Chapter 1: Knock, KNOCK, Knockin' On...
NB: Don’t own any of BtVS or Stargate SG1. I'm just using them for my own amusement.
Is there a mechanism of death, that so mutilates existence no one, gets over it not even the dead? Galway Kinnell
Geez. There was this weird gurgling-belching-squish-squish sound. Like something settling at the bottom of a gelatinous pit. It was kinda grossing me out.
After blinking in the darkness for a few more moments, and realizing that I’d been blinking in the darkness for some time, I listened some more. More glug-glug sounds that reminded me of a sink being de-clogged and slowly…very…slowly…draining. Seriously, ew
Just to make sure where and what that sound was and where it was coming from because it was not only grossing me but starting to annoy me, I waited another moment in the dark, listening. Oh
, I thought. Oh my. I came to the general conclusion that the weird noises were actually coming from...me. Ah…oops
. Passing gas, even that was lax of me.
Out of habit or just maybe reflex, I sat up. Thud.
I was slammed back down, rejected by some seemingly invisible wall and my brain sloshing hard inside my skull. Wall, not so invisible as my forehead flared with pain. Can I get an…o-w--
“What the…?” As I had been none too gently dropped back down, the back of my head was now nestled right where my head had apparently been nestling upon, on some sort of pillow. It felt bowl shaped for some reason, and not that cushy either. But, at least I had that
to break my head fall.The darkness was absolute. I couldn't see anything. I tried again out of reflex than anything else and the rest of me was still waking up from its long slumber.
“OW!” I yowled, but it came out muffled and somehow suppressed, as though some unseen hands was blocking the noises from my throat from truly expressing the outrage of my forehead ramming itself--twice--against a hard object, and the back of head starting to hurt too. I tried to move my limbs but everything was slow and sluggish, drugged. I heard weird scraps, the kind that scurrying mice make when scavenging. Sheesh. Me and my imagination sometimes.
I seemed to be able to pseudo-attempt to try to sit up so my stomach muscles were still stellar and working but the rest of me seemed to resist full range of motion. Crap, I thought after a moment of consideration, was this another test? A big joke, and a bad one at that, or had I actually been hoodwinked and instead of killing me, some asshole put me here? Whatever ‘here’ was. Was this why Giles had been so down lately? Speaking of which…
Wait. This didn’t seem right. I shouldn’t be here, I thought, but that faded to something more immediate like why couldn't I see anything, why was on my back and why couldn't I move? My brain seemed to shut down and static filled my ears. A rush of images, sounds, tastes, hit me hard. A bright light. Blood. Screaming. Falling. White light. Pitch. Then nothing. Sleep. Everlasting sleep. And this, now, whatever this was.
My mind went blank for a moment as I realized that something’d had happened to me. Something important just outside my mental grasp. I tried to reach for it but it just became even more elusive.
Not too long ago I’d…A long time ago what? No, that made no sense. But the sense of utter disconnection frightened me. What was going on? What was happening? What was I doing a few hours ago? But I couldn’t remember things, some…thing…stuff. The emptiness of the unknown was so foggy and heavily obscured in my mind, I only felt
the agony of it. It was an echo, the center of the storm waiting to detonate right on top of me but I was just seeing the storm at a distance, and was lying outside that storm and it was still calm from where I was sitting, or rather, lying down. At that precise realization, the dread lanced through me.
So did sheer panic. I blinked fast, I blinked hard, but it was so black all around me. I just went still, trying to think. What did I last remember? But, honestly, thinking hurt my brain. A lot of somethings swirled inside me, things I couldn’t yet pinpoint. But I was feeling more…myself, less befuddled about some things. I shook my head against my pillow, hearing something faint. A slosh between my ears. Brain still addled but present--check. I tried to move something substantial, like a toe. My Achilles heel. A lock of hair. An eyelash.
