He wiped the sweat off his forehead.
The back of his shirt was damp and clinging to his skin.
He paused what he was doing to take a long drag from his cigarette.
God he was getting old.
He glanced at his work, satisfied that he would make it home for before Cherie woke up.
The dirt hole was large, at least 7 feet deep and 3 feet wide. It had taken him a few hours to get to this location and to dig it up. It was going to be the home of his latest capture.
The man stared back at the pleading eyes of the gagged individual in the grave. The guy was sweatier than he was - desperately shaking his head and struggling against the knots on his hands.
The man scratched at his head, “It’s not going to end well for you.”
He started adding dirt to the hole he spent the better half of his evening on.
“Look- it’s not that I don’t like you,” he leaned on his shovel, “actually - I despise you. But that’s beside the point.”
He scooped another heaping pile of dirt onto the squirming body.
Were they out of eggs? He'd love to make Cherie his famous French toast.
“It’s just - I mean, I have a family now. I’m going to be a father.”
He couldn’t help his excitement at the last fact.
“And I’m trying to be a better man, a good role model,” he explained.
"And that includes working to make the world a better place- a safer place. You understand right? Maybe you don’t. You wouldn’t be in this situation if you did.”
The moon shone brightly against the situation, the trees silent as if listening for any confessions.
The only sound was the struggling to sit up in a small space as the restricted man inched his body to lean against the wall.
He managed to squirm the gag on his mouth down - words pouring out desperately.
“Please! I swear! It was an accident, I didn’t mean to -“ he choked on the dirt that fell in his mouth.
The man sighed.
“Yes, yes - I know - it’s always an accident. You didn't know, you didn't see, yada, yada.”
He was hungry and sweaty, and his back was killing him. He added two shovelfuls of dirt. He had a quick understanding of what Cherie must be feeling.
"Do you want money?" the bound man cried, "I- I can get you money! Thousands, I have it -"
The ramblings and pleas droned on.
The man raised an eyebrow to show his amusement at the offer, that all this could be fixed with wealth. Is this what the world has come to? Would he ever get to rest? It might've worked on some people he knew, but he had resolve.
"Can money bring her back?"
The man in the grave silenced, eyes filling with tears.
He drew his cigarette again, minding the smoke that swirled from his lips.
"You made the choice - these are your consequences," he said simply.
Realization turned the hysteria into anger.
"You're a murderer! You won't get away with this!"
He rolled his eyes at that. He was feeling contemptuous.
"Are you not also a murderer? Were you not also going to get away with it?"
He watched as the man’s eyes only widened in reply. Then he began to grunt and thrash as the dirt began to fill up to his belly.
"You can't do this to me!" His voice cut through the wind. But there was no one around to hear his shouts. The forest had proved to be a friend of darkness.
The man's eyes hardened as he held the gaze of the teary captive. The mix of dirt and sweat made him look like wretched -as if he had just crawled through the earth. The smell of sweat and fear filled the space between them.
"Do you understand what she must have felt? Would her begging have stopped you from doing what you did? You and I both know the answer to that. Which is why we are doing this. Do not make me repeat myself. You disgust me and you are lucky Cherie has told me to be quick about this."
He added dirt so it landed on top of the man.
"There are worse ways to go."
He was ahead of schedule. He was pleased with his progress. His other endeavors had taken longer.
The next few moments were occupied with the sound of shuffling dirt and labored breathing.
As if accepting the situation, the man had been quiet. Save for the fact he was weeping into the dirt that had filled up to his neck and trying to swallow his defeated hiccups.
“Don’t bother panicking,” the man reassured.
He stepped over and squatted down to get a better view of the head staring back. He gave a condescending pat to the top of it.
"It's not the asphyxiation that will kill you, it's what circulating in your body right now. You'll be dead before you realize you can't breathe. I told you, I have to get home soon."
He stood up and stared back at the puffy, red eyes of the monster.
He carried on.
At last, he had neared the end of his task. There were no more pleas or begging. No more threats or outbursts. The world would be a better place, even if it was just one less horrible brute roaming the streets. He felt only satisfaction as he flashed a cruel smile before finalizing the grave.
He looked at his work- the quiet was comforting.
The trees were illuminated by the moonlight and the leaves shudder as if releasing their anticipation.
The cellphone in his pocket buzzed. A shrill voice rang through the other line as he picked up.
“Captain - I know you’re off duty - it's...bad. They need you down here.”
The man thought about how he'd have to change his schedule. He'd have to get breakfast for him and Cherie on his way back. He nodded to himself before replying.
“I'm on my way.”