Six Feet Above | COMING SOON

[ C O M I N G S O O N ] Winona never planned on having a stranger break her out of a box. She never thought she'd lose three months of her life. And she definitely didn't expect to be told she was dead.

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2. 01 | The Living

 

SIX FEET ABOVE | 01

THE LIVING

 

 

MY LUNGS BURN AS I SLAM my hands against the wood. I feel like giving up but there's something in me telling me not to. It's so dark that I can't tell where I am. I've been screaming for hours – but my throat feels like razor blades have been cutting into me. Coughing, I keep banging. Hitting the edges of whatever box I'm in. The sides don't move an inch though.

Hopelessly, I let out another shriek. It burns my throat, making tears fall.

But something's happening outside of this darkness.

My entire body freezes, mind working overdrive. Okay. I know I'm trapped. I can't remember how I ended up... wherever I am. It's going to be a prank! It has to be? No-one I know dislikes me. Unless you count Ashlynn. But then again, she pretty much dislikes everyone but her family.

When the movement stops, my hands automatically start banging. Frantic noises fill the darkness. My legs fly out, smacking everything. Distantly in my mind, I know there's pain but it's dulled. Screams wretch themselves out of throat. I'm sure if my throat were a wound, it'd be bleeding messily. But I'm desperate.

Light streams in and I can just about make out what I'm trapped in.

A freaking wooden box.

Crumbs of dirt trickle through. Shadows keep flickering, tainting my vision. I can hear grunting and swearing. It's someone male – but it isn't Devlin. It could be one of his friends. They always play tricks like this on each other. I mean, I've never been involved but still. Maybe they were finally involving me?

The sound of wood cracking makes me stop. My hands turn into tight balls and I hold them against my chest. If I could, I'd bring my knees up but there isn't that much space. Within seconds, the barricade in front of my face disappears. Too bright a light floods my eyes and I snap them shut. Gently, I open them blinking quickly. My blood runs cold at the man standing above me.

He's a complete stranger.

A scream gets stuck in my throat. What comes out is a small squeak. Instead of laughing, or even trying to intimidate me, he sighs. Rolling his eyes, his hands slip under my back. I'm flying through the air until I land hard on my stomach. Pain fills me and I resist the urge to spill whatever is in my stomach.

"If you even think about puking on me," his voice is extremely low. It's almost... guttural, "I won't hesitate to string you up, and rip out your intestines." The imagery almost makes me gag but I just about hold it in. "Close your eyes." I do as I'm told. I have no idea who the guy is, how he found me or what he's capable of. I'll play along and then I can run to the safety of my home. And call the police.

The world around me shifts and before I know it, I'm falling. Until I land. Hard.

And hot bile spews out of me.

"Really?" I hear the man curse again. I'm still surprised by how low his voice is! "Fucking shitty Jael. Take care of her. Be nice. Well you know what? Fuck you. Fuck this shit. This is real fuckin' Italian!"

"S-s-s-s..." I take in a ragged breath, my throat on fire. It hurts to even breathe. "Sorry." It's barely a whisper, just a breath. The vomit that flew out of my mouth... I have no idea where it landed. I don't care. My stomach feels like it's imploding on itself, churning into a ball of acid. Oh, God. Why does it hurt so much? Maybe I drank too much beer? That had to be it!

"On your feet." I didn't even have a chance to even attempt to move my body. Hoisted up into the air, I look around and try and swallow the rising bile. As the stranger plants me upright, I sway. His fingers dig into my bare shoulders (I don't know how I'm not feeling the November chill) and a small whimper escapes my throat. "Fuckin' 'ell. So now I'm not just your babysitter, I'm a fuckin' crutch too? I didn't sign up for this shit."

Warbled sounds come from my throat. I feel him push me forward and I take baby steps. My ankles and heels feel sore; there's a blister coming on. I'm sure of it. Looking down, I notice my skirt is dirty. I resist the urge to spit on my fingers and scrub at the marks. Instead, I push it (as much as I can) to the back of my mind. I have to focus on walking forward. To get away from the stranger who rescued me. There's something about him that just makes my skin crawl.

