Welcome Wednesday readers!
It is now the third day of my writing week challenge, where I will post a new piece of fiction every day until Sunday! If you haven’t given me a prompt yet but want to, you can do so in the comments below or visit my Twitter/Facebook and leave a comment there!
This day’s story is 2,550 words. The prompt was “someone finds themselves in a coffin and notices a scorpion at their feet”.
Let me know what you think about it and, of course, show the love by sharing!
Dedicated to Davemeddlehed.
Buried Two Feet Above
It was definitely a bad habit to take afternoon naps in a coffin. In my defense, I built them custom myself for people with eccentric tastes and who wanted to be buried in style, which meant I knew each one would be comfy as hell. Plus, my workshop wasn’t built for creature comforts, I had some wooden benches, tables, a two foot tall base upon which I built the coffins, tons of tools and machinery, wood, and material. Not much there to enable me to chill on my lunch break. So I started taking a little cat nap here and there, then it became a regular thing in the summer. Hey, I was my own boss and I never missed a deadline.
But I certainly regret doing it now.
I pushed against the satin lined lid. It gave just enough that a crack of afternoon light sliced through the darkness, but not enough to let me force my hand into the space or get enough of a view to see what was preventing me from getting out or what had slammed the lid shut on me to begin with. I did thank my luck that I hadn’t propped my foot up on the edge like I sometimes do. The lid would have smashed right on my ankle, though – perhaps – it would have allowed me to get out.
I let the lid sink down again and was swallowed by the dark. I cast my mind back. I thought I could remember a great crash. No earthquakes around here, but something had to have happened. My mind jumped to the latest shipment of oak planks I had gotten for my next custom order. I’d had the delivery guys prop them up against my back wall. If they fell, they could have landed directly on the coffin in which I now was trapped.
I tried to pull my legs up, knowing full well there wasn’t enough space to brace my feet against the lid. I pressed my hands against the lid and shoved it over and over again, hoping to shake the timber off. I kept at it until my shoulders burned, then I let my hands fall across my chest in some messed up parody of a trapped Dracula.
My heart was racing and I tried to control my breathing. I wasn’t afraid of being in a coffin, not one above ground that I had built myself. I remembered a piece of trivia I’d learned when I first got into the industry: how, in Victorian times or some shit, people were buried with bells in case their quack of a doctor said they were dead when they were actually just in a coma. I laughed and was a little spooked at the high-pitched sound of my own hysteria.
I broke it down. I worked independently so there were no coworkers or bosses to notice this little OSHA violation. My studio was also in the empty field behind my house so screaming was pointless. No girlfriend to check in on me either.
Doubt my friends would notice my absence for quite a while. I was more of an introvert than anything. Final nail in this coffin was that my client wouldn’t be coming by to see the finished product until next month.
I sucked in a deep breath and held it. Can’t panic. Panicking would do nothing.
I pushed the lid up again and craned my neck, peeking through the crack. I don’t know what I was expecting to see. The light streaming in the windows was that mellow, warm glow of late afternoon. More than anything, I did not want to be here all night.
Gritting my teeth, I tried to shove my fingers into the space but gave up with a curse when I felt the nail of my index finger catch on an uneven edge and get pushed back. I forced myself to relax against the satin. My finger was throbbing like a son of a bitch now.
I flinched at a small tickle on my ankle and tried to rub both ankles together to rid myself of the sensation. It stopped then resumed. I tried to reach down before remembering where I was and swore again. The tickle was back and moving up my calf.
I pressed the lid up again and tucked my chin to my chest, squirming to try and see down the length of my body.
There, clinging to my leg hairs and its black carapace catching the light like a spark, was a small scorpion. I froze. It paused, its stinger raised a bit above its body. I swear it was staring at me. My arms were shaking in their awkward raised position. It lowered its left pincer to my skin. I repressed a shudder. I didn’t want to give the little bastard any reason to sting me.
I tried to pull up any knowledge I had about scorpions. The bigger ones were the most poisonous? Or maybe it was based on colour? I was shocked out of my own thoughts as the scorpion did something very unnatural.
