Content Warning: Live burial, assault
The tomb reached up to swallow him as they lowered him inch by inch into its black depths. Watching the faces of his dearest friends and neighbors recede, obscured ever more by the brilliance of the sun, from whose reach he was slipping away forever, he felt a dull, immobilizing panic clawing at his chest. He glanced down into the darkness, terror rising up into his throat as his eyes fell upon the many bones carpeting the floor of the cave. They glimmered in the faint light that fell upon them from the mouth of the tomb—and upon the twisted and mangled limbs of his wife’s body lying where they had cast it from above.
Arrayed in her finest clothes and most beloved jewels and adornments, she looked at once both more lovely than he had ever seen her and also strange beyond recognition with her features slack and the vivacity of her form stilled. Her presence nonetheless emboldened him to endure the remainder of his descent with stoic dignity, unheeding of the mortal fear still lingering on the horizon of his consciousness.
He knew what was expected of him, and as his feet came to rest in the soft sand below, he began untying the rope from his waist, then called up to those who waited in the world now beyond, “Farewell, my friends.”
The rope slithered upward with tantalizing languor, and he fought the urge to seize it at the last, to cling to life; but even here, no longer at the threshold of death but in its very dwelling place, he retained enough pride to restrain the impulse. The rope disappeared into the blurred sea of faces above, and he let his eyes drink in this last glimpse of light before the great boulder began to grind back into place over the mouth of the tomb. It fell with a resounding thud as unseen hands let it fall into its place, and its echoes seemed to dance about him long after his reason assured him they had faded into silence.
Alone in the darkness, he staved off despair and madness by doing what he must in any case: groping toward his wife’s body, he straightened her limbs as best he could and arranged her with greater dignity in a small clearing he made among the bones. When he had laid her folded hands upon her stomach and bestowed one last kiss upon her cold lips, he replaced the veil over her face and sat down beside her. Only then, as he softly caressed her hands and wrists, did he allow grief and fear to overtake him at last.
With tears pouring from his eyes, he opened his mouth in a cry of lament, but that cry died upon his lips as a hand seized his chin from behind and pulled it upward. The cold blade of a knife swept up his exposed throat to rest under his jaw.