Wow these prompts are really easy to write!8D So easy that I finished the second chapter less than 24 hours later!8O Knowing exactly what needs to be in the chapter to represent the prompt makes it super easy, and I like that the chapters are rather short too:3

He looked forward to his new beginning, at least until Shinigami-sama pressed two bare finger bones to his forehead and then all he knew was pain and darkness.

In the pitch black enclosure he found himself in, all he could feel was an excruciating coldness that somehow seemed to burn throughout his entire body, especially in his chest when he breathed—or tried to breathe. Wherever he was, there was no air, and he could barely move any part of his body more than a couple inches. It was almost like he was in a…

Sakumo refused to let his mind finish that thought, because if it did, he would panic, and panicking was probably the worst possible thing he could do right then.

"In order to prove your worth, Hatake-san, you will have to pass a series of tests," Sakumo heard Shinigami-sama's voice in his head, "Your first test will be to survive. You must escape or you will die." Hearing the death god's voice in his head didn't seem odd to Sakumo. He'd expected it. Actually, it was probably odder that he didn't find it unusual.

Escape, Sakumo thought to himself, his lungs burning ever hotter. He would have liked to have taken a moment to revel in the simple fact that he could feel anything at all, but he didn't have the time. If he was where he thought he was, he didn't have a second to spare.

Summoning all his neglected knowledge of chakra control, Sakumo concentrated on the lightening nature of his chakra, letting the blue electricity chirp all over his pained body. He wiggled his arms up to put his hands together over his chest and throw together a few seals, bypassing the traditional naming of the jutsu. When he pressed his palms together for the final seal, the lightening from all over him shot straight up, piercing through the wood of what he was sure was a coffin and slicing through the earth above, hopefully softening it up enough that he could dig his way out.

His head was starting to throb with the lack of oxygen when Sakumo started scrabbling at the debris of wood splinters and rocky earth. He clawed blindly in the simple direction of up, struggling to keep himself from trying to inhale, because the dirt and dust in the oxygen-less air was making him want to cough, and coughing led to more breathing in of dust, and so on and so forth.

The surface seemed to never come. How far down was he? Shinobi had special seals put on their coffins to keep people from getting to the corpses, but they weren't buried any deeper than a normal person. Yet it felt like the surface was much more than a mere six feet away. Damn, Sakumo thought to himself, if I'd been a civilian I could have been buried in a mausoleum. That would have made this so much easier…

"If you were a civilian, you wouldn't have been given this chance," Shinigami-sama reminded him.

"If I was a civilian, I wouldn't have killed myself in the first place and none of this would have been a problem…" Sakumo countered as he shoved a rock the size of his head away and slithered his way into the space it had formerly occupied.

"You might not have had a son either."

"The hell I wouldn't…" Sakumo grumbled.

"Perhaps you should concentrate on the task at hand, Hatake-san, rather than bickering with me. We will have time for that later—if you survive, that is."

Sakumo grumbled some more in his head, but couldn't argue the fact that the Shinigami was absolutely right. He was really starting to get desperate. It seemed every time he made a little progress, it was all for naught. Where was the surface? Where was the precious air he needed to breathe? It couldn't be too much further away, could it?

Sakumo's head was starting to spin and it was getting harder to lift his limbs and move. His fear of death intensified as his body grew sluggish. I've only just escape from death two minutes ago and already I'm afraid of it again...

Tears poured from the corners of Sakumo's closed eyes, partly from his shameful failure, and partly because the lack of air was becoming more and more painful as the seconds ticked by. He lifted his right arm for what he knew was going to be the last time. He had no hope that the surface would be beyond the rubble in front of him; he'd already deemed himself an utter failure—once again—but decided he would give his all in this last, feeble attempt to escape.

Once again calling upon his lightening-natured chakra, he concentrated a current of it into his clenched fist and smashed it as hard as his heavy arm would allow into the dirt just above his head. The clotted soil exploded upwards, freeing Sakumo's head of its weight, just as Sakumo's body went limp and he lost consciousness.

--

The first thing he realized when he opened his eyes was that he wasn't dead. If he'd been dead, Sakumo was sure he'd be in a great deal of pain in Hell, surrounded by demons and monsters of all shapes, sizes, and colors.

He lifted his head off the rock it was resting on and tilted it back to stare straight up into the bright blue, cloudless sky. All around his head was several feet of hard, packed dirt. The rest of his body was still stuck in the earth below. His right arm and his head were the only part of him exposed to the elements.

Still slightly dazed from waking up alive, Sakumo somehow managed to lift the rest of himself into the small crater he'd made with his last, lightening-charged melee. He crawled out of the rut and splayed himself out on his back for a moment. He closed his eyes and just breathed.

I'm alive.