The night was dark and cloudy. Even if there was a moon out, you wouldn't see it through the approaching storm. In a graveyard beneath the foreboding sky, a group of teenagers was crowded around something on the ground. A few of them were laughing. The thing on the ground was moving, desperately trying to get up—but the malevolent kids wouldn't hear of it. One of them grabbed a wooden bat from a friend and headed for the unfortunate boy they were tormenting. The kid tried to crawl away, but the teens surrounding him pushed him back. Lying face up, Danny awaited his punishment.
"You wanna quit so badly?" the blond kid asked, smirking down at the seventeen year old. He adjusted his grip on the bat. "You better give us a damn good reason why we should let'chu live."
"Y-you…" He coughed and glared hatefully up at his brother. "You'll b-be c-…caught. They'll kn-know it was you, Aar-ron. All of you will b-be arrested for m-murder." He coughed harder, blood dripping out of his mouth as his shoulders shook.
"Nah, I don't think we have to worry about that," Aaron stated. "Ya see, you may think you're so smart, Danny-" he kicked his brother hard in the side for emphasis. "-but we did our homework on this one. You're gonna write a suicide note; no one'll care once they see that bit of evidence."
"W-what makes-s you think…" Danny started, sitting up with a pained expression, "that I'll do i-it?" His busted lip pulled apart every time he spoke.
"We got su'm to motivate'cha," another tormenter said from the left, his gray eyes dancing with mirth.
From somewhere behind an archaic tomb, another gang member dragged a familiar, struggling teenage girl into the circle. He tossed her to the ground beside Danny and stepped on her back to hold her down. She was bound and gagged; she looked through a curtain of messy russet hair up at Danny, her matching eyes shining with confusion and fear.
"Erica!" Danny cried, one hand instantly reaching for her; Aaron held him back.
"Ah ah ah," he said, clearly amused with his brother's plight. "You write that note, or we kill you and torture her."
"That's an empty p-promise," Danny said, moving to stand. He wasn't stopped this time. "You'll kill her either way…she knows too m-much now. Why'd you drag her into…?"
"Wrong, Daniel. You dragged her into this when you decided to leave the gang. And for what? This skinny little slut?"
Danny lunged at Aaron and hit him square in the jaw—the bat fell from his hands and hit the wet grass with a dull thud. A few other boys had to grab Danny's arms and hold him in place. Aaron wiped the blood from his lips and looked at his furious older brother.
"She is not anything of the sort!" Danny stated vehemently.
Aaron simply grinned. "Did I hit a nerve, there?" The other boys laughed mockingly. "Doesn't matter. 'Cause if you don't write the letter and stop fightin' the inevitable, then not only will we kill you both, but first we'll gang-bang your little—little Erica over there, and we'll make you watch. Sound like fun?"
"If you touch her, I swear to God--!" One of his captors kneed him in the back, right in a stab wound they gave him an hour ago when he first tried to quit the gang.
"Save it for someone who cares."
What could he do? With no hope of escape from the wretched teens he'd once called friends, Danny allowed himself to be led over to a gravestone (one of many in the large cemetery). A blank sheet of paper sat on top, waiting for him. They pushed him to his knees and shoved a pen into his shaking hand. He glanced back at Erica, who had yet to shed a single tear. She probably thought that Aaron would let them go… He sighed in resignation and faced the paper, trying with all his willpower not to cry. He pressed the pen to the white sheet and scrawled a short note.
It's over. There's nothing left for me here. Why did none of you help me when it was so obvious that I was in trouble? Anyone could see I was dying inside. Silly me, I forgot no one cares.
As for my family, I wish you would have noticed what I was trying to say. And to my friends, I'm sorry it had to end this way. Right now, I'm facing the pit of my death.
Only in suicide can I truly save my life.
"Took you long enough. Your handwriting looks like shit," Aaron said while Danny folded the letter and gently placed it on the headstone. His little brother grabbed a handful of his brown hair and pushed him down beside Erica. Danny scooted closer to the girl.
"I'm s-sorry, Erica… I'm so sorry."
She muffled a response and attempted a smile, but it didn't last long. A burly teen came into their sights armed with a shovel and a bloodthirsty grin. A freshly dug grave waited silently behind him; its casket was open and empty. A group of chattering boys were tossing the old corpse out into some trees to make room for new occupants. Danny heard a sniffle beside him. Erica had finally realized their fate.
"Any last words, Kitten?" the big teen –Taylor– asked, bending down to rip the tape off Erica's mouth. In the blink of an eye, her teeth sunk into his hand. her eyes glared ferociously; Taylor stood shell-shocked as his blood stained the dirt beneath them. Only when they heard the crunch of bone did his brain successfully process the situation.
"AH, for fuck's sake! Get off me, you crazy bitch!" he screamed, swinging his shovel at her face.
Danny jumped up to protect his love, and the villain gladly pounded the weapon into his already battered body, still shouting obscenities. Around them, more gangsters were laughing.
When Taylor had enough, two more boys dragged Danny and Erica to their feet, eager to see them in the hangman's noose. Aaron stood watching at the head of the casket while someone tossed his brother in on his back. Erica followed suit, landing roughly on top of her boyfriend. She let out a cry of pain when their foreheads smacked together. Someone made a lecherous comment, but before Danny could defend Erica, the lid was slammed shut.
In the darkness, the couple could hear muffled sounds as the casket was pushed into the grave. Danny wrapped his arms around Erica and held tightly, for her own arms were still bound behind her. She could not prepare herself for the fall. The casket dropped six feet under and hit the dirt floor with a terrible crash. Erica whimpered loudly as her breathing sped up. Death was close enough to taste.
"Shh…" Danny whispered as the first shovel of dirt hit the lid. "I'm sorry, Erica. I'm so, so sorry I got you into this mess. I should've ended it with you sooner! I should've just stayed with the gang. God, Erica, I'm so-" he kissed her in a desperate attempt to convey his feelings. "-so sorry!"
"D-don't be," she said. "You did everything y-you could. I'm not mad at you, Danny..." She shifted, her arms cramping from their awkward position. "We'd planned on this anyway, right? To be together forever, till death do us part?" She smiled briefly.
He returned it as a tear slipped down his face. "That's right, we did," he said, recalling the day he proposed to his beloved. "Our only hope is if someone finds the note in time…" He didn't want to tell her how unlikely that was. He didn't need to.
For hours they lied in silence, feeling each other's heartbeats and tears as the darkness slowly suffocated them. They wouldn't have to wait until starvation to die. By the morning light, they would have no more oxygen to breathe. Erica cried, and Danny consoled her as best he could in the confined space. His heart broke to know she was dying for his mistakes. It was only a small comfort to know he would die along with her.
While the sun rose over the rain-soaked cemetery, the birds sang a requiem for the fallen youths. The all-knowing trees bowed their branches in mourning, and the wind whispered farewell. And just as the sunlight hit their gravestone, the ill-fated lovers breathed their final breaths.