Nada. Not even a nervous twitch. I went dead still again. Think Buffy. You’re, The Slayer
, I told myself commandingly. "You can do it," I added aloud, encouragingly. While my mouth worked just fine, my throat hurt. I paused, thinking, thought interrupting thought. “Obviously someone got the upper hand, drugged you and then stuffed you in some Godforsaken box of hell
!” I screamed the last few words. The rage was surprisingly strong. My voice worked--double check. It still came out muffled though. Like, I don’t know but it bothered me, like I was speaking under water.
I closed my eyes, darkness over lying upon darkness. I couldn’t see a damn thing, just the weird smells. I tried to calm down by channeling Giles and Willow. Giles for his expectation that I had to move and figure it out and Willow for her sheer encouragement and belief I really could do anything. It sort of worked but took me a few tries and several false starts; but after some cajoling then bitching then threatening of my own self, I was able to move.
First my feet, the sensation of it’s alive!
coursed throughout, moving upwards, nay, surging
forward, then everything began tingling deliciously, then painfully. Jesus, had I been tossed under a sheet of ice to boot? Pinpricks of sensation. I hissed at the pain as my body seemed to turn into the ‘on’ position. I felt like my cells, individually was arguing with me and preferred its dormant state. I kept forcing myself and the electrical pain increased. I moved my limbs, knuckles brushing against a rough, hard surface.Ow-ow-ow
. My legs and arms hitting something solid. Thwack! Thud! Smack!
“OW. Okay, this really hurts,” I muttered, annoyed. To whom ever. God. Air. Trent Reznor. Something? Or someone?
The words came back to bite me in the face as I began really using all my strength to push at my confinement. I heard a groan, almost like screeching and then I felt a trickle of something odd falling all over me, like dust. I smelled decay, and weird odors. I sniffed…dirt?
“Dirt?” Huh? More fell on, then in heaps, like freaking Mount Vesuvius. Slayers don’t panic, not really or to the point we don’t do the one thing we can do so well, no matter what, and that is to survive. I did however reserve the right to get cranky. I started shouting, mostly obscenities as I was duly pissed at someone, I just didn’t know who yet. I pushed and was pushing without thinking and then I was eating—
“Pppp-ppp-blaaaa.” I was also thinking those exact words too. Dirt all right. I felt chunks settled in my mouth, my nose, becoming gritty in my eyes. At least I knew eating dirt couldn’t kill me, right away. It settled all over me, heavier as it filled the small space. I squirmed, out of sheer panic, and let my hands punched a hole through the wood. It muffled its protest but I eventually won. And I made a hole, big enough so that I could wiggle upward. Piles fell violently on top of me. Right over my chest, and it fell on me like bricks. I heard something crack, not sure if that was me or the wood stressing from the weight. I paused. But I felt nothing, just the oppressive layers of cold.
Waiting for the dirt to do its thing, I remembered Willow telling me something about pounds per square inch and pressure of the earth’s gravity on all living objects. I couldn’t recall anything useful beyond that, mostly because, I’d tuned out after that.
The more I moved, more dirt just settled inside my little nifty box. I could hear the top of my box groaning and knew my time had just become precious. The fact that I seemed to be in an enclosed box and there was dirt above me was alarming but right now, I just needed to get out and pray I wasn’t under that ground too far down.
I began clawing myself a tunnel out of my hellhole, chin tucked in. I was not going to drown in dirt or die stuck in a damn hole, both options which sounded ridiculous. I kept my head down, using my back, shoulders and the back of my head to push the dirt away as I used my hands to dig. Nails broke as I came across numerous rocks, ossified trash, shit, roots. I felt things scarping against me. I heard noises and odd scraping sounds as I moved through the earth, I suppose of insects communicating the disturbance that was me and interrupting their nightly or daily works. I wondered about time, just then. Day, night. I heard larger animals moving and burrowing through their own tunnels, and I realized, I was destroying homes in my wake to reach the surface but it also told I was getting somewhere.
Mostly, I was trying to think as to why the hell was I in a hole to begin with. I shut my eyes tight, kept my mouth closed, and now knew how bugs and bunny rabbits felt. I used my feet, finding enough compacted dirt to help me along. But it wasn’t difficult, I dug my fingers deep into the dirt and just pulled up, my nails, fingers grasping and holding onto anything that helped me upward.
