EIGHT – THE RESTLESS DEAD
Darkness surrounded Tammy Kaber, and she wondered for a moment where she was. She tried to look around, but her neck felt strange and stiff, as if someone had tried to choke her.
She reached up to rub it, but her hands bumped into something soft and firm on the way. It felt like a satin sheet above her head, but it was unyielding like a supple wall—she couldn’t move it. Tammy reached to either side and found the same hard satin close by.
With mounting horror, she realized where she was—in a coffin: her coffin.
She’d bungled her own suicide! And they’d botched her burial as well. They hadn’t discovered she was still alive, and they’d buried her. They’d buried her alive!
Tammy brought her hands up to her mouth and screamed. In the confined space, the sound almost deafened her, and her fingernails scratched her face. Her voice sounded strange—high-pitched and almost inhuman—but the pain from the scratches brought her back to terrible reality.
She screamed again and reached up, pressing her palms to the lid of the casket and pushing with all her might. Perhaps she wasn’t in the ground yet. Maybe she was only waiting at the funeral home for burial. Maybe it wasn’t too late.
But it was too late—far too late. The coffin lid didn’t budge an inch. She could almost feel the weight of tons of earth pressing against it.
Frantically, she clawed at the satin above with her fingernails, wondering how long her air would last. How much torture would she have to endure before finally smothering in this cold, dark place?
Oddly, though, her frantic scratching produced results. Pieces of the satin coffin lining fluttered down from the lid and landed on her face.
Had her nails done that?
Even more oddly, she realized that she could make out vague shapes in front of her. Somehow, even in the utter darkness, she could see. Her hands before her face looked gaunt and strange, her fingernails incredibly long and sharp. And she had, indeed, damaged the satin coffin lining.
She tried again, her nails tearing and scrabbling against first the fabric, then the batting, then the wooden lid of the coffin itself.
Slowly, inexorably, the lid of the casket splintered away.
If I can make it through the lid, maybe I can dig my way out, she thought. If only my air doesn’t give out! Strangely, trapped and with death seemingly certain, Tammy discovered she’d lost all thoughts of suicide. Now she wanted desperately to live.
And more than that, she realized now that it was Jimmy who had pushed her to self-destruction—Jimmy and all her false friends. How she’d make them pay when she got out! They’d regret driving her to such desperate straits.
She clawed and clawed until her strength gave out. At last, she poked a small hole in the coffin lid. A tiny trickle of dirt fell on her cold face, but she could go no further.
She stopped, trying to rest, wondering when her air would run out, feeling panic freeze her bones.
Then she heard something.
Nearby. Coming from above her. Digging.
Someone was coming to dig her out!
“I’m here! I’m here!” she shrieked.
Maybe it was a gravedigger, realizing his mistake. Tammy’s cold breast swelled with hope.
He was scratching the lid of the coffin now, right above her.
“Help me! Save me!” she called, her voice shrill and tinny.
The hole in the lid of her coffin grew larger as long, bony fingers broke through it, tearing off chunks.
“Help me! Help me! I’m alive!” she screamed. “They’ve buried me alive!”
A hideous pale face with a rat-like muzzle poked through the hole.
“Shut yer yap!” the creature hissed. “Do you want to wake the dead?”
The face pulled back, and another, hooded head came close to the hole. Tammy couldn’t see the face within the hood. “It is too late, to shuck your fate,” said the Poet. “When all is said, you’re just undead.”
Tammy smiled as the realization sank in.
She ran her long, pitted tongue over her sharp, pointed teeth. How nice her teeth and nails were now—sharp enough to kill, perfectly suited to her new plans.
Just perfect for revenge.