Dave Connor was only thirty two years old when he unexpectedly passed away. He was still only thirty two
when he even more unexpectedly undied. At first he couldn't remember h ow he'd ended up in that shallow
grave; he just knew it was hell to claw his way out, and that the taste of its dirt would remain in his mouth for
the rest of his time on this earth.
He felt the cold more than anything. That and the darkness and the worms crawling across his face. There
wasn't exactly the thought of "I've got to get out of here". There was the action, a sudden panic surged within
him and the struggle to move his arms which were pinned by his side. He could only wiggle them at first;
pushing out as hard as he could he felt his elbows grab a little space, and his fingers stretch until he could
curl them just a bit. It was all he needed. Bit by bit he cleared enough room to clear a little more. Now kicking
and punching and scratching the wet clammy dirt, feeling every instant as if he would choke on the grains
that poured into his mouth and into his nose, filling his eyes and his ears until suddenly, air breaking free;
the cold night air with a sprinkle of rain coming down. He was out.
It was almost as dark above ground as it had been below. Foggy drizzle dripped from the trees and he had
no idea where he was. A forest it seemed. He sat on wet grass by the remains of his tomb and spat out the
dirt and wiped futily at the clothes which would never get clean. There was mud in his hair and blood on his
face and his hands. On his side was a hole in his shirt that led to a hole in his stomach. The bleeding had
stopped and the mess was congealed, gooey with puss. He didn't feel pain.
He decided to get up and walk. He didn't care which way he went. He was lost anyway. If there was a path,
he didn't notice. He just walked, through the trees, over rocks, by a stream, over a small wooden bridge.
There were trail signs posted at random, but he didn't bother to read them or follow. It registered vaguely
that he must be in some kind of park. That meant there were people somewhere. That meant he ought to
get out before it got light. None of that made any sense, but it is what he thought. It was instinct.
But he didn't make it out right away. He could sense that the dawn was arriving, so he looked for a cave, or
some bushes in which he could hide. He found an old half burned out tree that would do. He hunkered down
in it, and waited. Day came. Day lasted awhile. He kept his eyes open and noticed some things. He noticed
he never got hungry. He never got thirsty. He never got tired, or bored. He had no desires. No physical
urging. It was all very new and he felt that it was and there was a certain satisfaction, as if patience was
something he'd never achieved until now.
He had leftover instincts as well. He put a thumb to his wrist and could feel a faint pulse. He noticed his
lungs weren't filling with air. He was breathing but not with his mouth or his nose. It seemed his whole body
was breath, that each pore in his skin absorbed air and ejected it too. This soaking in of the atmosphere was
pushing the blood through his veins, and into his brain. He knew what things were. Trees, for example, and
sky. He watched animals go through their motions, birds in their frenzy at daybreak. The squirrels, racing
and chasing. Insects buzzing. Bees humming. The rain stopped and the sky became blue, with some
clouds. He waited and watched for the sun to go down, and followed its direc tion to find out where he was.
When it grew dark again he followed it west.
He journeyed as straight as he could, ever west. To not go in circles was his most basic plan. He thought
that at least he would get somewhere else, out of the woods, and then ... and then, next. He traveled for
hours, occasionally stumbling over rocks and roots but for the most time getting along fine and taking it slow,
and sometime, late at night, he arrived at the edge of the woods. There he stood on a hill, looking down at
the lights of a town he knew well. He even remembered its name, Spring Hill Lake.