WAITING by Ray O’Bannon

I try to raise my head but can only move a few inches before something stops my movement. A pillow? No, firmer, a padded object. An upturned chair? No, something larger. There isn’t room to raise my knees or stretch out my arms, a firm surface beneath the padding closing me in on all sides. I lie in darkness as my mind skitters around the horrible realization, refusing to face the truth of it.

I scream and scream until my throat is raw, my voice only a strangled whisper. I claw and pound and tear in the darkness, feeling the silky fabric rip away, foam shredding until I reach the cold smooth unyielding metal beneath.

Panic tightens my chest, fills my mind like a swarm of black butterflies. I find no memory of how I came to be here. I know only that I must somehow escape this horrible suffocating entrapment, must break free. But my desperate flailing against the metal proves useless. I lie exhausted, praying for sleep to take me, to release my shattered mind from this terrifying reality.

Eventually I do sleep, but suffer unutterably horrible nightmares. I awake to resume struggling against the hard cold metal, screaming and crying and pleading. I realize escape is hopeless but I can’t help fighting. Even as the silence mocks me. Even as I yearn for the release of merciful death, still I can’t help struggling.

But eventually my energy drains away, as does my hope and perhaps even my sanity. The darkness engulfs me as I lie motionless in my coffin. The death I’ve come to long for eludes me, fluttering just beyond my grasp. And so I wait.

At times, I’m briefly able to imagine myself free of my confinement, opening my eyes to see a million twinkling stars glittering down upon me. But then the stars blink out one by one, leaving only the blackness pressing down upon me. I wait.

Until finally I hear it… a faint scraping sound. It grows louder, the unmistakable sound of a shovel biting into soil. Tears of relief pour down my cheeks, though my tortured throat refuses to release my joyous cries.

Soon there is motion as my coffin is raised roughly upward. A swaying sensation as it is carried a short distance, and then a jarring painful impact as it is dropped to the ground. Through the metal I begin to hear the muttering of rough deep voices.

“…careful of his head….”

A car door opening.

“…can’t sell the skull if it’s damaged…”

Again the swaying sensation as the coffin is raised and carried, and then another impact as it is thrown into a vehicle. I hear an engine roar to life, then the hiss of tires on pavement. Eventually this gives way to the rough sound of gravel, my limbs aching as the coffin is slammed from side to side.

Finally the vehicle slides to a stop. Doors are opened and I again hear a few bits of hurried conversation.

“…and get him inside. Don’t need nobody seeing…”

“… bring the tools. Shouldn’t take long to harvest the parts…”

More swaying as the coffin is carried, the sound of wooden doors being slammed shut. A tilting sensation as I hear heavy footsteps on creaking stairs. Then another painful jolt as the coffin is dropped once more.

Footsteps as the voices fade away. Silence for a moment. Then the angry shouts of men arguing.

“…gotta wait until daylight! You know that!”

“… now, while it’s still dark! Nobody around to…”

“… just get it over with…”

Footsteps as the men return, and now the coffin is shaken violently as the latch is hammered away. A thin sliver of light slides in as the lid is cracked open. Moonlight.

And then the lid is thrust fully open to reveal three forms standing above me. The first holds a lantern. The second leans forward grasping a large thick wooden stake. The third is raising a large sledge hammer, preparing to drive the stake into my heart.

But the moonlight has worked its magic. Power surges through me like a raging black river. I slam the stake aside and rise to the ceiling, glaring down at my tormentors. And finally my throat is able to release my outraged scream.

The man with the hammer throws himself though the nearest window as the other two race for the door. He lands with a sickening thud, then rises to limp desperately towards a rusty delivery van parked nearby. The other two come spilling out of the front door as I watch from the upstairs window. They reach the van and its engine roars to life. I consider stopping them but decide to let them go, smiling dryly as they screech off into the darkness.

I drift to a corner of the room and settle to the floor, where I sit facing the shattered windows. My coffin has been brought to an abandoned farmhouse. It can remain here undiscovered, at least for a while. Reaching out with my consciousness, I sense blood nearby… cattle. They will sustain me. My mind turns to deeper concerns…

It must be a very rare occurrence for a vampire to be unearthed but not destroyed. Very rare indeed. Could there be others of my kind, trapped as I was, waiting for release? Can I somehow find them? Free them?

What of my own survival? Those of my kind are always eventually discovered and destroyed. It can only be a matter of time.

Meanwhile, every sunrise shall send me fleeing back to the one place I most despise… back into that coffin. And this shall be my curse until my ultimate destruction.

But it is not this that brings a tear to my eye as I sit looking out the shattered windows. It’s the stars. A million twinkling stars glittering down upon me. They’re magnificent.