Something clicks behind me. As much as my body is screaming at me to look, I don't. I know I'll lose balance and I just want to be at home. In my bed. With all my pillows surrounding me. The thought almost makes me sigh. I hold it in though.

The man behind me starts cursing but I ignore him. If I want my legs to keep going, I have to. Especially mixed in with the pain that is burning my throat. Ever since I started screaming, it's gotten worse. I didn't drink that much last night, did I?

After a long period of silence, the man suddenly swears loudly.

"Oh, fuck."

A yelp leaves my lips. My foot suddenly slips and I tumble to the ground. I know that I've hit the ground, and I should be feeling a stinging sensation. But there's nothing. A slightly dull tingling in the bottom of my palms but that's it. Frowning, I rush to push myself off the ground. I fall twice, but I end up on both feet without help from the stranger.

He grabs my arm – not so delicately – and twirls me around. I almost lose my footing again. Fear grasps me tightly; eyes that are black and bottomless stare at me. It's almost like I get lost in them. Key word being almost.

"Drink." He hands me a small vial, containing some yellow liquid. Immediately, I think the worst.

"No." My voice is hoarse and broken. I shake my head too hard – the forest starts spinning. It's basic common sense to refuse anything from a stranger. Especially one who somehow found me in the middle of no-where, and is following me.

"Drink." As I'm about to protest, his eyes narrow. "If I have to make you drink, you won't like it."

My eyes widen and I hastily swipe the vial. A small, soft sigh leaves my lips and I try to imagine that whatever the vial contains is nice. And safe. Popping off the cork, I tip my head back and down the liquid as if it's a shot. For the first couple of minutes, I cough. The aftertaste isn't bad – it's sweet, almost like honey. It's just stronger than I imagine. Reminds me of the first time I ever did a shot of tequila – I didn't even get to the lemon part.

"Jael would have had my fucking head on a spike making me eat my own insides if I'd forgotten to give you that."

"J-Jael?" My throat doesn't hurt like before. It's almost like it's been numbed. My voice is still slightly hoarse and broken, but there's some improvement already. Although I don't mean to say the name – it's just the first word that finds itself on my tongue. The man in front of me doesn't seem to care though.

"If it wasn't for that rat-faced bastard, you'd still been six feet under the ground. You'd probably be stuck there." He shrugs. I can feel the blood drain from my face. "I doubt someone like you would have been able to dig yourself out."

I ignore the blatant insult. I'm more focused on the fact I was underground. Under the mud and earth. There was no way it'd be a prank... or maybe it was. Maybe the guys were going to come back for me? They had to – Devlin would have made them!

"Shit." I hear his voice again before his face suddenly comes into my vision. There's nothing else I can see. Just his extraordinarily pale face, obsidian eyes... a pink scar crossing from the edge of his lip up to his eye. He wasn't helping. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I know that my heart should feel as if it's about to explode out of my rib-cage. But there's nothing banging in my chest. "Okay, girly, look at me. Look into these beautiful eyes."

As much as I don't want to, I still look into his eyes. They're hypnotising, and I can't pull myself away from them. I'm falling deeper and deeper...

"Stop that!" My shoulders are shaking roughly. The man's face is angry again. Fear from before starts to settle again – but this time it's because of the man in front of me. He turns away from me. Little bits of relief replace the fear. "Son of a bitch, why did Jael send me?" I hear him sigh before his eyes meet mine again. This time I don't drown in them. "Okay. Right. Call me Eli, okay?"

"Eli?" He nods. He's not so angry now; everything about his face seems softer.

It doesn't relax me, at all.

"This is part where you tell me your name." I was wrong – there's an uneven tone to his voice. He's trying to keep calm. It's not working so well. I'm still so unsettled – there's so much I want to ask. But I know I can't. Not if I want to get out of here alive and with my sanity.

