This is my last writing exercise for the writing class i am doing. The last lesson is this Monday – I am already sad at the thought of the class coming to an end 🙁 The task was to write a complete short story with a developed plot, problem climax and resolution; with understandable characters. I chose the topic “facing a situation where one’s worst fears are confronted”. I hope you like it!
Pat came to – disoriented, groggy, and sore. The past few hours were dim and foggy in his memory. As he slowly awakened, he became aware of sharp pains in his chest – he suspected he had several cracked ribs, but he couldn’t feel any other broken bones.
It was dark, and he reached for the light, but found he could not move his arm more than an inch or two. He tried to sit up, but quickly fell back down. It wasn’t just the pain in his chest, his head had hit something soft yet very firm. He tried to turn over on his side, and realised he was in some sort of cupboard or box, it felt like he was lying down, but he wasn’t quite alert enough to work out what was going on. With growing panic Pat tried to remember what he could of the previous night.
He could certainly remember the kicks, and fat Albert holding him so greasy Joe could get several good punches in. But he must have blacked out. With some difficulty, Pat managed to get his hand into his jeans pocket and pull out his lighter; he flicked it on. He seemed to be inside a padded box. A quilted padded box.
He was inside a coffin. His worst nightmare – was he buried alive? With his heart pounding, and blood rushing to his ears, Pat carefully felt all around the inside of his padded prison as far as his hands could reach; he found the join quite easily, but pushing his fingertips into the gap sent spasms of agony through each broken rib.
By pausing and breathing, and pushing rhythmically he managed to get his right-hand far enough in to the join to be able to prise it apart a little. A few grains of dirt trickled in. He sank back, drenched in sweat and barely able to breathe.
He had no idea how long the air would last, or how deep he was buried. But he knew one thing; he had to get out. Becky would be waiting for him; she would have had dinner ready and started worrying when he wasn’t home before midnight. She would have been frantic by breakfast time, how long had he been here? He had no idea.
He couldn’t have tried to bash his way out if it wanted to. If he was going to make it, he was going to have to use his brains. Slowly and wincing every step of the way, he levered up the lid. Little by little dirt trickled in, and he tried to scoop more dirt out of the way. It didn’t feel like it was packed in too hard – maybe they had rushed, maybe he had a chance.
The air was getting stale, and every small movement was costing Pat effort and energy. He kept going; there was no point in resting or stopping. He was a dead man anyway. Suddenly his fingers broke through to air, whether it was an air pocket or the surface, Pat had no idea. Ignoring the pain completely now, and absolutely focused on moving the dirt he moved slowly and with discipline, taking a handful and pulling it back into the coffin itself.
His hand and arm were ripped raw; he had almost no feeling left in his fingertips. But on the next push to the surface he felt something wet, and then something furry, and then a scrabbling close to his wrist. He quickly prayed to every saint he remembered and even those he had forgotten; he thought he heard a dull and vague barking. Could it be Buster?
A small hand took his through the dirt; she had come looking for him. She had found him. Bit by bit, with their dog digging, and with both of them moving the dirt from either end they managed to clear enough of the soil to lift the lid just enough so that he could crawl out.
He managed to get his head and he shoulders out, but the pain was excruciating now; he kept falling back as the weight of the lid and the soil seemed determined to entomb him. Becky took his hands and tried to pull him out, but he screamed in pain and besides she was far too weak. She and Buster carried on pushing the soil away from the lid, while he hung over the edge – limp but at least breathing fresh air.
He could hear Becky crying, loud, gulping and raw. He would not give up, he had both arms out now and he pushed himself until most of his body was out of the coffin and he was able to wriggle himself free. Buster started licking his face and he could hear the dog’s tail thumping on the ground.
Becky was trying to pull him off, talking and crying at the same time “Buster, Buster let me see if he’s okay, let me see if he’s all right.”
Pat flopped onto his back, and pulled himself into a sitting position. He looked at Becky for a few moments before pulling her into his lap and hugging her as close as he could. His beautiful and brave eight-year-old daughter.