's 2015 Horror Write-off:

" A Premature Burial "

Submitted by Alex L

The last thing you remember is lying in your bed, feeling sick as a dog. You must have passed out at some point, because you certainly don't remember it being so dark. You can't even see your own hand as you hold it only inches from your face. Slowly, you extend your hand outward, hoping to feel around for a light, and to your surprise, you meet surprisingly soft resistance almost immediately. At first, you're not sure what the padded, fabric-covered surface you're pushing against is. You reach to the sides instead, finding similar walls nearly touching your shoulders. Your breathing speeds up as you begin to realize what has happened to you, and the stale air in your tiny casket already seems to be running out.

You're not sure how long you've been down here, but you try to tell yourself that it couldn't possibly be that long. After all, even after your little episode, you still haven't run out of air. Surely, there must be someone outside who can hear you and get help. You call out, as loud as you can, though your voice sounds weak and scratchy from disuse. Would anyone be able to hear you through six feet of earth, anyway?

You reach out to make sure the walls are still where they were the last time you checked. You have never had any issues with claustrophobia before now, but the tiny, dark space is starting to get to you. How long have you been down here, now? It must be hours, but it feels like days. You know that can't be right- even if you hadn't been breathing at all this whole time, there wouldn't be enough air to last you half that long. But no matter how many times you tell yourself that, every second you spend in this hole feels like a year. You have to get your mind off the small space and the stale air, and the walls that you swear are closing in on you somehow, so you try to think of your home, instead. Of your family. Your stomach growls, and you wonder if it will be worse to suffocate or starve down here. 

You must have been down here for days, now. Logic be damned, there's no more denying it, and you can't take the darkness and the silence and the tiny, tiny space any longer.  You claw desperately at the satin-lined lid of the casket, tearing through fabric, wood, fingernails, and flesh alike in your desperate bid for freedom. Eventually, you have to stop. You're exhausted, and starving, and now your hands hurt to top it all off. Bits of shredded fabric, flecks of wood, and what you halfheartedly hope aren't parts of your hand now litter your tiny resting place. You don't bother to try to remove them.

You can no longer even guess as to how long you've been lying there on your back, nearly motionless, taking slow, shallow breaths and trying your best to savor every one of them when you're not thinking about how scared and hungry you are. You've been alone in the dark for so long that you've started to hear things- your family calling for you, someone walking by, a dog barking. Every time you've gotten your hopes up to spite yourself, but every time, the sound fades away to be replaced with nothing but the sound of your own agitated breathing. The air is old and stale, and you no longer know or care how much of it is left. 

You've been down here for weeks, now, you're sure of it, and you're hearing things again. This time, you can't even name the sound- like something crunching, scraping. It started out sounding quiet and distant, but it's only getting louder now. You can hear something else, now, too. It's muffled, and you can't quite make it out, but it sounds like... voices? You gasp, taking in a sharp breath of old, worthless air, as you finally realize what's going on. The shovel strikes the lid of your casket, and you wait in silence for them to finish excavating. You want desperately to call out to them, but you don't know how long you've been down here, and the thought of scaring them off when you're so close to freedom terrifies you. You could almost cry as you hear one of the men say something to his companion, followed by the sound of scraping as they shuffle the last bit of dirt off of the casket lid. 

Finally, the lid is pried open. It takes everything you have left not to let out a scream of excitement then and there. Soil showers down onto your face, and you blink up at the sky, so grateful to see moonlight again after all this time. You slowly sit up, for the first time in you don't know how long, and stretch. Some part of you is still dimly aware of your ruined hands, but that doesn't matter right now.  You're not going to starve down here in this hole! You're going to be okay!   The men don't seem to notice you moving- they're preoccupied looking at the shredded casket lid, mumbling to each other about what it means.  You're still a little unsteady after your ordeal, but you get your feet under you just the same.  The would-be grave robber finally notices you as you shakily stand. He shouts something to his friend, but it's too late for that now. He goes for his knife, and you go for the jugular.