"W-W-Winona." My name stumbles out of me. He leans back, out of my face. If I could feel my heart, it would probably still be hammering away. The only person – the only male – who has ever been in close contact with me like that was Devlin. Gosh, I miss him. It's a shame he wasn't there to get me out. Instead I had... Eli.

"W-W-Winona?" He mocks me. It's a terrible mock though. Even Amelia could do it better – and she's terrible at impersonations. "Man, you lot are wusses." I don't respond; how can I? "And you're definitely one of the quieter ones. Which means you're kinkier in the sheets."

My jaw drops, and before I can respond he's skipping off.

"Come on then, little Nona!" A deep laugh rumbles about me, and his voice echoes through the trees. I have no choice but to follow him like a lamb to slaughter.

 

▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

 

It's been hours since Eli rescued me. We haven't spoken at all. I've trailed behind, looking at my surroundings. Still, I don't recognise them now. They're definitely familiar though, and I'm sure I've been on this track before. It must have been a couple of hours since we found the path. I haven't seen anyone walk past. It doesn't feel right.

Without realising it, I walk straight into Eli. His body feels like a brick wall. My hands rub my cheeks. I don't say 'sorry' though – I had fallen a couple of times on the walk and every time I had said it, Eli had sneered. Almost like it was his most despised word.

"Wear this." He shimmies out of his jacket and hands it to me. I hold it with both hands, after almost dropping it. He glares. I still don't put it on. "Nona," the way he says my name sends a chill down my spine, "put my fucking jacket on. Now."

Hastily, I slip it round my shoulders. While Eli himself is cold, his jacket is so warm. Just like my bed often is; a comfortable warm. The cologne coming from the jacket is extraordinarily nice. Maybe even nicer than Devlin's. I have to fight the urge to sniff it. It's not appropriate considering that I have a boyfriend who I love with everything I have.

"Why?" I dare to ask. Eli raises a dark eyebrow at me.

"Why?" The word comes out harsh and fast. Just when I expect him to start cursing again, he surprises me. "Considering you're wearing a tiny sailor dress and covered in crap – and let's not ignore the fact it's freezing – I don't think I need to answer your dumb question."

A frown makes its way onto my face. I haven't felt the cold. In fact... I can't even feel if it's hot or cold. I haven't really had a chance to think about it though. My thoughts aren't voiced. In the little time I've spent with Eli, I know better than to say anything out loud. I'd rather him mock me for my actions than for what I say.

"Thank you." Is all I say, before wrapping the over-sized jacket around me. The hem of my navy dress sticks out from the bottom, but it doesn't look too bad. God knows what my hair and make-up looks like. Unfortunately, Eli's jacket doesn't have a hood on to hide my face. I hold in the sigh that wants to escape.

He pulls a face, "Just get in the car, would you?"

Hearing several beeps, I look over to the only car among the gravel. A large, black jeep with tinted windows. My legs refuse to walk over, my parents' warning repeating itself in my head like a mantra.

Don't talk to strangers. Don't take anything from strangers. And Winnie, definitely don't get in a stranger's car.

I've already broken two of their rules. Of course, over the years, I've talked to strangers. But never have I gotten into a vehicle. Never thought I would. Everything about this situation is screaming at me to run far, far away. Except, I have no idea where I am. There's no signpost to tell me which forest we've just come out of. And for the life of me, I can't pinpoint the name in my mind. My teeth nibble on the edge of my lip. Eli's already stalking off towards the car.

I could walk home – but I don't know how long it'll take me. I have nothing to my name either; no phone, no money... not even any ID! The thought of getting in a car, especially while I'm filthy, is appealing to me more and more by the second. Looking up at the greying sky, I know it's most likely to start raining soon. Do I really want to be caught in a sudden downpour while lost?

Letting out an irritated huff, I start making my way to the car. Right now, it seems like the most sensible option I can pick. Eli hasn't tried to do anything either. I mean, he could have left me in that... box (or whatever I was trapped in). We're in the middle of no-where so he could have done anything without worrying about someone hearing. But he didn't.

As I open the door and sit down, I can't help the storm making its way through my stomach.

