Cold Box Lament

Content warning: this story contains passages some readers might find distressing.

The Initial Shock

I woke up a moment ago. I am cold. Very cold. Save for a very thin sheet covering my whole body, I am naked. I do not feel anything else on me. No earrings, no jewelry, no underwear. All is dark around me. I am also dizzy, and I have difficulties trying to figure out where I am.

I am laying on my back, on some sort of a cold metal plate. I try to move, turn on one side, then on the other side. On both occurrences, I hit some sides. I try to stretch my legs, my arms. I cannot stretch, as I have no room to do so. I instinctively try to get up, my head hits a metal ceiling. I ask, “hello, is anyone around?” Save for my faint echo, I hear no response.

I can hear my breathing and my heart beating.

Where am I? What is this place?

I hear a compressor clicking.

I am horrified as I understand where I am.

I let out an “Oh, for fuck’s sake…”

Am I currently laying in one of those refrigerated morgue storage bins?

I manage to pass my arms and hands above my head, towards the back of this confined storage. I try to push what I think would be the door, a cold metal door, that is. Nothing. It’s locked.

Tick-tick-tock

Denial

“I cannot be locked in a refrigerator, it is impossible. Really, it is a mistake. Someone screwed up and…” I keep repeating these words over and over again. I start banging the door, telling myself it’s a mistake. Why would I be here in the first place? Someone will hear me. Someone will come soon to open this compartment and will let me get out.

This must be a joke. Someone, one of my friends is probably making a joke and I am the butt of it. They have this kind of refrigerator at the university I go to, and medical students do that kind of shit to first-year students. Some of the sickest fraternity initiation tasks, if I may say so: survive in a morgue refrigerator for a certain length of time. Fraternities reek of toxicity.

Or, this is probably only a nightmare. I remember last being at a party with some other people at a friend’s house and I most likely fell asleep. I might have mixed drugs and alcohol in a way I should have never done, although I’m usually very careful about this kind of interaction.

Or, it could be me taking my propranolol pills with alcohol. Those are good possibilities. Something else, too that could have happened: Someone could have laced one of my drinks with GHB. Now, that would extremely be bad. Did I know everyone present at the party…?

This must be it. I fell asleep and I’m in the middle of a dream. I got high earlier tonight at one point, hence why this whole thing feels extremely real. Dreams, while on certain drugs, feel more real than reality could ever feel. I will wake up in 3… 2… 1…

Nothing.

Let’s try this again…

3… 2… 1…

Still nothing.

Tick-tick-tock

Anger

“WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK!”

I yell those words until my throat hurts, I yell those words until my ears can no longer endure the artificial echo created by this refrigerated coffin. I yell those words until tears of anger start running on the sides of my face.

I weep in anger. I repeatedly hit the base of this drawer with my fists, with my heels. I am mad. I don’t understand why I am here and why I cannot get out.

I take a moment to slowly breathe, as I am trying to catch my breath. I let out a sigh, and I yell some more.

“WHO’S THE FUCKING SON OF A BITCH THAT LOCKED ME UP ALIVE FOR CHRIST’S SAKE?!”

While I yell enough to tear my lungs out, I repeatedly punch, as best as I can, the ceiling of my stainless steel coffin with my fists. Between the drawer I am laying in and the ceiling, my arms barely have a clearance space of 3 inches. It doesn’t take long until my knuckles, and my elbows, both start hurting due to the constant impacts.

“IS THIS A FUCKING JOKE???”

I kick the end of the compartment non-stop for several minutes with my feet, like a child having a tantrum would do. Maybe if I am being very loud, people will finally notice something is wrong and free me from this coffin.

“FUCKING HORSESHIT! CHRIST!”

I try to make as much noise as possible while letting out my anger. I go on for what seems to be an eternity, but what would in reality only be 5 minutes.

No one is showing up. Silence reigns as master over this place.

I try once more to push and bang the door as hard as I can, hoping it will break open under the pressure and constant hitting.

Nothing. The door won’t budge. No one is coming. I let out a shriek of anger.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA…”

Tears resume running down my cheeks as I weep.

I am completely exhausted.

Tick-tick-tock

Bargaining

“Dear God, I know we don’t communicate very often together, and to be quite frank with you, I do not believe you exist. I am still reaching out to you, despite now being a Buddhist. I was baptized Catholic, yet due to your inaction in allowing priests and church staff to molest children, I turned my back on you and decided to follow a philosophy instead. Buddha, not being quite a deity, I guess now is a good time to see if you truly exist and want to help me out of this place.”

I yawn, as I am uncertain of what to say next. I scratch my forehead. I’m not good at this praying thing. I try to go on:

“Maybe I have not been a good person all the time throughout my life, yet I can certainly say you have not been good yourself all the time. I mean, you let two world wars happen, the holocaust, and a whole series of other disasters. Usually, thoughts and prayers are not very useful. How about giving me a sign and make that door open up?”

I remain silent for several minutes. I counted the seconds. You know, let’s give God a chance to respond, to give me a sign.

I once again try to pry the door open. No success. I push harder, asking God to help me while doing it this time. Still nothing. I think for a moment and decide on taking a different approach.

“Hey God,” I say. “If you let me out, I will make sure to attend church more often than I already do, which is currently zero times a year. I’ll continue working with the poor and needy, even though I already am the poor and needy.” No answer, no sign. I let out a loud sigh.

