Nothing. I don’t make a habit of carrying a shovel around in the trunk of my car; nonetheless, I sprinted to the car clinging to some hope that I might find something — anything there that would allow me to dig a hole.

I paused to calm my nerves. “Catch your breath, Frank. Catch your breath!”

Lug wrench. Check. Tire jack. Check. Folding lawn chairs. Check. Reusable grocery bags. Check. Jumper cables. Check. Golf clubs. Check.

“Good lord, what was I thinking carrying all this worthless junk around with me?” Hell, I haven’t even golfed in over three years, and I joined the Auto Club Christmas before last. These jumper cables are never going to get used!

In the movies, they always have a shovel in their trunk, but that just ain’t reality. I didn’t come into the woods with any notion that I was going to need to bury a body. Who does that? I don’t even own a shovel!

I fumbled with the tire iron and jack base, summoning my inner MacGyver. The night was cool, but until that moment, I had been pretty much numb to it. I’d barely even noticed. As I desperately tried to fashion a shovel, however, my fingers ached from the cold.

Somehow, I must have cut my hand, and now it was bleeding profusely. “I don’t recall doing that.” The last five minutes of my pathetic life were a bit of a blur.

My heart raced with panic.

I wrapped my hand rather haphazardly with a grocery bag.

“Don’t leave DNA evidence,” my inner voices urged. I have watched enough episodes of Forensic Files to know that I was botching this big time! “Pull yourself together, Frank! Think, dammit. Think!”

I hadn’t dug a hole since my Boy Scout days, and even then, never more than just a camp latrine or post hole. I set to work with my makeshift shovel, and it was immediately apparent I would never manage to dig a hole big enough for a body. Not with these tools.

“I need to come up with a better plan,” I told myself. “I could take her body down to Harper Lake. Perhaps if I weighted it down, the body would stay at the bottom of the lake.”

“Just call the police,” I tried to reason. I never intended to hurt her. If she hadn’t fought me so damn hard, this would have never happened. “Damn it! How did this get so out of control?”

Explaining this away might be my best option. I had talked myself out of more than a few fixes in my life, but this was a new level of trouble, to be certain. “They’ll never believe me! They’ll fry me for sure!”

“I need to take a moment to clear my mind,” I finally resolved. I fumbled to light a cigarette and walked down toward the river bank. Darkness blanketed the path like velvet. Perhaps I could ditch her body down by the river, I pondered. She might not be discovered ‘til spring, and by then, any evidence might be destroyed. My concentration was broken by the sound of a pack of coyotes howling. “That sounded pretty close,” I shuddered.

“Anchoring her body to the bottom of Harper Lake is my best plan,” I finally concluded. “I have an old tarp and some duct tape at home in the garage, and I can pick up enough heavy rocks down by the lake to sink her for good.”

I knew stopping to purchase any of the supplies was not a prudent option. Nor was loading her body into my trunk without first wrapping it up to contain any traces of evidence. I would have to leave her body here and return with the tarp. “I need to be smart. I don’t want to leave a trail of DNA tying me to a murder scene.”

“Cell phone towers. Damn it!” It occurred to me that both of our phones would be pinging off nearby towers lighting up our location like the Griswold’s.

“Turn off the phones!” I rustled through Linda’s purse. Wallet, keys, makeup case, pill bottle . . . but no phone. “It must be in her pocket.” I scanned my hands across the outside of her jeans. “Bingo!”

“Wait! Don’t turn it off.”

Our phones would have already revealed our location. I need to throw investigators off this trail, I calculated.

“I have Linda’s keys. I’ll take her purse and phone to her apartment.”

“Why did I touch her phone and purse? Now my fingerprints are all over them!”

“I’ll wipe them clean of prints.”

“What did I do with my cigarette butt? Damn! I’m really screwing this up. Big time!”

I gathered up the makeshift shovel, Linda’s purse and phone, and loaded it all in my trunk. Then, I hastily covered Linda’s lifeless body with some branches and leaves. “I’ll be back,” I promised her, doing my best Terminator impression.

Sorry. You’re probably wondering how I got myself into this mess. I’m not a killer; I’m as gentle as a teddy bear, in fact. And I’m perfectly sane, in case you were wondering. This was a first date. I had practically been dared into it by everyone at the office. “Take the new girl out,” they urged. “Show her a good time.”

Linda wasn’t a bad-looking gal, and it had been nearly six months since my last real date. Why not, I figured. Sure, she seemed a bit odd, but beggars can’t be choosers, right? I’m nearly forty, and it’s not like I have women beating down a path to my door. Besides, I had nothing better to do with my Friday evening. I’d lower my standards for a night — call it charity!

What could possibly go wrong? Famous last words!

The date had started innocently enough. Pizza and a couple of beers down at Tony’s. We laughed and had a pretty good time. Linda was actually pretty funny and down-to-earth. Her laugh was almost mesmerizing, in fact.

