's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" A Quick Death "

Submitted by Miranda Johansson

All things considered, a quick death is not that bad, I think to myself as they begin to pour the sand into the coffin.

It hisses down before my eyes in an unbroken column, sunlit gold fading to brown down here in the gloom. I can feel it upon my feet, grains upon grains which become little dunes together. The sand rises up and up, poured from the merciless gaping mouth of their burlap sack.

They have dug a deep grave for me, and built an open-topped coffin in which I can stand upright. Even when I stretch fully, I would need to gain another head in height before I could look over the lip of the hole. When I am fully interred, they will lay a stone over my head to seal me in.

The sand reaches my knees.

A quick death, I think a few moments of discomfort and pain, a mere minute of gritty sand and clogged airways, and then oblivion. That does not sound so bad.

It is eerily silent on the day of my entombment. The priest does not read to commend my soul to the afterlife.

When I look up, I can see the black outlines of people, cast into deep shadow by the noonday sun: the strong men who are pouring the sand, and the stern magistrate, the one who passed the official sentence, even if the mob would not have accepted any other judgment upon me, in their anger and fear.

And my wife, come to watch after all. The sun glares through the mourning veil she has donned. I ache to speak to her, to ask: "We who have been married for so long did you never suspect? If you did not, how different can I truly be from all you who stand atop my grave, rather than in it?"

But I hold my peace. I know that no words can save me now, and I do not wish to exacerbate my wife's pain any further. In her eyes, the husband she once knew is already gone. Only my true nature remains.

The sand has reached my chest now, robbed me of what little mobility my arms were possessed of in this tomb of mine.

She wants nothing to do with me. None of them do.

Abomination, they called me.

I take one last longing look at the light of day, and turn away.

Yes, I think wistfully as the rising sand breaches my lips and goes tumbling into the recesses of my clay lungs, I would have welcomed a quick death.