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It smells like dirt. I think my eyes are open, but I can't see anything. Everything is as black as the inside of my eyelids and there's an obliterating silence to go along with the darkness, making me fear that I have gone deaf as well as blind. In my throat, a steady burn is swelling to a raging fire. I move my hand to massage my throat, but before I can raise my arm more than a foot from my side, it's stopped by some sort of barrier. Carefully, I feel around with my hands and feet: it feels like rough plywood encasing me from head to foot. Suddenly, that overwhelming, heady scent of dirt makes sense.

It's a coffin. I've been buried alive.

My breathing turns into gasps that pull painfully against my raw throat. How the hell did I get here? I try to dredge up my last memory of...anything, but everytime I try and concentrate, it slips away like a dream. All that I can hold on to is a vague impression; something to do with fear, and pain, and blood. Lots of blood. The fire in my throat blossoms into an excruciating crescendo as my mind shies away from focusing on that too hard.

Finally giving in to the mounting panic, I start banging on the lid of my tomb with clenched fists, screaming wordlessly. After only a few moments, the wood begins to weaken under my blows and small clumps of dirt filter down through the cracks, sticking to the tear tracks on my cheeks and getting in my hair. Distantly, I register the fact that there's no way I would normally be able to break through so easily. I chock it up to adrenaline and shove it to the back of my mind.

There's a good sized hole in the lid now, and I feverishly rip at the edges to make it larger. Only as the earth starts streaming in heavily do I realize that I'm going to suffocate long before I make it to the surface—but I don't care. I just need to get out. The cuts and splinters don't even faze me as I continue to feverishly pull at the ragged shards of wood. Once the hole is big enough, I take automatically draw in a deep breath and wriggle through, fighting against the current of soil flowing back into the casket. I'm swimming through the layers of mud and clay, my arms and legs moving so frenziedly that I'm afraid I'm not making any progress. For all I know, I'd gotten turned around and am only digging myself a deeper grave.

I've been fighting my way to the surface for more than a minute now and I feel absolutely no discomfort from my neglected lungs. There's no tightening of my chest or a desperate need for oxygen. Not breathing feels no different than breathing. I'm beginning to get an inkling that somehow, things are even stranger than I had thought, when I finally break through the surface into the chilly night air. Reflexively, I begin huffing and puffing like an asthmatic, as if it's an old habit that I can't shake, but it brings no relief.

What it does bring is a flood of information. Whether it's from being deaf and blind underground for who knows how long, my senses are exceptionally sharp. There's so much sensory info that I have trouble distinguishing the different scents and sounds at first.

I half crouch, perfectly still and filthy above my unmarked grave on the edge of a cemetery. Methodically, I sort through what I can smell nearby. The smaller animals in the woods off to the left are faintly enticing in an unfamiliar way, but I ignore them for now. The smell of freshly turned earth is coming from my own clothes and it's getting in the way of the other, more interesting smells. There. This scent is more well-known to me somehow than my own. It's less than a hundred yards away, but rather than going to this one familiar thing in the sea of lost memories, I cower before a deep fear. Again, I can almost remember what preceded my premature burial, but before I can get a clearer picture of what happened, something else seizes my attention.

Without thinking, I straighten and silently move through the cemetery, crossing over graves and between headstones until finally reaching the street. It's really late, so there are no people around except for the lone figure walking along the sidewalk on the other side of the road. A breeze wafts his delicious scent across my nostrils and the omnipresent burning in my throat flares to new life. My world shrinks to a blood-red pinpoint, focused on the bit of pale neck that I can see reflecting moonlight above his jacket collar.

Soundlessly I cross the road, keeping to the trees so I remain unseen while I stalk this man. I forget that this is a person, someone I might know. I forget that I was recently buried alive by someone as yet unidentified. I forget that I'm supposed to be human. All that matters is that my razor-sharp eyes pick out his pulse beating under his jaw from a hundred feet away. He smells luscious and I'm hungry.

He only has time to voice a brief guttural grunt before I set upon him with my teeth and my hands, silencing him with a fountain of his own blood. The taste is heavenly. I drink and drink, but while the urgency of my burning throat somewhat lessens, it doesn't subside completely. I need more.

I stand up, looking for more prey, the ravaged corpse at my feet already forgotten. The night breeze tells all, and before long I'm off hunting again, leaving the shreds of my humanity behind in the park with the remains of my first meal.


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