It stroked my skin.
I felt my eyes bug out of my skull.
Deliberately, the scorpion ran its black pincer back and forth over my skin. I was so distracted that I let the lid slam shut. I heard something shift above me.
I shoved at the lid and looked down. The scorpion hadn’t moved but I’d heard something. I’d heard something that sounded very much like my name. My arms were getting weak from the constant tension of holding the lid. The scorpion and I held our stalemate until I had to relent, letting the lid down gently so as not to scare it.
I tried not to laugh with relief. I was saved. Someone had come in the shop.
“Hello? Hey! I’m in here, can you give me a hand? Hey! Right in the coffin, no kidding!”
ah, joseph. you smell ssso good
I felt the scorpion scuttle up my leg a bit and I pushed the lid up again, my heart thundering in my throat.
It paused just below my knee, underneath the hem of my shorts. It lowered a pincer again, running it over my skin. Was this some kind of scouting behaviour? Checking for danger or some shit? Or maybe this little guy had a parasite that was making it act against its normal habits? Like that ant parasite that turned ants into visual nightmares and forced them to climb to the top of flowers so birds would eat them?
I turned my head to peek out.
“Hey! Who’s there? I’m in this coffin, can you get me out please?”
I couldn’t see anyone. The light had lost its afternoon gold and was now shifting into dimmer evening hues. I looked back at my unwanted guest. If it kept climbing, I could have a chance to smash it with a fist. It seemed to only move if it was dark so I would have to close the lid.
I lowered the lid. My shoulders and wrists were aching. It was a relief to let them rest. I tried to ignore the pain so I could concentrate on the faint sensation on my knee.
such sssweet flesh
The sensation on my leg, it felt more like the soft caress of fingers than the skitter of a bug. Moreso, I would swear I felt the soft heat of someone’s breath breeze across my knee and up my thigh. And the soft weight on the lower half of my legs… like someone was laying across them.
I pushed the lid up again. The light that trickled inside was significantly dimmer, but it was enough so I could see the scorpion hadn’t moved and – of course – there was no one else in the coffin with me. How would there be? I’d only built it with room for one. The scorpion waited so I closed the lid again. I needed to get this over with now before night fell.
i can hear your heart, dear one, i can feel the blood beneath your sssskin
“Is anyone out there?” I called out, resisting the urge to lift the lid.
The scorpion finally made its move. First its prickly legs were distinct, then the sensation changed again and once more felt like a coquettish caress, sliding up my inner thigh so, so slowly.
ah, i am so glad i have you, i’ve been ssso lonely
A soft weight resting on my left hip, the whisper of an exhale not my own. A shiver ran up my body from my toes to the top of my scalp and I shoved the lid up. A weak gray twilight seeped in. The scorpion waited on my hip, just where I thought I’d felt a hand. My skin erupted in goosebumps. I judged the distance. I could try. It would be hard to get a decent momentum considering the lack of space, if I didn’t kill it then it might sting me. Holding the lid up solely with my right hand, I slid my left along the satin on the lid towards the scorpion. In response to my movement, the arachnid brought its wicked stinger high.
I waited, thinking it might relax after a few moments of stillness but it didn’t back down. I could sense a terribly aware intelligence emitting from the scorpion. It stayed tense, stinger raised and ready. I pulled my hand back, dropping it to my chest in a tense fist. The scorpion waited then relaxed, its stinger sinking to a non-defensive pose.
I held the lid up still, clinging to the dimming twilight as desperately as I clung to my own hope that this nightmare would soon end. I tried to imagine possible positive outcomes. I would be enveloped in darkness and the scorpion would, I dunno, die somehow. Or I would manage to crush it – maybe it would crawl into my armpit and then the danger would be gone. My arm was shaking so I let the lid close.
My mind raced through unlikely rescue scenarios. Maybe Agatha would show up a month early to see her coffin and get me out of this mess, maybe I forgot to pay a bill and someone would come looking for cash, anything, anything better than imagining me starving to death in this fucking coffin or being stung and turning into a bloated corpse thanks to my little friend.
