Maya’s eyes snapped open. Her arms were folded over her
chest. It was dark. Too dark.
She could feel that she was in a dress – the one she was
supposed to wear for prom.
She felt around above her. There was a solid object above.
She felt around on all sides.
A box. Maya was in a box. She kicked around with her feet.
Judging by the shape….
Maya began to breathe hard – how much oxygen did she have
before she suffocated?
She was in a coffin – buried alive.
Max stood with his hands clasped behind his back. He was
dressed in a suit and tie, standing at her grave. The headstone was a dull grey
engraved with silver lettering. God, her
parents must be rich, he thought to himself.
‘Maya Fiasco, Beloved daughter’, the headstone read.
Max opened his pocketknife and pressed the blade to the
stone beneath the lettering, carving into it.
‘And best friend,’
He thought for a moment, pressing the edge of his knife to
his lip till he could taste blood.
‘I will always love you,’ he carved.
Maximus felt a tear prick the corner of his eye. He wiped at
it furiously with the sleeve of his suit.
A shadow fell across the tombstone.
“Step aside, young one,” A voice like downy feathers greeted
Max looked over his shoulder to see a dark figure in a black
cloak standing above him.
Her intense eyes pierced his very soul.
Swallowing nervously, he scrambled out of the way.
The Reaper raised her pale hand towards the freshly
The earth began to shudder, the stray pebbles atop the mound
vibrating like furious insects.
A gleaming ebony outline began to surface, the dreaded shape
of a coffin arising.
Someone was screaming inside, thumps and bangs echoing out.
Max felt a forlorn tear slide down his face.
He hadn’t been able to wipe that one away in time.
The Reaper gently lifted the lid.
Maya was pushing up with her hands and feet, a wild crazed
look on her face.
He saw ragged marks in the wooden underside of the lid where
she had scratched it – her nails were bloody.
When Maya caught sight of the Reaper, she began to shriek
hysterically, grasping the lid with both hands as though to shut it, closing
“No child,” The Reaper lodged the curved blade of her sickle
between the lid and the coffin, opening it.
Maya looked up at her, her eyes wide and frightened.
“Come,” She offered her moon-white hand, a smile playing on
her blood red lips.
Behind her, Max nodded, reassuringly.
This woman was dressed like the grim reaper! He expected her
to go with her?
Tentatively, Maya allowed the Reaper to slide her frail hand
around hers, lifting her from the confines of the tight ebony box.
In a trance, she stepped out of it and staggered on her
black ballet slippers.
“Careful, my dear,” The Reaper murmured, flashing her a
Maya held the woman’s hand as they walked, stealing cautious
glances up at her, like a nervous toddler on her first day out.
The Reaper stroked her brown hair, making comforting noises.
“You must be so confused,” She whispered, her blank white
eyes staring off into the distance.
“Am I dead?”
The Reaper looked down at her. A single crystalline tear
rolled down her ivory cheek.
Maya wrenched her gaze away from the pearlescent eyes of the
being that was leading her.
Confusion flickered through her head as she attempted to
sort out her muddled memories.
The hellhounds – One had bitten her.
She remembered the gleam in its ruby red eyes, the yellowish
liquid dripping down her ankle….
“Poison,” She murmured. Maya Fiasco may be scattered
brained, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t intelligent.
Max was following close behind, his head down. Maya stole a
glance at him. He looked terrible – absolutely exhausted.
The Reaper stopped, grabbed both of her hands and took a
“This is where I leave you, my dear. You are forbidden to
return to the land of the living.”
The tall woman dressed in black let go and exploded into a
cloud of ash tinged with red flame.
Maya stared at her slightly blackened hands, dumbstruck.
Max came up beside her and opened his hand before her, palm
His hand, like hers, was slightly darker than normal.
“A mark. A reminder that she is always watching our every
move,” He explained.
She laid her hand upon his open palm, clasping it tight.
“Why did this happen to us?” Maya asked, looking up into his
bright sapphire eyes.
He shrugged, “Because we don’t want to go,”
Maya gazed out across the lonely graveyard behind them.
Her walk with the Reaper had brought them to the front gate.
He nodded, “She brought us to the Nether World again.”
The buildings just beyond the gates were crumbled and
Gleaming eyes peered out from the darkened windows, watching
This was not her world.