I'm piecing this thing together, so I jumped to near the end. Here is what I came up with...
Digging your own grave is time of panic and lament. The soil for my grave smells like dry molted compost and vanishing earthworms in full retreat. Each cut of the shovel’s blade unearthed a little more of the space I will soon occupy. My mind jumped to the home I always thought I would one day build, with its fresh paint and open floor plan. This dirt hole is not even close to what I imagined. It will be the only home I will ever build.
I keep digging trying to forget why I am here. As always, I fail miserably.
I don’t bother to glance over my shoulder to see if Victor is still watching me dig. I can feel the cool bite of his predatory eyes on me. I dig on, working steadily, but not too quickly. I run through the fatalistic logic that drove me to start this project. I re-embrace my commitment, a commitment fueled by a lifetime of regret and apathy. I close my eyes and dig.
The swirling after images of reds, yellows and shadows spin in my fading vision as my eyelids consume the last of the starlight. The swirls coalesce into the curves and angles of Daisy's face. Her eyes glimmer with an inferred beckoning wish for me to buy her time to escape. I’ve made this choice already. I turn my shovel onto the pile again revealing more of my hidden home.
Pausing to wipe my brow, I lick my lips and taste grimy flakes of earth and stone. Each scoopful of damnation puts more particles in the air. Mother Earth offers as little mercy as my captor. I begin to choke and cough until my lungs burn.
When make spasms subsided Victor relents to taunt me.
“What’s the matter Laz? Changing your mind? Her life has to look like a nice trade for yours. Sure would beat dying on this Island. Hell, if you don’t believe me, I’d buy your trust with a sip from my water. I am not a bad guy. I am just a guy with secrets to keep. You don’t know shit, so I ain’t worried about you, Mr. Beakman. Dr. Daisy, she is a different story. Give her to me and only she has to die. Speak now or keep diggin’.”
Without pause I screamed a howl of primal angry. My body longs to channel that rage into killing Victor with my shovel. A simple turn, a short charge and the confrontation would be over. Him or me, locked in one last grapple. My heroic gesture would be lost in the bark of his gun’s muzzle and the echo of fate’s last whisper. I am already defeated and dead, so the scream dies a cruel muffled death caged in the confines of my throat. It never is voiced.
We both know he wants me to attack. The hole is deep enough for a shallow grave. It would be easy enough to cover me and never look back. I would be a small hillock that hikers who strayed from the main path would crest and then proceed down passed into the newly formed hummock without making note of the change to the terrain. I would be trod on in death as I was in life.
Measure after measure of dirt gets added to the pile as I slowly disappear into the earth. Every quantity of this world heaped up puts a tiny distance between my guard and me and yet inches me closer to my executioner. Minutes of digging grow into an hour. Each second widens into an eternity. I dig on.
There are small blessings in the depths of my hole. As it begins to really take shape into a grave, Victor’s companions don’t return. Every moment they don’t return lends hope that she has escaped, slipped off the island in some miracle. Each tic of the clock there are glimpses of faith leaving me to believe my sacrifice might truly be granting her life. Free living. Not the terror of seeing the end coming, the universe slowly giving over to the inevitable conclusion of all life.
“You’re almost done. Just a little more digging there Grayson my friend and you can rest forever. That is unless you want to give up our mutual friend” Victor said. His voice was a pleasant break in the rhythmic “thunk, thunk” of my shovel. The next sound I heard was the soft chunk of a nearly empty plastic 16.9 ounce bottle of water next to me. Was I being offered a dying wish? A sip or two of thirst quenching H20? Not questioning it further I grabbed at the eco-friendly thinner bottle and washed away a little of the pain and dirt. One sip followed the first and my ecstasy was at an end. The reprieve, however short, had been welcome.
Victor prompted me back to work with a wave of his 9mm pistol. It’s cool metal would soon issue forth my doom. Mine was a doom I had not yet thoroughly accepted, but one I no longer was trying to avoid. I grabbed the shaft of my earthmoving tool, sighed regretfully and dug deeper.
The strike of metal on a buried object is jarring. The sudden stop of the cutting edge rattled through me like shiver and my stomach began to turn. Rather than experience that sensation twice, I dropped to my knees to see if I could use my hands to free the object as I had done with several fist sized rocks previously. As my fingers felt for the placid firmness of stone I was affronted with an unwelcome scent that told me stop. As my hands slowed their approach they found contact with the source of the smell completing the mental connection. It was the smell of rotting flesh, not too recently dead, but not too fresh either. Despite my desperate need not to know who this was my hands probed to expose more an more of the corpse. As dug my tormentor spoke words for me to tell him what I had found.
When I didn’t speak a single word rang out, “Here”.
Time slowed further as the yellow green light of a glow stick thrown into my grave filled the tiny chamber wall-to-wall illumination. The eerie light cascaded around me, broken only by my shadow. It joined me, hunched as I was, in silent terror.
The once beauty of the familiar face waited for my ceaseless revulsion to subside. Her patience for me to join her in death would soon be rewarded. We would be together forever. My task was now complete, my failure final. I slumped forward and began to cry in tearless desolation.
“I see you’ve found her,” he said. “Thanks for that, I was beginning to worry I’ve have to kill you before you found her. I would have hated to ruined your surprise.”
In my despair, the hole began to refill from above.
In my despair, the hole began to refill from above.