Chapter 4

Written by: Joe Labrum

Hugo could only guess how many hours he laid with his arms across his chest; his feet and elbows crammed against the confines of the lightless space. As his brain cleared and he became aware of dank stale air filling his nostrils, nausea overcame him. Straining to turn his head to one side in his cramped surroundings, Hugo almost vomited. The feeling passed. Moments later, his stomach lurched again as he shook off the effects of the drug. As the sequence of events sorted themselves out in his mind, he began to understand the seriousness of his situation.

He remembered the woman who was his date dragging him from the living room couch, and then through a door into a bedroom.

Was it a bedroom? He racked his brain for answers.  No, the kitchen, he thought.  Vivienne and a man who could have been a bouncer in a bar in the rough part of town lifted him from the floor and put him inside a box. The image of the simple pine coffin in the middle of the floor and hands dragging him toward it sprang into sharp focus in his mind’s eye. He gasped.

His bottom lip began to quiver.

He remembered the time his older brother locked him in the crawl space in the attic when he was six. He started to tremble.

“Spiders…, there’s spiders in here,” he screamed at the coffin. “Let me out! Please let me out of here”

 Panic coursed through him. He slammed his elbows against the sides of the coffin. It was like a straight jacket on him. The more he struggled the more trapped he became. Terrified, he strained to hear any noise that meant he wasn’t buried alive, but there was only silence. Hopeless and exhausted, he lost consciousness.

Time passed and a will to survive replaced panic. Keeping his left elbow tight against his side, he managed to work his left hand from his chest down to his left trouser pocket for his cell phone.



Vivienne got up from the floor and threw the sponge into the mop pail.

“That has to be clean enough, don’t you think, mom?” Vivienne asked, standing back inspecting the cleaning job. “The drug shouldn’t have made him throw up. I told you I gave him too much.”

“You can’t tell, Viv. He might just have a sensitive stomach. It happens,” she explained, as she made one more trip through the apartment spraying air freshener.

The cleaning done, the women collapsed on Vivienne’s plush couch. All of the incriminating evidence from the crime scene was gone, replaced by an excellent Merlot and lavender scented candles. The pride Maria felt for Vivienne was obvious. It gave her confidence in the future of the family business.  

The front door opened.

“Where did you leave the coffin,” Vivienne asked, as her brother walked in.


Joseph Labrum (USA)




Okay, so who wants to get stuck inside a coffin? Well done Joe. Tension, mysterious happenings and spiders. I'm scratching myself already. Where on earth is this serial going to end up. I hope Hugo gets a good signal on his phone or he's going to be feeding the worms. Uuugh!
This is a part of life that looks like it's getting uglier. All of the people that have come out of the wood work are revealing sides we haven't seen before. Lots of creativity is needed to advance this story.
Good, I liked the way this chapter was written. I'm feeling the desperation in the coffin. I'm also there with Viv and her mum as they work away.
Now I'm interested in what happens next.
I really like the story you are telling in this chapter. I also feel you needed to write one more draft. You are telling in places where it would be very simple to change to show. Example: He remembered the time his older brother....." Cut the first part to His older brother once locker him in a crawl space. He was terrified. " Starting sentences with "He remembered" is usually an action killer. Most of the time we can just drop the "He remembered". Good story, and "remember" It is harder by far to revise than to just get the story down on paper.
Thanks everyone, for the feedback. Mrellan, good suggestion re. the flashback. I agree with you and will do it better next time.
Joe--you ALWAYS do better next time. I admire your ability to learn and apply what you learn.