SIX FEET ABOVE | 01

THE LIVING

 

 

MY LUNGS BURN AS I SLAM my hands against the wood. I feel like giving up but there's something in me telling me not to. It's so dark that I can't tell where I am. I've been screaming for hours – but my throat feels like razor blades have been cutting into me. Coughing, I keep banging. Hitting the edges of whatever box I'm in. The sides don't move an inch though.

Hopelessly, I let out another shriek. It burns my throat, making tears fall.

But something's happening outside of this darkness.

My entire body freezes, mind working overdrive. Okay. I know I'm trapped. I can't remember how I ended up... wherever I am. It's going to be a prank! It has to be? No-one I know dislikes me. Unless you count Ashlynn. But then again, she pretty much dislikes everyone but her family.

When the movement stops, my hands automatically start banging. Frantic noises fill the darkness. My legs fly out, smacking everything. Distantly in my mind, I know there's pain but it's dulled. Screams wretch themselves out of throat. I'm sure if my throat were a wound, it'd be bleeding messily. But I'm desperate.

Light streams in and I can just about make out what I'm trapped in.

A freaking wooden box.

Crumbs of dirt trickle through. Shadows keep flickering, tainting my vision. I can hear grunting and swearing. It's someone male – but it isn't Devlin. It could be one of his friends. They always play tricks like this on each other. I mean, I've never been involved but still. Maybe they were finally involving me?

The sound of wood cracking makes me stop. My hands turn into tight balls and I hold them against my chest. If I could, I'd bring my knees up but there isn't that much space. Within seconds, the barricade in front of my face disappears. Too bright a light floods my eyes and I snap them shut. Gently, I open them blinking quickly. My blood runs cold at the man standing above me.

He's a complete stranger.

A scream gets stuck in my throat. What comes out is a small squeak. Instead of laughing, or even trying to intimidate me, he sighs. Rolling his eyes, his hands slip under my back. I'm flying through the air until I land hard on my stomach. Pain fills me and I resist the urge to spill whatever is in my stomach.

"If you even think about puking on me," his voice is extremely low. It's almost... guttural, "I won't hesitate to string you up, and rip out your intestines." The imagery almost makes me gag but I just about hold it in. "Close your eyes." I do as I'm told. I have no idea who the guy is, how he found me or what he's capable of. I'll play along and then I can run to the safety of my home. And call the police.

The world around me shifts and before I know it, I'm falling. Until I land. Hard.

And hot bile spews out of me.

"Really?" I hear the man curse again. I'm still surprised by how low his voice is! "Fucking shitty Jael. Take care of her. Be nice. Well you know what? Fuck you. Fuck this shit. This is real fuckin' Italian!"

"S-s-s-s..." I take in a ragged breath, my throat on fire. It hurts to even breathe. "Sorry." It's barely a whisper, just a breath. The vomit that flew out of my mouth... I have no idea where it landed. I don't care. My stomach feels like it's imploding on itself, churning into a ball of acid. Oh, God. Why does it hurt so much? Maybe I drank too much beer? That had to be it!

"On your feet." I didn't even have a chance to even attempt to move my body. Hoisted up into the air, I look around and try and swallow the rising bile. As the stranger plants me upright, I sway. His fingers dig into my bare shoulders (I don't know how I'm not feeling the November chill) and a small whimper escapes my throat. "Fuckin' 'ell. So now I'm not just your babysitter, I'm a fuckin' crutch too? I didn't sign up for this shit."

Warbled sounds come from my throat. I feel him push me forward and I take baby steps. My ankles and heels feel sore; there's a blister coming on. I'm sure of it. Looking down, I notice my skirt is dirty. I resist the urge to spit on my fingers and scrub at the marks. Instead, I push it (as much as I can) to the back of my mind. I have to focus on walking forward. To get away from the stranger who rescued me. There's something about him that just makes my skin crawl.

Something clicks behind me. As much as my body is screaming at me to look, I don't. I know I'll lose balance and I just want to be at home. In my bed. With all my pillows surrounding me. The thought almost makes me sigh. I hold it in though.

