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The Spot

There's times a romance could use rekindling. In the Gutter, that fire may well become a pyre.

The Spot by Patrick Winters

"Why not here?" Helen asked (and with a fair measure of irritation) as they stepped into a small clearing. She repositioned the heart-shaped box of chocolates and the white roses bundled in her arms, the ones Stephen had surprised her with in the truck.
"No, but we're almost there . . ." he said, swinging their picnic basket ahead to emphasize the point. He led her further into the woods, the ones he knew so well and hunted in often. He'd found the perfect spot just for this day earlier in the week, and he couldn't wait for Helen to see it.
His wife fell behind as she struggled to keep up with her sure-footed husband. Stephen thought he could hear her mumbling complaints under her breath. It was a sound he'd grown accustomed to as of late.
He knew that this day could settle things between them, if it went off as he'd hoped. Their marriage had gotten a little rocky in the last few months, and on some days—hell, most days—it had driven the both of them to their limits. They'd never had the most idyllic of partnerships, but it was steady and manageable. It wasn't until Stephen's extended work hours started that things turned hostile, and things just snowballed from there. The arguments and the berating came in rapid-fire; Stephen tried avoiding them, but Helen wasn't ever too keen on letting her dissatisfactions go unheard. His occasional hunting trips had become more commonplace after that. They were his way of trying to just escape and ignore the troubles; of course, that'd only angered Helen more, and her criticisms and complaints went up another notch.
He eventually realized that he couldn't ignore the matter any longer; it needed to be resolved—somehow, someway. As Valentine's Day came closer to rolling around, his idea of a "romantic rendezvous" began to take form. He made his plans, worked things out—and, of course, found that perfect spot.
He picked up the pace a tad, just thinking about it.
They kept on with their trek for another minute more. And then, there it was, right before them. The spot.
"Here it is!" Stephen said with pride and presentation. Still mumbling some, Helen stepped up next to him to see for herself.
"Wha--?" she started in confusion; but Stephen was already pushing her down into the great big hole in the earth, gaping wide before them.
She yelled, the shrill cry falling flat the moment she landed below. Her box of chocolates flew across the dirt floor in a hail, and her roses crinkled and snapped as she face-planted into them. If only he'd bought ones with thorns . . .
Before she had time to get up, the slumbering brown bear that was trapped with her down there woke up. And it certainly wasn't happy.
Weighing four hundred pounds, at the least, and having become quite ravenous with hunger after its unknown time spent sequestered in the hole, the bear wasted no time in unleashing a frenzied roar toward Helen. Before she could scream again, the bear rushed her and fell upon her with its formidable paws and yearning teeth.
Feeling pleased that he'd given his wife roses, chocolates, and now a great big teddy bear, Stephen sat down. He opened the picnic basket and ate his lunch, watching as the bear did the same. 
Patrick Winters is a recent graduate of Illinois College in Jacksonville, IL, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. As a student, he was a two-time co-editor in chief of the college's literary and art magazine, Forte, and is a member of the international English honors society, Sigma Tau Delta. His works have previously been published through NOOK Books, Sanitarium Magazine, Trysts of Fate, and The Nightmare Collective: An Anthology of Short Horror Stories.