There were things that that person wished they had been able to partake in.

Pink and yellow cakes with almond icing. A marathon. The Chubby Bunny challenge. Driving a dune-buggy. One last breath of air, despite the sour loam taste of it.

The wood above would be scratched, if only they could see. Ragged furrows to match those in their face — or what was left of it anyhow, after the beast had found them. It was easier, then, to think of the awful sting of its claws as they caught on skin and skipped over bone and cartilage. The worst they had been injured before that was a broken wrist from falling off a set of monkey bars in primary school.

This was different. There was something twinging within their chest, some deep and primal emotion that they had no name for. Fear wasn’t right; gibbering seemed closer. Could ‘gibbering’ even be classified as an emotion?

Didn’t matter. Their face burned with more than just the pain of broken skin, and they didn’t need light to know that their nails were barely hanging on to their fingertips. They’d made noises that they didn’t know they were capable of as they tried to dig theirself free of the poorly-made coffin, but it was pointless. Even if they could break through the wood, the breeze-blocks that had been piled on top would crush them.

Maybe it was just lack of oxygen finally kicking in — minutes, weeks, months later, they didn’t know — but that more-than-fear had crushed them down into such a dense point of sensory overload that they simply…shut off. Powered down, like a computer bullying its user into installing Important, Necessary Upgrades.

The burning was something distant, floating, tethered to them only by virtue of their current shared existence. The terror was a spore-like thing now, attached by filaments, pressing relentlessly against the confines of their box. They knew what would happen. It happened to everyone who’d been scratched by the beast. They’d shut down from the inside out, and would lay fallow in the bitter earth, until they awoke with their important, necessary upgrades: teeth, and eyes, and guts waiting for every new meal of pink flesh and yellow bile and fatty icing.

Nothing more than another beast to partake in the hunt.


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