DH Hanni has been published in online magazines such Hidden Animals, the Copperfield Review, and the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable. Her work has also appeared in print in LocoThology 2013: Tales of Fantasy and Science Fiction anthology and in the upcoming First Contact Café anthology. Currently she resides in South Carolina. You can find DH Hanni at dhhanni.net or on Facebook.
“You are evil.” My sneakered feet crunched rhythmically against the icy crust. I panted like a dog on a hot summer day as I jogged alongside my trainer, Barry. Clad in snug-fitting red and black racing shorts and jersey, he pedaled away on his fancy bike.
Barry laughed, his breath making clouds in the air. “I am not, Charlene. Just trying to keep you motivated. Your next task is to catch up to me!” He sprinted off, the rear tire kicking up a powdery mist.
“Jerk.” I refused to speed up, unsure my scorching thighs and cracking knees would allow me under the layers of clothing I wore. So I maintained my slow, even pace as I watched his figure disappear around the bend in the trail.
Gray clouds approached from my right, looming like Barry does over the weight bar at the gym. The air grew heavy and I sensed snow. I squinted to find Barry but couldn’t locate him. My knees rattled in protest and my thighs tightened as I struggled to pick up the pace.
Dense snowflakes dropped from the sky. The visibility quickly got worse and still I hadn’t spotted him. A cold fire burned within my chest as I stopped. Shielding my eyes from the blinding snow, I scanned the tumbleweed decorated horizon. Nothing.
“Barry!” Over and over I called his name. The snow changed direction and now fell diagonally. I walked a few feet continuing to call out his name.
“Charlene!” His voice was faint.
“Barry!” I rushed to where I thought his voice came from. The cries of “Charlene” grew louder and louder until I finally saw red and black.
“What happened?” He lay on the ground, the bike's front tire bent and the chain had snapped off the gears. Thankfully he'd only suffered a scraped knee and a bloody elbow.
“I tried to turn around and find you when the bike must have hit a rock or something. Next thing I knew, I was on the ground.”
I helped him up and noticed his lips were turning purple. “We need to find shelter and now.”
“I think I saw a farmhouse somewhere north of here.”
“Okay. Can you walk?” Barry nodded. “Good, then follow me.” I held out my hand for him and walked what I hoped was north.
We hiked half a mile before spotting something that looked like shelter. The rickety wooden structure swayed and groaned in the howling wind. Roof tiles flew off and I ducked my head as one narrowly missed us.
We got to the door. Barry limp in my arms and fading fast, his lips a solid shade of navy, with what strength he had left helped me push the door open. Once inside, I took off my outer jacket and wrapped it around him as he sunk to the floor. His teeth chattered and the tip of his nose was red.
He shut his eyes. I swathed my scarf around him and sat down next to him. I hugged him tightly as I watched the farmhouse undulate with every robust gust of wind. Individual planks of wood started to snap away and soon a hole opened up in the roof.
“It’ll be okay,” I said to Barry. “The storm will pass over.” He continued to shiver violently.
I closed my eyes, said a prayer to God, as the cracks of brittle wood rang in my ears. Glacial tears ran down my face as the earth quaked beneath us. The wind was unsympathetic and relentless pounding into the farmhouse like the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Wood shattered and I held Barry tight as the farmhouse crushed us into a snowy grave.