VIVISEPULTURE by Harris Coverley 

Locked in.

Boxed in.

Not free.

But that’s okay. That’s fine.

I can stretch my arms… to the sides of the coffin. Tap my knuckles. A cheap wood, but strong enough to hold up the dirt above… I hope.

What the hell was that?

Just breath.

My own breath.

Please be my own breath.

Breathe in… breathe out.

In… out.

Normal.

Scratch at the sides for a bit. Ouch. What’s that? Have I split a fingernail? Feels rough. That’s gonna drive me crazy. A rough nail. I’m gonna have to wait all night until I can trim it down, get the nail file. All damn night. Night. It’s as dark as night in here. Darker even. Nothing to look at.

I’m bored.

You knew the risks though.

Dickhead.

What is that…?

Dirt? Dirt on my fingers? Am I going to get sepsis now? Gonna to break it open in the morning and find an inflamed tetanus filled corpse? Christ, the world is disgusting, and I’m gonna to die for some bullshit.

Probably nothing though. Probably inhaled the dust already… nothing untoward yet. Dozens of cuts across the years dragged through dirt and mud and crap and piss… being a boy you do that, you do it all.

Probably nothing.

You worry too much.

Nothing bad is going to happen. It’s simple enough. Spend the night in a coffin, the debt is cleared. Simple. Simple. That was the bet, and you lost. A man is true to his word, like your father always said. Simple. Simple.

Oh god.

What if…?

No.

Can’t think like that. It’s alright.

Just focus on… what?

It’s black. Your world is black.

Just try to get some sleep.

My head aches already, flat against this wood. Try to rearrange. Ow. Ouch. Ow. Too sore. Can I rub my own head in here…? Just… ow…

Can I make a hand pillow?

No. Not enough room. Ow. Elbows. Ow. Arms back straight. Lie ’em down. Relax ’em. Relax the whole body.

Go to sleep.

Don’t think. Just don’t think.

Just go to sleep.

Sleep.

I can’t sleep.

Shit.

This is so fucked up.

How did this all come about?

It was all going nicely: it was you and the boys, Alexi and Anatoliy, Dimitri, the night watchman from the County House dorms, the porter, all playing cards in the admissions office, it was about nine at night, all was cool, a good game, and then an hour later, bang: buried alive. Bad bet. Bad wager. Stupid. Pointless. One night. Shit. Damn. Couldn’t get out of it.

How are there Russian gangsters at a British university anyway? Sorry, sorry: Russian “niche businessmen”, but who buys that? How the hell did it happen? Are we really that desperate for money? You should know: you’re a damn administrator. You do the day to day of the university. You know how tight things can get. You know how tight things are. It’s all fucked up… foreign money, which ended with British money, your money, in Russian wallets… Russian gangsters, Russian oligarchs, Russian grey zones, British grey zones, transcontinental, the Common Market… that doesn’t make any sense… Russia isn’t even an EU member. Then again, neither are we anymore. How does this all come about?

You were smart once. Your parents believed in you. It was all golden, the road was bright. You got your Masters in Education and you had it all in front of you. All of it. Fifteen years later, bang: buried alive. Shit. Fuck.

Go to sleep.

Can’t.

Go to sleep.

Ow. Cramp. Thigh, right thigh. Twist onto your side… you can barely move. Damn. Shit. Hip’s touching the roof… it’s not the roof is it though? It’s the lid. Lid roof. Roof lid. Coffin.

Maybe if I keep thinking about nonsense I’ll bore myself to sleep.

What time were they coming to get me? 7 am? Yeah, 7… or was it dawn? These thugs like to do things by dawn and dusk and night and all that… they think they’re poets. They’re just thugs.

Dawn or 7 am.

What time was dawn yesterday?

You were hungover. You didn’t wake until nine, and the sun was well up. Is it autumn yet? Or is it summer still? Does it matter? The air is warm in here. Does that mean summer still? Or is it just body heat? Will I dry out? Will I choke to death before the morning? Just don’t think about it. If you think about it it’ll happen. Don’t think.

