The splintering bark showered him as the shot exploded into the tree a mere foot from his head.
“You can’t hide. I know every corner of this forest, and it will be your burying-ground.”
Cresting the hill, he was drawn faster and further from the other. The downward pull gave him enough time to look over his shoulder and see the brim of the others hat as it came into view. “You must let this go! Accept the truth and understand its implication.”
“The truth…I am your truth. I am your death to come.”
With that, the second bullet sprang loose, and a branch to his left crumpled to the ground. Hoping to catch his trailer off guard, he spun around a downed Oak and quickly pulled his trigger. The puff of smoke rose into the air as his chaser was spun around and thrown to the ground. A creeping silence fueled his head as he quickly reloaded while keeping an eye on the other who was now upon one knee reloading as well. “Forgive me for what I have done…forgive and forget.” He was half preaching and half confessing to the one struggling to stand again.
“Your words fall short of anything that could be considered a means to a living man. You must pay for what you have done, and nothing less than death will be your regret. You think your one bullet will do me in?”
With those words still rolling about the trees, they both grabbed aim, and they both fired. The sound was deafening, and then the emptiness of silence crept back once again — the exchanges of words traded for gasping breaths on one end and silent prayers on the other.
The conflict was settled. The victor felt no joy. The remorse carried far beyond the dying man who lay before him. Sadness lay on every footstep from now until his last days. As he walked towards the dying man, he came close to not an enemy, but a once good friend who found out his truth and was unable to keep his motives under control.
“Tell her I loved her dearly. Tell her I did what I thought was right for both of us”, the dying man said choking in a few breaths.
The secret was born.
Unbeknownst to the restless victor, there were eyes watching as the day’s events unfolded. The secret lived beyond the two. The truth had taken on a life of its own. Little did those peering eyes know that they would become caught up in a lifelong lie. A lie that would take many lives, destroy all who came within its grasp, and send a few to the depths of hell itself.