X-Treme - A short horror story of our times

Written by Steve Bridger

He was cradled in the loving arms of unconsciousness, safe, secure, floating in a dark limitless oblivion, soundless, far away from the world of pain.   Inert, but his pulsing brain would not let him rest, would not let him surrender to the sweet siren call of warm endless sleep.  Signals were sent to all parts of his body, feint calls to each nerve end demanding a response – wake up! wake Up!  Limply, his senses slowly answered.  Electric probes of pins and needles washed down his body. Fingers and toes clenched and unclenched.  His nose drawing in overwhelming wafts of pine, sharp pungent,  natural smelling salts that stung him into awareness.  

He opened his eyes to obsidian blackness, no light, total darkness.  His legs and arms moved sideways and were immediately blocked.  He head jerked upwards, his forehead smashing, thumping into wood drawing blood.  His lungs started to pound, stale air gulped down in desperate mouthfuls.  He screamed as the dreadful realisation dawned.  In a mindless frenzy his fingernails clawed the wood, nails digging pine, then falling by his side snapped, broken, bloody. 


At first he heard a scattering of pebbles fall from above, followed by incessant spadefuls falling with a deafening weight reverberating in waves through his solid pine box.  His fists smashed upwards in defiance. “I’m alive alive!” he cried, but no one was listening.

Silence once again. He was totally paralysed with fear. 

What good would shouting do?  Should he accept the inevitable or go down fighting?  Then something strange happened.  He felt the air in the chamber move around him, cool fresh air pumped from above began to chill his toes.  His left foot found an opening to a pipe cut into the wood.  Seconds later his blackness was suddenly lit by an intense pinprick of red light as a fibre optic cable and camera snaked into his nightmare.  They knew he was awake. They knew he was being driven out of his mind.  They knew, but they weren’t finished with him yet.

A plump grey-brown body, four legs and whiskers, razor-sharp teeth and eyes that could see in the dark fell through the pipe.  Then another, and another until the scratching, nuzzling rats began to lick and tear at his flesh, wriggling and jerking, intoxicated by human blood.  The sound of water dripping then flowing freely down the pipe distracted them only momentarily from their gory feasting.  The water rose inch by unstoppable inch.  He felt the slimy snaking bodies of freshwater eels brush his face. He didn’t react. He was too long gone for that. He’d retreated into a protective womb of peace.  He’d given up.  He just lay there waiting for the end, preparing to meet his maker.

They say you see a bright light in near-death experiences.  The light at the entrance to heaven.  His eyes stung as the searing white beam burned deep into his eyes, blinding and stinging. Then an uproar of voices a tumultuous cacophony.  The side of the coffin fell outwards on greased hinges, a microphone thrust into his face.  “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Winner of X-Treme Reality ”

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