It couldn’t have been long…or, at least that was Jerimiah’s best guess. The fact that he was still alive was a clear indication of that. Blackness; nothing but dense darkness surrounded him. He tried to maneuver but the space was limited, in fact he was barely able to separate his arms from his body. Lifting his hand he jammed his thumb on the roof which was only inches above him. Several times he banged on the roof as hard as he could; the stiff sound of his strikes unable to resonate through the uncertain surface that lay on top of him. He inspected himself up and down; a suit, a tie and even his Yakama. It all started to sink in, albeit as hard a notion it was to comprehend.
Hyperventilating – the sound of his breathing brushed along the walls of his congested quarter, he tried desperately to remember what he could. Where he was before this? How did this happen? Why couldn’t he remember anything? All these questions and more raced through his mind, but none as terrifying as the most apparent fact; he was buried alive! Jerimiah let out several bellows, screaming in short bursts as he could feel the air beginning to deplete in quality; the smell and taste of his expended breaths beginning to take its place.
He knew he had only a few minutes, or less, accounting for the amount of time he’d been here already. He continued his attempts to desperately claw his way through the roof, but did nothing but bruise his fingers as they now began to bleed. He could feel the dampness of his blood within the padded lining of the roof. Jerimiah ripped and clawed at the padding trying to give himself a sense of progress in his escape. From the corner he managed to separate a piece of fabric with his thumb and fore-finger, tearing it from the seam.
Jerimiah did his best to feel out the edges and, taking a firm grip of the exposed lining pulled with what strength and leverage he could muster. He managed to pull away a large section of fabric of about two square feet. Though he couldn’t see anything the feeling of making headway, as well as the solid surface, was motivating. He patted the slab of wood above him trying to hear any semblance of an echo; a vibration of any kind that would give him a sense of hope. His blows, however hard, fell flat, but Jerimiah pounded until his muscles were numb; crying and laughing in a growing uncontrollable hysteria.
All he could think of was how he could’ve ended up here. Amongst the tears and the sharp breaths he tried his best to imagine how and why someone could’ve made such a mistake. Did they think he was dead? Why? What had happened? What was the last thing he could remember? Nothing; there was nothing he could recall. He never really did anything out of the ordinary; his routine was pretty standard. He only had two friends he could speak of, or at least those he would go out of his way to spend time with. His best friend Dan who he spoke to on and off during the week and would drop by his house every so often…
When did I talk to him last? It was… God, when was it? Thursday… Friday? He thought back, as best he could remember he hadn’t heard from Dan in days, probably due to the obvious circumstance.
What about Trish? He thought. Surely she must realize he’s not around. Jerimiah kept in better contact with her. They had a much longer history and were a pair that could share more intimate details. Whatever the reason for this, he was sure Trish had to know of it in some manner. There were nights upon nights when Jerimiah couldn’t sleep that he would be able to call her and talk for however long until… I never could sleep, he began to recall.
Jerimiah suffered from chronic insomnia, only able to sleep a few hours a night if at all. There were times where he even went on two or three days without a wink. By that third day his delirium and disorientation were in full swing. However, that following night’s sleep was never sounder for him, but the years of such a condition had really taken its toll. There was something… he thought, the drug trials! It was starting to come back.
He had visited the hospital recently for yet another complaint about a string of sleepless nights. With his prescription filled Jerimiah left for home. Once there, he sat at his computer to turn off his brain for a while. A few hours of web browsing often helped aid in his sleeplessness. This night he had received an e-mail about a new drug that was being put into human trials; a long term treatment for insomnia; at this point he was willing to try anything. While typical sleeping pills managed to take the edge off for a while, Jerimiah was in the market for something sustainable, something he could rely on. While the list of side effects were typical; headaches, muscle weakness and stiffness, joint pain and such, it was a fair gamble. Nowhere on that list, however, did it mention being buried alive. Still, he could only wonder how it came to this.
I had taken the meds, and…
The congestion continued to weigh on Jerimiah, almost as if he could feel the pressure of the earth suffocating him. He tried desperately to shorten his breathing to prolong his life as much as he could. Continuously, he would tap the far end of the coffin with his toe to give himself a readable dimension of his spacing; there wasn’t much to go on, nothing had changed, but the continuous inspection gave him something to focus on. When he had regained some strength in his arms he continued to feel around the torn area and ripped away more of the fabric.
