I opened my eyes to utter darkness.  My senses heightened, I could feel the enclosure very close around me.  As I wriggled my fingers there was satin beneath where I lay.  Don’t panic. I hate enclosed spaces, not exactly claustrophobic, but pretty darn close.  I concentrated on my breathing, and tried to think slow and steady.  I was not bound in anyway, so I moved my hands out to find side walls going up covered in satin as well.  My mind raced to try and figure out what had happened and where I was at.  But everything was blank and the darkness started to close in on me.  With my eyes shut tight I tried to find my focus, the center of my being as I had learned in meditation.  Find your flame.  Slowly I let my hands move up the walls that surrounded me and I found a cover or lid not far above my body.  My brain reeled as the realization of where I was sunk in.  I am trapped in a coffin!!!!! 

The image of tons of dirt over top of the lid trapping me six feet below overwhelmed me.  No one would hear me scream, but I could not help it as the horror of my situation overwhelmed me.  My arms came up and I beat at the lid, as I screamed raggedly until I was left panting to catch my breath.  Tears streamed from my eyes and rolled down my face, snot built up in my nose blocking it.  How long would I last?  How much air did I have? 

I heard a noise outside of the casket and the lid was wrenched open and night air filled the cramped space.  I tried to sit up sputtering and coughing only to find myself pushed back down and secured with a metal brace around my neck.  The sky was cloudy and no moon shone through to provide me light.  I strained my eyes to try and see who this assailant was when a lantern was lit illuminating the area.  I squinted against the intrusion as his face loomed above me.  “Hello Beth,” your grin made me sick.  I hadn’t seen you in more than a decade.  I felt my entire body grow numb and I felt empty inside. 

“I have been watching you for a very long time,” you started to tell me, “I know you no longer fear me giving you pain.”  I shrugged in response to you and gave my best ‘I don’t care’ face, though inside my heart was still pumping.  “You are no longer a little girl for me to torture Beth.”   You continued on as if you were reciting this speech that you memorized over the years.  “I have found things out about you, things no one knows.  I know your innermost thoughts and fears.”  

I felt the ball of snot lodge in my throat.  I had spent years building up my wall to protect me from monsters like you.  No one could breach them, nothing could hurt me again.  I refused to let people in because of you, and for that I have always been alone.  It wasn’t sad, it just was, and I had accepted that when I was small.  But now, I felt that inner child in me cowering inside of me with your presence in my life again. 

You beckoned someone out of my line of view to come forward.  “You never were one for the preamble were you?”  You asked me as I saw your partner come forward with a large box in his hands.  You turned and looked at me with the awful grin that haunted me since I saw you last.  “Do you want to know what I have for you little one?”  You crooned to me.  Pursing my lips together, I raised my eyebrow at you.  Never show him your fear that is how he feeds. 

Turning you reached into the box and pulled out something I couldn’t see.  Bringing your hand down, I saw a large spider cradled in the palm of your hand.  Reaching down you didn’t hesitate to place it on my leg.  I felt all the blood drain from my face, and your laughter filled the night sky.  Looking at your cohort, “Dump them all in.”  

As I opened my mouth to say something you interrupted me, “I wouldn’t scream now, you wouldn’t want them crawling inside of you.”  I felt thousands of them crawling over my body as they fell from the box.  They covered my legs, my hands, my stomach and chest.  The laughter of both of you echoed in my ears as you slammed the lid back down and I was left there.  Paralyzed with fear, panic seizing my mind.  Trapped inside the dark coffin, but no longer alone, now I had thousands of quarter sized spiders in here with me.  I could feel their legs and bodies crowding over each other and my own body.  Please just let me black out!  They swarmed over me like a writhing blanket, crawling up my body and over my face.  Tangling in my hair my heart felt like it was going to explode it was pumping so hard.  I felt them climb over my neck and try to get into my ears; I felt their legs over my eyelids and pressing to my mouth.  Every muscle in my body was taught like a steel drum, I began to tremble… 

No air, can’t breathe, no air, can’t breathe, no air, CAN’T BREATHE!!!!!!!

<Back to Short Stories>

6 thoughts on “Panic

  1. Well at least it’s not 11 pm. Whew, what’s wrong with this picture? I’m in my 60s and surround myself with a room full of men. You’re in your 30s and are in a coffin with spiders. Boy they were right when they said youth is wasted on the young. 🙄 I know I’m banned.

  2. Nice work here, Beth. You dipped into a couple of really common fears — claustrophobia and arachnophobia. Very good example of plumbing people’s fears to elicit reaction and emotion. 🙂

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