I held my hand up in front of my face. I moved my fingers.
I couldn't see anything at all. Nothing. I couldn't detect the slightest hint of movement. The darkness surrounding me was perfectly complete.
I tried to keep my breathing under control. The faster I breathed, the more oxygen I used up, and the less time I would have to live.
That's what I'd heard about being buried alive, anyway. I didn't see why it wouldn't be true.
Not that it really mattered whether I'd have just a few minutes to live or an hour. One way or another, this was it. I tried hard to accept the fact that I was going to die soon, that my life was going to end, that I was already beginning to suffocate. But it just didn't seem like it could be real, no matter how hard it was getting to breathe the air.
I reached out and touched the rough wood only a few inches in front of me. I could feel its raw, grainy texture. The scent of freshly-cut pine was overwhelming.
This was real.
When I was a kid I used to think that the most horrifying way to die would be to be buried alive. Worse than drowning, worse than getting killed in a car accident, worse even than being burned to death. The pain of burning would be unimaginably excruciating, I knew. But the horror wouldn't quite compare to suffocating inside a narrow, hot box beneath six feet of heavy dirt.
I even used to promise myself that I'd never get close to a coffin as long as I lived. Inviting even the remote possibility of ending up trapped inside one seemed like a stupid risk to take.
And yet somehow here I was. I'd let it happen.
I felt around for my cell phone and clicked it on. The screen's dim light glared.
The battery was now almost completely dead. I'd lost count of how many times I'd tried checking my phone for a signal. Nothing had changed; there was no service this far underground, and there wasn't ever going to be.
I clicked off the screen.
Once again I was lost in darkness.
It all started two days earlier when Morgan fell into a coma.
I don't know if it was because her mind just shut down from the trauma of being attacked by Mr. Hershel, or if it was because of some other reason which I didn't fully understand. But right after I saw her curled up in Ian's lap in my car, his arms holding her tightly and their lips somehow pressed together, Morgan convulsed briefly, then collapsed.
Ian tried to wake her.
"Morgan?" He shook her, and when she didn't wake he lightly slapped her face. "Morgan? Sweetheart, you need to stay with me! Morgan!"
But she wouldn't wake up.
I threw the spare clothes I'd grabbed into the back and squeezed beside Morgan, who was now lying slumped and unmoving in the passenger seat.
Ian raced us back to my parents' house. All the way there I did my best to keep talking to Morgan and calling her name into her ear, like Ian told me to do. But every time I gave her another series of brisk slaps, my best friend's head only rolled back down against her shoulder.
In the middle of all this, Ian tried to explain what I'd just seen going on between them. "I don't know what happened," he said. "I don't understand. I was trying to comfort her and suddenly her hands were all over me. And then she was kissing me. After everything she just went through." He shook his head emphatically. "I don't know why she would do something like that."
Everything about Ian's tone should have told me that he was telling the truth that Morgan had just started pressing her body against his and kissing him, out of the blue. But now, honestly, I couldn't be totally sure. The Ian I knew was an extremely honest person, but that didn't mean he was incapable of lying to me. I wasn't naive. After Morgan had told me at the fair that she was cheating on Jason with someone she couldn't name, and after I'd found Ian's hoodie and gun in my car where Morgan had slept, and after I'd just watched the way she'd been kissing him, I couldn't shake the idea that Morgan and Ian had been secretly sleeping together before all of this had started.
For now, I tried not think about it. Somehow I'd find out the truth later, but not now. More than anything else I was terrified that Morgan might die. She still wasn't waking up.