This story is by Kuchynka and was part of our 2023 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
It was a muddy spring.
Every spring had been muddy.
Both Tawn and Yur lived over sixty of them before they died and they were back, in the early hours of a dark muddy spring morning.
Tawn, the fatter old man, who died at sixty three from an odd bout of spring fever, caught himself after Yur landed his first good punch right up around his cheek. It hadn’t hurt much, with being dead and all, but knocked his balance.
“Just try to not to stop.” Said Tawn, using the momentumof his lost balance to swing his arm back and bring his fist right into Yur’s forehead. He’d been aiming for his mouth.
The shorter, skinnier, gaunt old man, who had died at sixty two, a year after he hit his head and never bothered to get it checked, swayed back a few steps. “I don’t want to try.” Said Yur. “I want to get it over with.”
“You always were a lazy bum Yur! That’s why you’re dead!”
“All them not lazy folks died too! Everyone dies here!”
Yur and Tawn each swung a fist, neither bothering to dodge, they’d never been good at dodging, felt like a weak thing to do, to dodge, but their spirits weren’t as in it and there was no force in their wide swings and Yur was really only smooshing up Tawn’s cheek and Tawn was really only pushing into Yur’smouth and getting drool on his fist.
“We can resist these damn Necromancers.” Said Tawnmoving his jaw against the knuckles still pressing into his face.
“Lhmphing!” Said Yur, still drooling on the fist lodged in his mouth. Tawn dropped his fist and Yur tried again. “Looney bastard.” Repeated Yur. “I don’t want to beat them. I want to go back to my natural state. Which is being dead.”
“I like Wallace.” Said Tawn.
“No you didn’t. You hated Wallace.” Said Yur.
“It was a neighborly hate.”
“Oi!” Screamed Yur. “We been over that Tawn. Do you need another knock upside the head?”
“You’ve been knocking me upside the head since we crawled out our graves Yur! And it’s because you don’t want to do this either! Every time we fight, we stop walking to Wallace.”
“Bull! Hitting ya is just worth the delay!”
“Damn it Yur! Be serious for a moment. We’ve got to stop this. This blasphemy. This true evil that’s risen us up from our graves. We can’t be indulging it.”
He looked Yur right in the eye. The light was coming up on them quick. Tawn could see Yur’s blue blood shot eyes popping out of his gaunt stretched lids, and Yur could see Tawn’s tawny eyes buried in his wrinkled puffy lids.
“Don’t be looking at me like that,” Said Yur, “it’s too late ain’t it? They got our souls back in this world and we’re here until we do what we’re meant to do.”
Tawn’s eyes dropped away, as far as Yur could see there was still so much soul in them, like he really was the same old Tawn he’d always been. It hurt Yur to see those stubbornlyhopeful eyes look so defeated, and Yur stumbled over his thoughts looking for words of comfort. But Yur had never been good at comfort. “And what can we do anyhow? It’s not our fault. I never bothered with any protection. Because why bother? Them necromancers never bother with the likes of us. Don’t they usually raise the dead of useful people?”
“Perhaps someone practicing.” Said Tawn, moving forward and wrenching his heavy legs out of the mud.
“Practicing? They do that do they?” Asked Yur bounding after him, having a much easier time springing through the mud with his stick legs.
“I’m sure they must. Sure raising the dead must be like whittling the wood, got to choose some old rotten pieces you don’t care about to practice on. I bet we is just the practice.” Said Tawn and they both noticed they’d started walking again. As they had all morning, pausing to fight and then continuing on, like two dumb moths moving towards the flame. Continuing forward toward that goal that had been placed in their heads.
They’d spent the dark of the late night all the way into thedark of the morning fighting, resisting contemplating. But as the dawn began to break pink, they moved forward not entirely sure if it were against their will. If they didn’t simply grow bored and long to get it over with so they could again fade from the world.
“You want to talk about it some more?” Asked Yur as the orange of the sunrise broke through and colored Wallace’s little shack of a house.
Tawn shook his head and stepped inside. Yur dropped his own head to his chest and followed him in.
The instructions in their head were very clear. To go toWallace and kill him efficiently. Whatever it took really. Sneak right up on him, kill him in his sleep, just to kill him right quick and make sure he was real dead.
Yur didn’t think much on resisting it no more, but apparently Tawn had.
“Wallace!!!” He bellowed through the house. “Where you at?! Come on out. Know you’re here.”
Both their heads whipped towards the fellow that stepped out to the call, like some homing beacon in their brain, it saw their target and knew it, and there were crystal clear instructionsto immediately leap upon the man and beat him to death.
And yet, they were both too shocked upon what they saw.
“Wallace!!” Screamed Yur at the very tall, lanky, fully grown man taking the place of the boy he’d known. It was an older man too. Not as old as he and Tawn, but a full grown man. Well into his adulthood, even looked a little worn around the eyes, like he was forming wrinkles. “We been dead that long!” He yelled. “And you lived this long?!”
Wallace squinted at their faces. “You both look familiar.” He shrank back and the focus in his eyes dropped away. “Can’t place either of yous.” He looked away dumbfounded into his own mind for a moment as though having an argument with himself. “No that’s right!” He said to himself and then pointed a finger right at Yur’s face. “Even if I know you really well and I’m being real rude not to know I know you, you still shouldn’t be barging into people’s homes!” He dropped his finger and his anger, straightening out his shirt. “It’s not polite.” Then he fell back onto one leg, perching on it like a flamingo. “But how is it I know you fellas and what I can do for ya?”
“Wallace!!!” Bellowed Tawn leaping for him with his arms out stretched for his throat. Wallace’s surprise managed to trip him adequately enough for him to fall right out of Tawn’s grasp and he scampered away with a little shriek.
“Did you see that!?” Screamed Tawn rounding on Yur.
“I did see that!! That is Wallace! He still scampers away the same as he did! Like a little, like a little rat!”
“Like a cockroach! A damn little cockahroach scurrying about! Let’s get ‘im!”
And off they went after Wallace, entirely of their own will, with a stronger desire to beat him than kill him.
Their fury was short lived. Wallace was quick but not real bright. Rather than running out the house he buried himself into the nearest closet and Tawn and Yur already had a supernatural sense for where he was at, but even without that, they’d watched him close the closet door.
“Lad might deserve to die.” Said Tawn.
They ripped him right out by his feet, he didn’t even kick much, he only put his hands up over his head to shield the blows.
But both Tawn and Yur stopped. They both looked down for a long enough moment that Wallace grew confused and pulled his arms away from his face to look up at them in question.
Tawn looked back at him and Yur looked from Tawn to Wallace waiting for Tawn to make the decision.
Yet Tawn was frozen.
There, flashed before him, was young Wallace. That dumb little lad when he’d been real short. When he was starting to get real freckly and his hair was still blonde. When his little voice would ring out. “Sorry Mr. Tawn sir!” As he scampered off with one of Tawn’s grooving irons.
Wallace’s arms dropped farther from his face as he started to look hopeful that he wouldn’t be beaten.
Tawn dropped his face into his hands and cried into them, succumbing to the memories of the life he’d had before.
But he didn’t want be a coward now, he pulled his old face right out of his hands and looked Wallace full in the eyes. “I’m sorry lad.”
And then he struck. Yur followed suit.