“I wonder who saw us?” I asked myself, as my mind wandered back to Tony’s.

It was a beautiful, brisk autumn evening, so I suggested coming down to “The Timbers”. When I was younger, I used to come here with my friends. We would drink, smoke, play music, dance. Then drink some more. If you got lucky, you might even pair up for some heavy necking. Nowadays, this place is pretty much abandoned. The kids must have found a better place to party. Either that or the cops just got wise to this spot.

I took a deep breath. “Keep it together, Frank!” My plan was set. Drop off Linda’s phone and purse, being cautious not to leave any fingerprints or DNA evidence behind. Run home, and grab the tarp and tape. Leave my phone at home. “I don’t need to leave a new trail of cell tower pings.” Come back, load her body up, and then take it down to Harper Lake.

I still hadn’t worked out how I would get her body out deep enough to sink it. “One step at a time,” I reassured myself.

I had a frantic urge to speed as fast as I could, but I knew that getting pulled over now would kill any alibi. “Obey the traffic laws,” I reminded myself, trying to calm my nerves.

All along my course, I was scanning my eyes for anywhere that might have security cameras, but there are so many these days that they are simply unavoidable. Still, I decided I would take a different route on my way back, just to be extra cautious.

As I rounded the corner at Market Street, the thought struck me that perhaps I should circle around and park behind Linda’s apartment building. “Stay in the shadows, and avoid being seen,” I coached myself aloud.

I pulled to a stop on 2nd Street, turned the car off, retrieved Linda’s belongings from the trunk, and then grabbed a handful of napkins from my console. “Wipe down your fingerprints, and don’t touch anything else,” I reminded myself.

“Which apartment is hers?” I wondered. I’d picked her up out front just a few short hours ago, but I had no idea which unit she stayed in. I picked her wallet up by a napkin to check her Driver’s License. “Nope, that must be an old address.” A small envelope in her purse, however, supplied what I was seeking: “Apartment B-4.”

I didn’t think Linda had a roommate, but I realized I really didn’t know much about her. “Gotta take my chances,” I said in reassurance.

Thankfully, the apartment was dark and seemingly unoccupied. As I quietly slipped her door open a crack, another horrifying thought hit me. “Pooch,” I quietly called out. “Buddy?” Nothing. Whew!

I made my hushed way through her apartment without turning on the lights, and I gently deposited Linda’s purse and phone on her kitchen counter.

As I quietly slipped back into the night, I encountered another minor problem; you cannot lock the apartment door without the key, and I needed to leave the keys inside. “Leave it unlocked,” I quickly decided. “I don’t have time for this.”

Once back at my house, I wasted no time loading a tarp and roll of duct tape into my trunk. I bandaged my hand up, then I took my phone inside, put it on my charger, and then, just for good measure, I sent a quick text message to Linda’s phone:

“Thanks for a wonderful evening. 😊 See u Monday at work.”

SEND

I cracked a devilish smile at this clever move.

“It’s time to finish this up,” I prompted myself, and with that, I charted my path back to The Timbers.

I backed my car up to the campsite and popped the trunk open. It was midnight. “That took longer than I had anticipated.” I felt a sense of panic urging me to work quickly.

“A flashlight would have been a good thing to grab,” I said, shaking my head. The trees choked out any moonlight.

I fumbled my way through the darkness. “What the heck?! Where’s the body?” There was no sign of Linda’s body.

“I’m sure I left it right here!”

“Wild dogs?” I wondered aloud.

I closed the trunk and spun the car around to use the headlights. There was not only no trace of Linda’s body, but in this lighting, I could find no evidence of any wild dogs having been there, either.

“How can this be happening?” I paced the area, desperately searching for any clues. “There was no doubt Linda was dead.” That much I knew. Coyotes had been close by. They must have dragged her body away.

I searched the area for at least an hour, but I couldn’t see a thing in the darkness. Finally, I abandoned my search. “I will have to return in the daylight. This is impossible.” In defeat, I headed home.

My early Saturday morning search uncovered no more clues. It was as if her body had simply vanished into thin air.

I spent the remainder of my weekend pacing around the house, waiting for investigators to knock at my door anytime, and doubled over with severe stomach cramps and nausea. The waiting game was excruciating: like a fly trapped in a web, waiting for the spider’s deadly visit.

In my mind, I replayed the fateful evening. “My life is over.” I knew it was only a matter of time before someone found Linda’s body, and I would be suspect number one.

I wondered if anyone was looking for her yet, Linda had been texting with her sister while we were at Tony’s, but I had no idea whether she had any family or close friends nearby.

I almost chuckled as I recalled how smug I had been when I sent that final text message. I opened my phone to look at it again.

“That’s curious: READ.” Someone must have accessed her phone. The hunt is on.

A new dilemma faced me: Do I go to work Monday morning? If I don’t, it looks pretty suspicious, but I was in no condition to face anyone. I was a nervous mess!