Sleep.

Can’t sleep.

You can.

No.

Sleep.

No.

Can’t sleep.

Shit.

Okay, what are you going to think about? Take your mind off this and maybe you’ll be able to drift off. Just concentrate on anything else.

Anything else.

I need some pot. Pot would set me right.

Drugs worse than the booze. And I love the booze. But drugs are fun. Very fun. All the new friends I’ve made… shit friends. Don’t talk to them anymore.

This is why you’re like this.

This is why you’re messed up.

This is why you don’t call your mother anymore.

This is why you haven’t received any form of promotion for three years.

This is why you prefer to share a crappy post council estate hovel with a dead leg flatmate even though you pull in thirty grand a year.

Booze.

Drugs.

Booze.

Drugs.

All the fucking time.

Damn it.

This why you’re in a fucking coffin.

This…

…fer…

What the hell was that?

…pah…

My own breath again? Just breathe… slower, slower… normal… in, out… nothing, nothing.

Maybe just the wind. Can I even hear the wind down here? Six feet deep? Or were the Russians lazy? Was it more like five foot? Four foot? Could I kick my way out? I’ll give a test kick…

It’s possible. Would it work? Don’t know.

If I managed to kick out—and that’s a big fucking if—what would actually happen? Is there a guy standing watch? Would he just put me back in the coffin? Or would he beat the shit out of me? Or just shoot me? Even if I escaped they’d come after me, do me in.

And what if it isn’t just a few feet from the ground? The dirt would rush in, suffocate me in moments. They’d dig me out in the morning, a big, bloated, dirty, septic, drunken, drugged up corpse… probably stuff me, put me at card tables for a joke. Bastards. They’re all bastards.

No.

Don’t do anything.

Just go to sleep.

Sleep.

Can’t sleep.

Shit.

…idiot…

What the fuck? Who’s there?

Am I going mad?

What the… what was that?

…me…

Oh god… who’s there? Dimitri?

…Dimitri? Don’t you recognise…

Recognise?

…recognise…

Recognise…? Recognise who?

…recognise…

Who? 

…your own wife…

What…? Fiona?

…yes, good, the great genius, he remembered his wife’s name…

That’s impossible, you’re in… in a coma… but… it is you…

…and I bet you want an award now don’t you…?

Well, I…

…think you’re a good husband just because you can remember your own wife’s name…?

Well, look, I don’t even know…

…you piece of shit… you never even come to see me…

Now look ‘ere…

…I have no time for your nonsense…

The last time I saw you, you seemed to have a hell of a lot of time on your hands.

…bastard…

Well, at least that hasn’t changed in your mind.

…first class bastard…

Yes dear?

…I had a stroke after years of caring for you, a worthless sack of rot of a man, and this is how you repay me…?

Serves me right for marrying an old trout.

…how dare you…

How dare I? How dare you intrude on my affairs in here?

…idiot…

Yeah, yeah, yeah, heard it all before.

…the things I’ve seen…

Oh, please don’t bore me with it. I’ve had enough of it for a lifetime.

…the things I’ve seen… in the dreamlands of all mankind… you would not believe… shifting from plane to plane… sifting through the wonders…

Did you pick up a personality while you were there? Something more interesting?

…you can’t hurt me any longer… I live in the gaps between realities…

Fantastic, don’t bother to write.

…and your doom is imminent…

What… what do you mean?

…you’ll see…

No, wait, stop! Don’t go!

…you’ll see…

Fiona?

Fiona? 

You shrivelled up old hag! You vindictive bitch! Come back ‘ere!

Damn it!

What the hell does she mean? “Doom is imminent”? Sounds like a bad gothic drama… a Bulwer Lytton nose turner… you were an English teacher once you know—shut up! Don’t talk about that! Don’t ever mention that!

I’ve gone mad in here. Clearly.

That couldn’t have been Fiona. She’s dead… well, not dead, in a coma… but that ghost—

No, no, no, no! None of that! No ghosts, no spirits, no parapsychology, no telekinesis, no voices in the night… I’m just finally getting tired. I’ll drift off soon… or am I already asleep?

