Lie Cold in the Ground

By Lucky_Ladybug

Notes: The characters are not mine and the story is! It was inspired by the prompt Epitaph at Darkficprompts. I'm not intending to leave this as a oneshot (Heavens no!), but it does look terribly creepy and disturbing by itself, doesn't it? It connects with my post-series Pendulum Swings verse, and there is a bit more of an explanation for the villain's return in Taming the Darkness, if anyone wants to look it up. Thanks to Kaze and Lisa for plot help!

The laughter was all around him as he regained consciousness, echoing from every direction and corner of the darkness that had become his prison. Terror froze him for a brief moment, his eyes wide as the treacherous, familiar sound seemed to claw at his very soul.

Where was he? How was he hearing the laughter? How had he ended up in this world of complete darkness?

He tried to raise up, but immediately bumped his head against the low ceiling. He hissed in pain, fighting to push back both his panic and his anger as he rubbed the new injury and felt across the strangely padded floor. "What is this?!" he cried a moment later, struggling to be heard over the raucous cackles. The walls were right next to him on either side. He was enclosed in something. . . . Something dark and much too warm.

He pounded on the ceiling with his fists. "What are you doing?! Let me out of here!"

The answering knock on the outside of the ceiling came almost immediately. "Oh, don't you like it?" sneered the voice of the cruel laughter . . . the voice he had prayed to never hear again. The voice of the creature he had created years before. "I selected it especially for you."

He pushed on the smooth, curving surface with both hands. "Let me out!" he screamed.

"Why would I want to do that?" the demon replied. It sounded like he was sitting on top of the thing, maybe holding it in place.

"I don't care if you want to. Just do it!" His prisoner continued to bang on the roof, both his fury and his fear increasing. How had the devil gotten the better of him? He would not believe this was real if not for what had happened to the Thief King recently. And just like with him, this Egyptian had no remembrance of how he had been captured.

"No!" laughed the other. He was probably going veiny and sticking out his tongue, despite the fact that his creator could not see him.

The teen growled. "You were supposed to have been destroyed!" he cried in despair.

"The darkness sustains me and revives me every time," was the delighted response. "And each time I come back, I'm even stronger. Meanwhile, you're still afraid of the dark, aren't you?"

The boy gritted his teeth. Was he? There was certainly good enough reason to fear it. But he shouldn't . . . not when he had been given hope once again. Why should he fear the darkness when he knew he could overcome it?

Yet he could not overcome his current prison. The night was closing in on him.

Now it sounded like an odd scraping or scratching sound right outside. "Do you know what I'm doing?" the dark being said.

"How would I know?!" his captive snapped. He had never been a very patient person when things were not going his way. This situation certainly qualified.

"I'm carving your tombstone," was the sadistic answer.

For a moment there was a stunned silence. "Tombstone?!" the boy burst out at last. The horror only increased. The thing he was in . . . the padded floor and walls . . . could it be . . . ?

No, how could it?!

. . . Why couldn't it?

"'Here lies Marik Ishtar,'" the cruel entity recited, the sneer obvious in his tone. "'Rest in peace.'" He jumped down from the roof. "I still have to put in your birth and death dates. And you know what comes next?"

"What?" Marik snarled.

Yami Marik placed a foot on the edge, nauseatingly rocking the box that was a casket as Marik cried out in protest. "I have a hole all nicely dug," he said.

The arrow stabbed into Marik's heart. "No!" he yelled. "You can't do that!" He was already in a completely dark space. To be placed in a hole and then have it covered with dirt, further sealing him in. . . . The panic threatened to make him snap and shake the coffin himself to try to break it. But he had to control himself. The air would not last long.

"Of course I can!" Yami Marik exclaimed. "Then, while you wallow in despair, I'll lead your loved ones on a wild goose chase to try to find you in time. And I'll make sure that they can't."

Now the coffin was being dragged across the ground. In spite of his vow to not use up the air, Marik could not help it. He screamed and yelled, barely thinking about what he was exclaiming as he pounded on the wooden box. He was going to be put in the ground! No one would find him. He would die alone in the darkness. . . .

A cry of both panic and sudden illness tore from his lips as the casket was abruptly plunged into the hole, supported by a rope and pulley. The hook was disconnected and reeled in once it hit the bottom, the mechanical whir echoing through his ears like a death sentence.

His wretched Yami continued to laugh, enjoying his suffering. "I hope you enjoy your stay," he said, as the sound of a foot pushing a shovel into the dirt became audible. "And don't scream too much. I want the air in there to last as long as possible, to prolong your torment!"

The first clump of dirt fell on top of the coffin. Marik froze, staring up at the spot on the roof where he had heard it land. This was really happening. It was not some kind of sick nightmare; it was all true. Suddenly he had no presence of mind to scream or claw any more. He was paralyzed with terror.

"Help," he whispered in a half-prayer of desperation, as the shovelfuls of earth continued to fall. Each one felt like an added weight, something he could physically feel pinning him down.

And as the sounds grew fainter and fainter until there was nothing except that weight and his agonized breathing in the endless darkness, he realized with a sinking heart that help was not coming.

He really was being left to die.