Tim woke up in complete darkness, his knees tucked under his chin, laying on his side. Moments earlier, it seemed, he had just fallen asleep on the black leather couch in his TV room. Now he was disorented and unsure of where he was.
Tim knocked on the floor. It was definitely a softwood. Cedar, maybe pine. He tried to sit up, but could only manage to be slightly up with his neck at an extreme angle. He lay down again, and tried to see if he could roll over. With great struggle, he managed to roll onto his back. It was much more comfortable than the fetal position.
Tim knocked on the walls around him. They were made of the same wood, as was the ceiling. Immediately he panicked. His first thought was that he had died, and because no one had tried to administer CPR to him, they went ahead and put him in a coffin and buried him.
Tim kicked and thrashed, but managed only to wear himself out and create a more humid environment inside his makeshift coffin. Taking deep breaths, he felt his way around the box, trying to find something that someone had dropped to help himself get out. As he felt down by his feet, his fingers ran across a cool, metal object.
Tim pulled the object up closer to him, and noticed it was a small flashlight. He switched it on, and squinted his eyes to help himself adjust to the blinding light. Searching the box with the flashlight, he could see that there was nothing else in the box. Sighing, he let his hand rest on the breast pocket of the shirt he was wearing. He felt something rectangular in shape, and upon pulling it out, saw that it was a portable tape player. Curiously, he pushed play.
"Hello, Tim," said a crackely voice. "If you are listening to this, I'm assuming that you have awoken and are probably wondering where you are. If you are calm and patient, I will tell you where you are, and how to get out, at the end of the tape. However, if you try to be smart and fast forward the tape, I guaruntee that you'll miss it, and you will be left to die in this box."
Tim gulped in exhasperation. The air was starting to get thin in the box; not much, but it was certainly noticable.
The voice continued: "You may be noticing that the air is getting thin in your box. That normally happens when you are breathing heavily. Just relax. If you are calm and patient, you will get out of here alive. Weak, sweating, and exhausted, but alive. Just listen to the soothing sounds of my voice, but don't fall asleep. Pinch yourself if you have to, but you don't want to miss anything I say. It may be vital to your survival."
Tim didn't appreciate the taunting of the voice, but he knew that if he skipped to the end of the tape, the voice would taunt him more, saying that he missed the instructions on how to get out, and he would be fumbling with the rewind button to find the instructions. He set the tape player on his chest, making sure that it wouldn't fall off.
"Turn off the flashlight, Tim. You want to save the batteries in that thing. You still don't know where you are, and I don't want you stumbling in the dark, not under the conditions you will be in if you get out."
As Tim switched off the flashlight, he thought about the wording. Did he hear what he thought he heard? Risking precious moments, Tim rewound the tape and listened again: "... --onditions you will be in if you get out."
"If". "If" was a fine word when talking about a sports team making it to the playoffs, or when talking about someone dividing up the winnings in an office lottery pool. "If" was not something to be used when talking about survival.
Lost in his own thoughts, Tim nearly missed instructions on the tape: "The first test will be coming soon. How well can you keep your composure? We'll find out soon enough. Stop the tape here."
Tim stopped the tape and took a deep breath. Immediately after, loud rappings started on the roof of the box. Tim screamed and jerked, caught unaware of what was happening. Soon after loud rappings started on all sides of the box. Inconsistent patterns of rappings confused and disorented him, and the vibrations made his stomach queasy. When the rappings started on the bottomside of the box, he started knocking back, yelling at them to stop.
After a while, Tim noticed that he was the only one knocking and shouting. Sweating and gasping for air, he switched on the tape player.
"You've failed your first test, Tim. I knew you couldn't handle it. I'll bet you even pissed yourself. It'll be a sad sight, if you get out, seeing a grown man stumbling around in the dark with piss-stained pants. Sure I'll get a good laugh out of it, because I'll be the only one who knows what you've been through."
The voice on the tape laughed. Tim wiped sweat off of his brow, replacing the tape recorder on his chest. He tried to control his breathing, but his heart was racing too fast to be in control of anything. He hoped that there would be no more tests like that.
"This next test should be easy for you, Tim. Maybe it was too much of us to expect you to keep your cool under the condition you are now in. I bet it's really stuffy in that box, huh, Tim? You shouldn't have freaked out like that. Now you may never live to find out how to get out, using up all your air like that. Just settle down, and prepare for your next test. Stop the tape, and do not start it again until you're told."
Tim stopped the tape and set the player next to his head. He took deep breaths and tried to relax. His surroundings seemed very quiet. He had always been uncomfortable with quiet. Using a technique he learned from a worst case scenario show, he tapped his foot in a steady rhythm to create something to concentrate on so he didn't become paranoid about the darkness and quietness of the box.
For ten minutes, Tim lay there quietly in the box, tapping his foot to the rhythm of his favorite song, concentrating on repeating the patterns of the different instruments and vocals that occurred. He was just starting to get somewhat comfortable when he heard muffled voices coming from outside of the box. He listened intently to pick up pieces of conversation.
"... sure to get him..." said one voice. "If that doesn't..." said another voice "... cans of vasoline... to come out of there..."
Tim shifted position to try to hear better, but he caught the same amount of conversation as before. He sighed and moved back to where he was. Just as he did, an axe burst through the top of the box where his head used to be. Tim let out a shriek, and quickly moved as the axe burst through a second time. He glanced quickly back and forth between the two holes, and shrieked when the axe burst through the box near his crotch. He whimpered like a hurt puppy. He tried to look through one of the holes to see who weilded the axe, but he saw nothing but darkness.
Suddenly the sihlouette of a man's head appeared in the hole he was looking through. The man spat on Tim's face through the hole and told him to start the tape. Tim wiped his face and pressed the play button.
"I thought you might be thirsty after all this excitement. After all, when was the last time you saw anything like this on the television? I didn't think so. You're almost out, Tim, you just have one final test to endure. But for now, enjoy your fresh air."
Tim gulped down deep breaths of the cold air that was drifting down through the holes in the box. It was getting humid and unbearable in the box, and any amount of fresh air was welcome. He manuvered his arm from his side to the holes in the box and ripped off the loose chunks of wood to let in more air. He noticed that the wood from the box tore easily off, so he awkwardly kicked at the hole by his crotch. After three kicks, he managed to create a hole considerably bigger than the one before.
Using this newfound knowledge, Tim punched and thrashed at the top of the wooden box, breaking and splitting the wooden boards until finally the top of the box split in half and he was able to climb out. The voice on the tape was still talking, but he paid no attention to it. He looked around to get his bearings, but he could barely recognize anything, save for a few trees. He walked twelve paces when he heard the voice on the tape say "... and now for the third test. Keep the tape playing."
As Tim turned toward the box, gunshots rang out. He dove to the ground and covered his head with his hands. The shots sounded like they came from some sort of machine gun, maybe an assault rifle. Whatever it came from, the bullets hit the box in quick succession, like a drummer executing a drumroll. After a complete magazine was wasted, an eerie silence filled the air. After a while, the voice on the tape started again.
"That was the final test. If you managed to escape before being shot, please fast forward the tape to the end. It will automatically flip, and you will hear a welcome message."
Tim, panting heavily, hit the fast forward button. He heard the tape click, hit stop, then hit play. The tape flipped, and he heard a familiar voice on the tape:
"We thought you might need at least one story of excitement to share with your grandkids, Tim! You're in the park on 12th Street. If you go to the streetlight, turn down Sampson and go to the bar. You'll have a beer waiting for you. By the way... happy birthday, Tim."
I swear, I wrote this thing before watching "Saw"!
It could probably use some tweaking, but we'll see how it goes.