“You’ve got to pull it together, Frank,” I chastised myself. “This is no time to fall apart!” My life depended on me putting on a good performance.

I channeled my nervous energy into shaving and showering. I needed to clean myself up.

I managed to get a couple of hours of sleep in, but when I got up Monday morning, I felt like I’d been run over by a dump truck. My stomach was in knots, and I felt like I might even be running a fever.

When I pulled up to the office, I was relieved that there were no cop cars waiting. I had prepared myself for them. I tried to act as natural as I could, all the while stifling an anxiety attack.

“Deep breaths, Frank,” I whispered to myself. “Just stay cool.”

My hands were trembling as I grabbed a cup of coffee from the lobby vendor.

“Are you okay?” the barista inquired.

“Oh sure, just caffeine-deprived. I hate Mondays!” I tried my best to force a chuckle, my voice audibly shaking.

Perhaps I should just get to my desk and keep my mouth shut, I thought. With that, I quickly made my way to my desk.

I tried to avoid eye contact. The less interaction, the better, I decided.

I was holding it together pretty well until I heard someone mention Linda’s name. My heart raced, I felt my face go flush, and my stomach did somersaults.

“Deep breaths,” I reminded myself. I was trying my best to keep my brewing panic attack at bay when suddenly I heard that familiar laugh. “Linda?”

“How the . . .?” Confusion engulfed me as my thoughts trailed off.

I peeked over the top of my partition wall. My ears had not deceived me. I quickly ducked away again.

I wondered aloud: “How is this possible?”

My heart pounded like a drum. I felt lightheaded, and the room began to spin. I heard inaudible chatter. It felt like an eternity passed.

Was she toying with me? How long would this charade go on? I felt like I was suffocating. I loosened my tie and quietly slipped out to the break room, wondering if I should just keep going and head home. Before I could make my exit, however, Linda sauntered in.

“Hello, Frank,” she smiled.

That conniving witch, I thought. My voice trembled in response. “Hey, Linda.” My heart caught in my throat. I fixed my eyes on the floor. Perhaps she doesn’t remember, I hoped.

No such luck.

“Frank, I know what you did,” Linda whispered in my ear as she brushed past me. “No deed shall go unpunished!” She tapped her fingers menacingly across my shoulder blades.

“I never meant to . . .” I paused. “I thought you were dead. I panicked!”

I struggled to make eye contact and feign sincerity.

Linda’s eyes penetrated my soul. She laughed. That once-enchanting laugh was now an evil cackle.

“Oh, Frank, don’t you get it?” she asked, casting a sinister grin. “You can’t kill what ain’t livin’ darlin’.”

About the Creator

𝐑𝐌 𝐒𝐭𝐨𝐜𝐤𝐭𝐨𝐧

˜”*°•.˜”*°• Time is our most valuable asset. Thank you for spending some of your time with me! •°*”˜.•°*”˜

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Reader insights

Outstanding

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Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

  1. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (14)

  • Lamar Wiggins6 months ago

    Wow! Felt like I just ran a few laps around the block. This story had me on the edge of my seat. I just saw you published a story just to see that it had a part 1. I guess I'm off to see what happens lol.

  • Novel Allen9 months ago

    I was hoping you had killed a deer, then it was Linda, and i knew she wasn't dead. OMG Linda is undead. Sorry Frank. You are def PHLURKED! It was nice knowing ya.

  • Cathy holmes9 months ago

    This is great. Congrats on the TS.

  • Oh I'm so happy this got a Top Story! Congratulations Rob!

  • JBaz9 months ago

    Yep this is a goody. Love the build, I was feeling like he must have felt on Monday morning. Great work

  • Carol Townend9 months ago

    Well done on your top story, and this is really chilling. I love reading horror like this, and I hope you'll write more for me to read.

  • Real Poetic9 months ago

    Back to say Congratulations! 🎉

  • Test9 months ago

    Congratulations on achieving top story status! 🥰

  • Alex H Mittelman 9 months ago

    Wow! Kept me on edge the entire read’! Great work!

  • O. M. G! That last line by Linda had a shiver run down my spine! God I cannot imagine how much she must have been laughing to herself after she got back home! Like she would have known that Frank must have been freaking out, lol! I loved your story!

  • Real Poetic9 months ago

    Your writing is always so compelling and well constructed. Great story for the spooky season. 🩵

  • Mother Combs9 months ago

  • Jay Kantor9 months ago

    Rob - Such an incredible storyteller among many that are just snipers - Just a pleasure to sit back with your thought out presentations; as you've said we both have our 'Styles' But, guess what: We both published 'Worst Dates Ever' in the same week: How cool a coincidence is that - with entirely different Slant-Schticks - see my 'Heartsy'. *You take a lot of pride in this and it shows. j-bud

𝐑𝐌 𝐒𝐭𝐨𝐜𝐤𝐭𝐨𝐧Written by 𝐑𝐌 𝐒𝐭𝐨𝐜𝐤𝐭𝐨𝐧

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