Debtor’s Due

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Darkness was in him, and he in darkness. Whether his eyes were open, or shut he could not tell.

“Where am I?” He said, feeling a million pinpricks of pain run down his spine and into his legs. There was a rumbling from all around. Then silence.

“Hello?” He could feel his voice bounce off rough surfaces and rush back into his ears from all sides. The air was close and stale. A musk perfumed around his nose, cloying at his mind.

Rumbling grew, vibrating within the air, above his head. The man opened his eyes, but there was nothing. With a great gasp of air he lifted a complaining limb, reaching out with numb fingers to orient himself.

A damp surface caressed his fingertips, bespeaking a forgotten memory.

“Ouch!” Light exploded behind his eyes as his mind began to race. Even in the dark his eyes dilated, seeking light. He lifted his head, turning this way and that despite the pain.

Thundering sounded again.

A blossom of luminescence flitted into existence between mud caked shoes. His mud caked shoes.

“What’s that?” He said, holding up a hand, shielding his eyes. He said it more to fill the void around him than anything else.

A rumble came from above his head, and in the light he saw wood, aged water stained wood.

Memories bubbled up and he felt gall rise in his throat.

Sound reverberated right above his face. He threw his arms up in vain, waiting for a physical assailant. Nothing. His hands raked across the wood, reaching toward the light. He sat up, or attempted to, as a result his head connected with solid coldness.

He grunted, twisting around on to his stomach. The more he moved, the more coherent he felt. He was inside something. Another insubstantial cascade fell upon him. He opened one eye and for the first time noticed dust falling from above. The circle of light, now close above his head flickered in and out. For a heart stopping second the light went out.

Tears smarted his eyes as terror caught in his throat.”I’m inside something. Somewhere.”

More reverberations echoed on the walls as he pushed himself towards where the light had been.

And then the memory burst into life behind his eyes. The thundering, the space, the box. He had had a briefcase . . . he had been in a car.

“I had money. Money for. . . oh no.”

Something metal clanged onto the wood ceiling above him. Then what sounded like stones shook down upon him and the light came back.

“No. . .” breath catching in his throat he forced his face against the wood.

“NO!” He screamed as light focused on his retina. A metal spade came into view, scraping against the glass of his peep-hole.  Clods of dirt and stone thundered down onto the worn wood. Onto the lid. . . his lid.

“NO! NO YOU CAN’T DO THIS!” The spade paused, as if who ever was holding it was listening. He remembered everything now.

“DON’T DO THIS TO ME! IT WASN’T ME!”

Soil continued to pour down heedless of the muffled cries. The single pool of light darkened as he twisted, brushing against damp walls.

Voice catching in his throat, he could only whisper, “Don’t. Don’t, d-don’t bury me alive!”

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