In the black void that was the inside of the coffin, I felt the scorpion make its way from my hip upwards to my waist. I shouldn’t have been able to feel its tiny little horrible legs. I shouldn’t have. Instead I felt a hand delicately slip up inside the bottom of my shirt.
oooohh, josssseph. yes. you’re tender, aren’t you. i feel your heart quickening…yesss
“Oh, God,” I was shivering and couldn’t stop it now.
It was a chain reaction. My body was now out of my control and I was terrified if I couldn’t control it, the scorpion would get spooked and sting me. Why couldn’t I remember what kind of scorpions were deadly? I pushed up the lid and barely noticed a difference between the darkness within the coffin and the light from outside. This was not good. Fuck.
i’ve watched you, oh yessss, i’ve been waiting
“Who’s out there?”
My voice came out like a pathetic squeak. The phantom hand crept up, under my shirt, becoming uncomfortably intimate with my belly, then up towards my chest. I shoved the lid up, but it didn’t matter anymore. It was night. Outside the coffin was just as dark as inside. There was nothing I could do at this point.
I felt a breath on my neck as the pressure slid across my chest, my collarbone, around my neck. A weight settled on my legs, my belly, like someone laying on top of me.
“Please. Please, whoever you are, don’t do this,” who was I pleading with?
ah, yesss, right here. i feel it, oh, yesss
Something was caressing my neck. My pulse was pounding and this sensation was tracing it, too intimate, too vulnerable, I was about to lose it. It was the scorpion, climbing up my neck. What was that statistic? People ate eight spiders in their lifetime, in one night? I don’t know. Was it going to end up in my mouth? Maybe that was for the best. I could crush it with my teeth, but what if it crawled over my eye, what if I didn’t close it in time and its prickly little legs pierced my pupil? Oh fuck, oh fuck.
Chilled fingers closed around my throat. Weight shifted on my waist, grinding against me, hinting at something intimate yet carrying a more sinister meaning.
josssseph, oh yessss. The sssound of your pulssse against me…you want me too, you were meant for me
The sensation gripped my neck tighter, not enough to cut off air, but enough to make my heart race. It took everything not to start thrashing. Any move could set the scorpion off. I felt a warm breath against my neck, the tickle of lips on my right ear. I was losing it. This had to be insanity.
“Is anyone out there?” I croaked.
In response, I heard a breathy giggle in my ear.
i am here for you, josssseph. yes. right here. tell me, sssay you want thisss
I couldn’t even make a sound. My throat felt swollen with a captured scream. There was someone else. Someone laying across the length of my body. No, no, no. I was alone. I was in a coffin. There was only room for one. I only built it with room for one.
i want to kissss you, jossseph. yesss, that’s allowed, issn’t it?
I felt the weight shift on my body and a short breath exhaled over my face that smelled dry, like the desert. I parted my lips, this was my moment to scream, my last moment. Lips as smooth and dry as parchment pressed against mine, something slipped between my lips and into my mouth like a desert snake. I felt a slight sting. A momentary blink of pain.
I was clutching at the air above my body – there was no one there, no one there.
My body began to numb, my neck was throbbing, where were my legs? I couldn’t feel them. The void crept through my veins, my fingers were gone, my legs and arms went next. Was this it? Was this it?
clossse your eyesss. breath me in. oh, josssseph
Why not? I closed my eyes. It was darkness either way. I closed them and felt adrift in a numbing nothingness. I felt my heartrate slow when it should have been racing. My breaths dragged in and out…in…and out….in…and…out…
I was breathing through my mouth. I could taste sand. I could taste dry air. I could taste sunshine.
give yoursssself to me, i want you sssso bad, joseph
yes. i will give myself to her
i’ll do it
it’s dark and I feel
and so i gave myself to her
Thanks everyone! Let me know what you think in the comments below. See you tomorrow!
x P.L. McMillan