Oh, hey, Satan is a thing, too. “Hey Satan, how about you help me get out of this coffin and let me live a normal life? In exchange, when I die of natural causes, you get all the rights to my soul? Sounds like a fair deal.” I pray, although obviously at this point I have little faith anything will happen.

I let time pass, and nothing happens. No prayers answered, no sign, no help, nothing. I am still stuck in this place. I must’ve been trying to find a way out for over half an hour at this point.

Tick-tick-tock

Clock — Image by niekverlaan

Tick-tick-tock

Depression

I drift in and out of sleep. All this banging, all this yelling I’ve done, all those mental gymnastics into praying to God, and its counterparts, who do not answer me, have had the better part of my remaining strength.

I have no idea how long I have been confined in this compartment. Has it been an hour? I can’t tell. I cannot keep track of time. I can only guestimate. I am at a point where I am too depressed to even think of other solutions to try.

Even if I did try something else, I am pretty certain it would never work. I was a fool to think I would manage to make my way out of this place so easily. I fucking hate it. I fucking hate my life now. How can I have been so easily brought up in this place? It does not matter, as I do not see how I will make it out of this place alive.

I am feeling too defeated to even have tears at this point.

Tick-tick-tock

Acceptance

I have panicked, denied this reality, yelled, repeatedly punched this metal tomb, tried to exchange some good graces for my life with a series of Gods that do not exist, cried my life away, all of this for nothing. I know I will die. There is nothing else I can do.

It is now only a matter of time. I have no idea how long I spent awake in this place, let alone the time I was unconscious. I remember reading some reports of people living up to 21 hours in similar circumstances. In my case, I believe it won’t be too long until it’s over, as I feel myself becoming sleepy.

Like when drowning, dying by asphyxia feels the same as falling asleep. Save for the initial struggles, it is a calm and relaxed death. Everything slowly shuts down. The moment acceptance has been made, barely anything is felt. Nothing matters anymore.

The moment we are born is the first step towards our death. In the end, we all die. This, and taxes, are the only two truths to our world. What we do in-between is up to us to make the best out of it, and I have failed at doing so.

As I fall asleep, I have one last thought for my dogs, my cats, my children, and for my partners, whom I will never see again.

Hope

A ray of light enters the drawer I am in, and I feel a gust of fresh air invading my surroundings. As my eyes open wide, and I grasp some fresh air, the drawer fully opens up and rolls out!

I cannot believe someone finally managed to save me! I was there, on the verge of death. I sit on the tray, my legs falling off on the side. As I take deep breaths and I kick my legs stressfully, I take a good look at my savior. I should instead say saviors: there are two of them. Two men I believe, wearing white biohazard suits, black masks with yellow visors, and oxygen tanks. They have matching gloves and boots. They are pretty tall and broad.

I look around the room, as my vision slowly adapts to all this light. It is a morgue all right. The morgue seems of gigantic proportions: A quick count reveals there are roughly 200 refrigerated tombs. Save for a rare few, all units have a descriptive card taped on them, most likely indicating it is occupied with a body.

Throughout the room, I see several stainless steel tables, most of them behind opaque plastic curtains running from a rail near the ceiling towards a few inches near the floor. Through these curtains, I can see the shapes of more tables and what seems to be people doing autopsies. There are a lot of people in this morgue. Why did no one hear me earlier? Was it because it was lunchtime? I look around and see a clock. It reads 3:15.

One of the saviors looks at the other and says. “She spent an hour in there and she is still alive. Had we come up a few minutes later, she would have died.” As I continue catching my breath, I realize my math wasn’t far off. I feel a sense of relief.

The second savior replies to the first one, “Okay, so… let’s send her back in there. Soon enough, we will be able to harvest her organs.” They both nod at each other and turn back their gaze towards me.

I realize in horror what is happening. My nightmare is far from being over. I had not noticed earlier, they both carry firearms to their hips. I start dashing away between them but slide on the ceramic tiles and faceplant on the floor. My bare-naked feet don’t have any grip on this surface and my muscles are exhausted from all the banging I did earlier. I start getting up again, yet I am picked up by my armpits instead, with a savior on each side of me. They lift me as if I were nothing but a plush and put me back on the tray, face up. It is warm. I try to get up again, this time one of them manages to get a good hold on me while the second one sucker-punches my face.

My vision gets extremely blurry. I am dizzy and my head hurts.

What the actual fuck?!

As I protest by kicking and screaming and slashing with my nails. I try to make another break for it. I dash off the drawer. One of them catches my hair, pulls me back, while the other one hits me again in the face. This time, all goes dark.

I come back to my senses and I am extremely disoriented. How long was I out? I could not tell. It does not matter.

I feel high as a kite, too. It does not matter.

Did they inject something inside of me? It seems likely. It does not matter.

I can barely move, again. It does not matter.

This time, my whole body feels extremely heavy. It does not matter.

I feel euphoric. It does not matter.

As I fall asleep, to never wake again, nothing matters anymore.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Unless otherwise indicated, all the names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents in this story are either the product of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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Programmer, translator, writer, gamer, game maker, cat mom. I write mostly thrillers, mysteries, post-apoc short fiction.

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Eve F. R. Kirchner

Eve F. R. Kirchner

Programmer, translator, writer, gamer, game maker, cat mom. I write mostly thrillers, mysteries, post-apoc short fiction.

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