The man behind me starts cursing but I ignore him. If I want my legs to keep going, I have to. Especially mixed in with the pain that is burning my throat. Ever since I started screaming, it's gotten worse. I didn't drink that much last night, did I?

After a long period of silence, the man suddenly swears loudly.

"Oh, fuck."

A yelp leaves my lips. My foot suddenly slips and I tumble to the ground. I know that I've hit the ground, and I should be feeling a stinging sensation. But there's nothing. A slightly dull tingling in the bottom of my palms but that's it. Frowning, I rush to push myself off the ground. I fall twice, but I end up on both feet without help from the stranger.

He grabs my arm – not so delicately – and twirls me around. I almost lose my footing again. Fear grasps me tightly; eyes that are black and bottomless stare at me. It's almost like I get lost in them. Key word being almost.

"Drink." He hands me a small vial, containing some yellow liquid. Immediately, I think the worst.

"No." My voice is hoarse and broken. I shake my head too hard – the forest starts spinning. It's basic common sense to refuse anything from a stranger. Especially one who somehow found me in the middle of no-where, and is following me.

"Drink." As I'm about to protest, his eyes narrow. "If I have to make you drink, you won't like it."

My eyes widen and I hastily swipe the vial. A small, soft sigh leaves my lips and I try to imagine that whatever the vial contains is nice. And safe. Popping off the cork, I tip my head back and down the liquid as if it's a shot. For the first couple of minutes, I cough. The aftertaste isn't bad – it's sweet, almost like honey. It's just stronger than I imagine. Reminds me of the first time I ever did a shot of tequila – I didn't even get to the lemon part.

"Jael would have had my fucking head on a spike making me eat my own insides if I'd forgotten to give you that."

"J-Jael?" My throat doesn't hurt like before. It's almost like it's been numbed. My voice is still slightly hoarse and broken, but there's some improvement already. Although I don't mean to say the name – it's just the first word that finds itself on my tongue. The man in front of me doesn't seem to care though.

"If it wasn't for that rat-faced bastard, you'd still been six feet under the ground. You'd probably be stuck there." He shrugs. I can feel the blood drain from my face. "I doubt someone like you would have been able to dig yourself out."

I ignore the blatant insult. I'm more focused on the fact I was underground. Under the mud and earth. There was no way it'd be a prank... or maybe it was. Maybe the guys were going to come back for me? They had to – Devlin would have made them!

"Shit." I hear his voice again before his face suddenly comes into my vision. There's nothing else I can see. Just his extraordinarily pale face, obsidian eyes... a pink scar crossing from the edge of his lip up to his eye. He wasn't helping. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I know that my heart should feel as if it's about to explode out of my rib-cage. But there's nothing banging in my chest. "Okay, girly, look at me. Look into these beautiful eyes."

As much as I don't want to, I still look into his eyes. They're hypnotising, and I can't pull myself away from them. I'm falling deeper and deeper...

"Stop that!" My shoulders are shaking roughly. The man's face is angry again. Fear from before starts to settle again – but this time it's because of the man in front of me. He turns away from me. Little bits of relief replace the fear. "Son of a bitch, why did Jael send me?" I hear him sigh before his eyes meet mine again. This time I don't drown in them. "Okay. Right. Call me Eli, okay?"

"Eli?" He nods. He's not so angry now; everything about his face seems softer.

It doesn't relax me, at all.

"This is part where you tell me your name." I was wrong – there's an uneven tone to his voice. He's trying to keep calm. It's not working so well. I'm still so unsettled – there's so much I want to ask. But I know I can't. Not if I want to get out of here alive and with my sanity.

"W-W-Winona." My name stumbles out of me. He leans back, out of my face. If I could feel my heart, it would probably still be hammering away. The only person – the only male – who has ever been in close contact with me like that was Devlin. Gosh, I miss him. It's a shame he wasn't there to get me out. Instead I had... Eli.