I can still feel the sides of the coffin. Just lift up… ow. Still the pain in the back of the head. Gonna have a swelling in the morning. All swollen up. Sepsis again. No, no sepsis. Just soreness.

I’m going mad in here.

Just go to sleep.

Drift off.

No.

Can’t sleep.

Shit.

Did I just talk to my wife from beyond the grave?

Is that a good pun? Are there ever any good puns? Or are they all bad?

Wait: you’re distracting yourself.

Just look at it like this: you’re tired and can’t sleep. You’re in a very stressful situation, and sometimes even the most ordinary people will hallucinate just a little bit, not a lot, just a little. It happens.

You’re not normal though.

This is the drink.

The drugs.

The gambling.

The coffin.

Fuck.

Just go to sleep.

Sleep.

No.

Can’t sleep.

Shit!

Am I just so pumped up? Is my brain still full of something? What did I take last? E? No, that was a fortnight again. Meth? Nope, that was last month. So what could it be? Just beer and whiskey? That’s surely left my system by now—I took a piss just before I got in here.

Nope there’s little to nothing in my body that could be doing this—unless I’m broke in the brain. But it’s best not to think about that.

Just go to sleep.

Sleep.

Can’t sleep.

Shit!

Why…? 

…kah…

Oh Christ, not again…

…buh…

Fuck off, Fiona, I don’t want it! Can’t stand it!

…nar…

I swear, Fiona, if you were here now I’d give you such a—

…I am not… Fiona…

Who the…who the hell are you?

…we are…

We?

…we are… those who came before you…

What the hell does that mean? Get out of here! Get out of my mind!

…we are projecting…

What?

…we are projecting…

Projecting? Projecting what?

…we are projecting… ourselves…

Right… and…?

…we are projecting… ourselves…

And what? What is it?

…through time…

Yeah, fucking right…

…to see what comes beyond us…

This is not happening. This is all crazy! I’m crazy! Must go to sleep! Deal with it in the morning!

…we do not need sleep… we are the Kram…

Bullshit.

…we hunt for the flesh…

Dream. A nightmare. A fucking nightmare all of it!

…we hunt for the flesh of the others… we will conquer them all through spear and mouth and tongue…

Who are these… “others”?

…the lesser… the primitive…

Are you… “men”?

…of a kind… like you…

And these others are beasts? Animals?

…other men… lesser men… weaker men…

Oh Christ…

…we are the Kram… the masters of the land… we take what we need…

Nothing is real.

…all is real… what has become of our descendants…?

We’ve stopped eating each other’s flesh for one thing.

…how unfortunate… we feel the reason for our advancement is the eating of the brain…

Oh, Jesus…

…of the weaker…

Oh, I feel sick…

…we absorb their powers… their memories…

I’m gonna vomit…

…soon we will float in the skies like birds…

I haven’t thrown up for a while… I have to spit the rest out… urgh, it’s in between my teeth…

…and write in our own language with our own marks…

Oh god, the smell… I’m going to be stuck with this the rest of the night…

…we will conquer the entirety of all…

Go away!

…do not deny us…

I will deny you! I WILL!

…do not deny us… son…

It’s going to come again…

…son…

Oh… I didn’t know I could fit so much in my stomach… thick and lumpy…

Shit, it’s in my hair… it’s everywhere!

I don’t care—I’m not dying like this!

I’m gonna kick my way out!

One, two, three… kick!

Three, two, one… kick!

Rest, rest… was that a splinter? I can’t see in here! Bastards took my phone. They’ve taken everything of mine!

I can feel… something. Something in the wood. An edge. Sharp.

Right, aim and fire. Concentrate!

Three, two, one… kick!

And… and… and…

I can’t breathe.

Is it the puke?

No, no, I’m convulsing…

My chest… is so tight…

I can’t breathe…

The oxygen in here… all the oxygen… it must be… it’s gone!
 



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