As the dementia began to set in, his thoughts became more panic-stricken and unnerved. He continued to laugh hysterically; gripping his hair and squeezing it tightly, pulling his scalp up and feeling the hair rip from his head. He began to flail and convulse striking all areas of the coffin with disturbed and erratic movements. He began to realize and understand his fate now. In a few moments he would pass out, and die soon after. In an ironic sense his insomnia would be cured, though a different method might have been preferred. Still, how did this happen, he continued to wonder. His last moments would be spent trying to figure out what had happened. Answers would provide some comfort, at least.
He could only recall one treatment he participated in. It had to be recent, as recent as only a few days ago.
I remember, he thought, being in the room. He recalled several other patients sitting around him in a lab while two doctors presented their latest treatment for sleep deprivation: “Saltovil”. The tests were purported to show promise and were ready to be taken to the next level in human trials. The risks were clear and the money was intriguing. The profits for being a guinea pig weren’t a get-rich-quick scheme by any means but it was a way to pull in some fast cash when needed, as Jerimiah did. With his job slashing hours, he had lost a significant amount of income and the stress only added to his insomnia; not able to think clearly, his struggles turned to desperation. A simple dose of two pills one hour before intending to sleep were all the instruction they were given. They would return after thirty days of treatment to report their results. As it turns out, he might not make that meeting.
Thirty days! Had it been that long?
It couldn’t have been; he’d most certainly be dead by now. What then? What was the last thing he could remember? From his first meeting in the lab he went home and went about his routine until it was time to sleep. He settled down and… Ugh, the images became so fuzzy. Nothing was clear. Did he even take the medication? Did he take the wrong ones? Did they give him the wrong ones?! Curiosity turned to anger when the possibility occurred to him that someone else’s mistake could’ve put him here.
He broke into tears hysteria with before starting to laugh again. The shear reality of what had happened was absolutely absurd. Wasn’t he examined thoroughly enough before his burial? Well, as far as Jewish tradition goes the dead are to be buried within a day or two of death. Still, where was he beforehand? Jerimiah began to cough a bit as the air became increasingly toxic. He knew he would officially be dead soon.
He continued to scream in a panicked state! Hadn’t the company done a thorough enough check with its subjects? There must’ve been more that had suffered the same disturbing fate as him. Were they buried, too? He thought. They had to be! His brain quickly ran from rational to senselessness. One moment he would be in tears, then a sudden lash out at the coffin - in a sense at the world - then to fits of laughter. As the air grew thicker he began to babble to himself:
“Someone had to have seen me before this. No one noticed me breathing? How?!”
His anger grew “Accept the fact that Jeremy’s dead. No one cares! Just bury the fucker! Right!?!” He continued to cough.
“This is it!” he yelled.
The air tasted bad, very polluted. Jerimiah felt the urge to throw up. He held it back as long as he could but the sensation was too much, as he turned his head as far to the right as his neck would allow and retched, immediately the smell only made matters worse. He continued to cough and spit up whatever was left inside him. The vomit sat in a puddle next to his ear and he could feel it settling around his head until the cushions absorbed the liquid. It started out a dreadful warm, than cooled to decaying room (earthly) temperature. The smell hung heavy still, adding to the toxic concoction that was slowly choking him.
With no watch or phone, Jerimiah had no ability to tell how much time had elapsed since he came to. He felt, however, that it had been several minutes, ten, maybe twenty. How was he still alive, or conscience for that matter? Surly, the conditions and length of time succumbing there to was enough to do him in. Why hadn’t he expired? He drifted in and out of senility, losing bits and pieces of time but yet never dying. It was here he lost all track of how long it had been. An hour, two… a day! My God, how could he have survived this long? Jerimiah began to wrap on the roof of the coffin with what strength he had left. The efforts in vain, he knew, also aware of the effect such a labor would have on his psyche. Dashing hope with every knock, the results became that much clearer; no one was coming. No one could hear him.
He was trapped. Buried alive! WHY? He desperately wondered. Why won’t I die?! If the cause of him being here was the drug treatment, it had to be the reason for this as well! It can’t be true… The only salvation was the comfort in knowing he would die. But if he hadn’t by now, would he ever meet his death? The thought of still being alive after all this time not only opened his eyes to something extraordinary, something that no one would ever know about, Jerimiah knew it was a grim torture that he would be buried alive, forever!
BIO - I'm 31 and I've been a fan of all things horror since I was 3, at least according to my aunt who had me watching Nightmare on Elm Street then. My interest in writing began in my early teens and I continue to hone my craft for both books and film. My dream is to have a script I've written filmed, and/or have a book published.