"W-W-Winona?" He mocks me. It's a terrible mock though. Even Amelia could do it better – and she's terrible at impersonations. "Man, you lot are wusses." I don't respond; how can I? "And you're definitely one of the quieter ones. Which means you're kinkier in the sheets."

My jaw drops, and before I can respond he's skipping off.

"Come on then, little Nona!" A deep laugh rumbles about me, and his voice echoes through the trees. I have no choice but to follow him like a lamb to slaughter.

 

▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

 

It's been hours since Eli rescued me. We haven't spoken at all. I've trailed behind, looking at my surroundings. Still, I don't recognise them now. They're definitely familiar though, and I'm sure I've been on this track before. It must have been a couple of hours since we found the path. I haven't seen anyone walk past. It doesn't feel right.

Without realising it, I walk straight into Eli. His body feels like a brick wall. My hands rub my cheeks. I don't say 'sorry' though – I had fallen a couple of times on the walk and every time I had said it, Eli had sneered. Almost like it was his most despised word.

"Wear this." He shimmies out of his jacket and hands it to me. I hold it with both hands, after almost dropping it. He glares. I still don't put it on. "Nona," the way he says my name sends a chill down my spine, "put my fucking jacket on. Now."

Hastily, I slip it round my shoulders. While Eli himself is cold, his jacket is so warm. Just like my bed often is; a comfortable warm. The cologne coming from the jacket is extraordinarily nice. Maybe even nicer than Devlin's. I have to fight the urge to sniff it. It's not appropriate considering that I have a boyfriend who I love with everything I have.

"Why?" I dare to ask. Eli raises a dark eyebrow at me.

"Why?" The word comes out harsh and fast. Just when I expect him to start cursing again, he surprises me. "Considering you're wearing a tiny sailor dress and covered in crap – and let's not ignore the fact it's freezing – I don't think I need to answer your dumb question."

A frown makes its way onto my face. I haven't felt the cold. In fact... I can't even feel if it's hot or cold. I haven't really had a chance to think about it though. My thoughts aren't voiced. In the little time I've spent with Eli, I know better than to say anything out loud. I'd rather him mock me for my actions than for what I say.

"Thank you." Is all I say, before wrapping the over-sized jacket around me. The hem of my navy dress sticks out from the bottom, but it doesn't look too bad. God knows what my hair and make-up looks like. Unfortunately, Eli's jacket doesn't have a hood on to hide my face. I hold in the sigh that wants to escape.

He pulls a face, "Just get in the car, would you?"

Hearing several beeps, I look over to the only car among the gravel. A large, black jeep with tinted windows. My legs refuse to walk over, my parents' warning repeating itself in my head like a mantra.

Don't talk to strangers. Don't take anything from strangers. And Winnie, definitely don't get in a stranger's car.

I've already broken two of their rules. Of course, over the years, I've talked to strangers. But never have I gotten into a vehicle. Never thought I would. Everything about this situation is screaming at me to run far, far away. Except, I have no idea where I am. There's no signpost to tell me which forest we've just come out of. And for the life of me, I can't pinpoint the name in my mind. My teeth nibble on the edge of my lip. Eli's already stalking off towards the car.

I could walk home – but I don't know how long it'll take me. I have nothing to my name either; no phone, no money... not even any ID! The thought of getting in a car, especially while I'm filthy, is appealing to me more and more by the second. Looking up at the greying sky, I know it's most likely to start raining soon. Do I really want to be caught in a sudden downpour while lost?

Letting out an irritated huff, I start making my way to the car. Right now, it seems like the most sensible option I can pick. Eli hasn't tried to do anything either. I mean, he could have left me in that... box (or whatever I was trapped in). We're in the middle of no-where so he could have done anything without worrying about someone hearing. But he didn't.

As I open the door and sit down, I can't help the storm making its way through my stomach

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

i wanted to get this up + running. i won't be updating this again until the last chapter of SK (which should be in the next couple of weeks) but this is just to give people a hint of what's to come. votes + comments would be much appreciated!

 
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