Somehow, I knew that inches from me, was the surface. Before long, I fisted my hands and punched through, hands getting abused from rocks buried and scattered about. And then, finally, I broke free. I imagined the whole thing as my head poked out. It was like being born. From the earth, I came forward, and reached air. I came forward, and became--
“You know what, not going there. Once was enough,” I muttered, jerking my other shoulder and arm free. I struggled to get the rest of me out, my feet fluttering like I was trying to swim out of here. Once out, I shook the dirt off my clothes--very demure and all black (how depressing). The thought gave me pause. This was not something I would have ever picked out. I looked down at the one low-flat heel that had survived along with me, the long flouncy skirt and boat-necked, long-sleeved number, which managed to surprise me more than perhaps being stuck in a hole.
“Ack!” Horrified, I looked at my nails. Ugh. Most were either torn off, like, the whole damn nail, or so jagged and…why were my remaining nails painted this ugly purple polish with…wait, was that a flower painted over the ugly polish? It was official. Giles secretly hated me. But back to my hideous outfit though. “Why me?” I said mournfully. It was something Mom would have picked. Or Giles. Very proper and ladylike. It was decent for a young college aged woman, with responsibilities, with her future shiny and waiting at the end of the yellow brick road. But Mom was dead. Had been, for a while now.
My hands went to my hair, confirming the nest that it was and far worse than the state of my manicure.
Then, that inkling of something that I could not remember hit me again. Then, I just felt so thirsty and stretched thin, shocked that it made my vision spotting with little dots of light and woozy on me feet. I dug my fingertips into my forehead, going tense. Once my head felt less weird, I picked off clumps of grass and dirt, which held on like little teeth on the cotton blend and polyester number I was sporting. Really. Not my style. So not my color…
I felt…I didn’t know what. I looked around helplessly, still spitting out grass and grit, and shaking, rubbing, brushing dirt out of places that had no right to be. Violated by earth, that was a new one, even for me. I looked down at the mess I’d made. The body sized hole. I swallowed, found my throat dry, and ended up coughing until I was nearly gagging. I fell on my knees, right next to the ant mound I’d made. The fit having run its course, I stared at my plot, then around me.
Sunnydale Cemetery. I cocked my head to the right. Well, that was strange, and not, and really morbid. Cemeteries were sort of my deal. Then, the world sharpened, ever so brilliantly. It was dawn, the late afternoon sun had just slipped down as I’d come up. The wind was gentle, barely a caress, but the night was cold, but I didn’t feel a thing. I shook my head. No. It was just…the after affects of being buried alive. Right? I mean…it didn’t even sound sane to me at that point. And I’d seen and done a lot of crazy shit.
I hadn’t noticed it right away because I was at the far edge, behind a tree, hidden. There was no gravestone, nothing to mark where I’d once lain, quiet and unknown to…everyone. A chill swept through me. Time had slipped, and I could feel it in my bones. My skin felt strange on me, like it wasn’t mine, changed, transformed somehow.
What the…what the hell was going on?!? I entertained the idea that this wasn’t Giles doing because as much as he wanted me to be the 'best I can be', he wouldn’t be cruel. His tests wouldn't go this far.
How long had I been there? Who had put me out? How had I survived? Other thoughts came rushing at me, the fear lapping at the periphery of my consciousness. I looked at the hole again, and it was dark, and it was a freaking hole I’d dug myself out of.
I closed my eyes, breathing in, which I found difficult for some reason, then blew out. And ended up choking. I hung onto the tree and bent over. I put a hand to my chest, and felt…nothing. What the bloody hell?
“Work body, work, damn you,” I wheezed out, my voice coming out strangled and barely a whisper. I did feel mostly okay, weird, disoriented and confused, but…okay.
Had I really been buried? Alive? Dead?
But why? What had happened?
“And, damn it all to the Hellmouth back, somebody tell me why the freaking hell
I’m NOT breathing?!?”