“I don’t want to die.” The sob escaped my mouth, cutting through the blackness.
Silence. “Everyone dies.” A rough voice echoed. “It’s the only thing in life that’s guaranteed.”
Stones shift and grind as I adjust my position, offering slight relief from the cold, sharp ground. “There’s still so many things I want to do.” I could feel my voice shake.
“Well, why haven’t you already done them?” The calmness of the other man’s voice sounded almost mocking. “You’ve lived a life, haven’t you?”
The usual excuses bubbled to the forefront of my mind. “I never had the time. I had to work. The car still needed paying off.” I thought. But could only manage a swallow. The thoughts sounding idiotic, even to me, in the cold pitch black.
Time passed, as time does, in its steady relentless way. For how long, I couldn’t say. I drifted in and out of what could only have been sleep. The intermittent sound of dripping water, the only sign that I was still alive.
Still no sign of any rescue.
“I was once like you, you know.” A dry voice, the product of dehydration, sparking me to alertness. “I used to think that there would always be a tomorrow.” The man coughed. “It’s a lie. One that everyone seems to believe. Or maybe just not want to talk about.”.
“What happened?” I managed, prompting for more. Anything to take my mind off the cold that had sunk deep into my bones. But the silence resumed. Maybe he had been talking in his sleep. Maybe he had died.
“I had a family.” The man broke through the dark. “There was four of us.” He paused. “I had met my wife in school. We married and settled not long after. I started working here at the mine, and before long, two kids had come along.” The words seemed to strain him.
I tried to focus on the man’s story, but I could feel my mind slipping away from my numb body. I didn’t even care anymore. I just wanted peace.
“I thought those days would be like that forever.” The man’s voice was a little more than a whisper. It was enough to focus my mind. “A car crash took them. On the way to the lake. All four of them. I had been too busy to go.”. For the first time I recognised pain in the man’s voice.
“I’m sorry.” The clumsy words tumbling from a numb tongue and clenched teeth.
“Everybody dies”. The man’s voice mocked.
I sank into the blackness.
A dazzling white light shone before me. Voices shouting muffed words. I felt my body leave the floor. I blinked my eyes clear and looked around, my head heavy on my shoulders. A face catches my eyes. A still face, as if frozen in time. A curled smile etched into his lips. Before me laid an old man, his hair long since greyed.
“Everybody dies” Echoed in my mind.
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