Can it be? A new post at last?
Um, no. But here is a terrific guest post by the talented Alex C. Hughes: The author of the award-winning Mindspace Investigations series from Roc, she's lived in the Atlanta area since the age of eight. She is a graduate of the prestigious Odyssey Writing Workshop, and a Semi-Finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novels 2011. Her short fiction has been published in several markets including EveryDay Fiction, Thunder on the Battlefield and White Cat Magazine. She is an avid cook and foodie, a trivia buff, and a science geek, and loves to talk about neuroscience, the Food Network, and writing craft—but not necessarily at the same time! You can visit her at Twitter at @ahugheswriter or on the web at http://www.ahugheswriter.com. Or, join her email newsletter for free short stories at http://www.ahugheswriter.com/email-signup.
Survival Guide: Being Buried Alive (the Unlikely Edition)
A blog post by Alex Hughes
Recently I was asked by a lovely online friend how to survive being buried alive. I’m not sure why I was the right choice for an expert on this topic (surely there’s a hotline out there somewhere), but after much thought, here’s what I have.
1. The Action Movie solution:
If it’s your job to be buried alive, first assemble a large team of motivated competent people and scatter them throughout the city you’ll be buried in. Ideally, obtain government resources to ensure they find you quickly. I’d recommend a satellite transmitter strong enough to punch through five feet of earth. If possible, obtain a small rebreather kit and/or scuba tank with mask. Bonus points for training by a guru on how to breathe taking up less oxygen.
--Once you are buried, wait. Be patient, and use the time to catch up on your existential thinking. Do not struggle or panic, as this uses up oxygen too quickly. Trust your extremely competent team and the quiet beeping of your tracking device.
--During the rescue: meditate, or chant 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall to yourself. Knock on the coffin occasionally to ensure they’re digging in the right direction. Remain calm.
--Once you are rescued: buy your team presents. Do not object to any bruising caused by shovels. Say thank you early and often. Then, take some time off. Obtain good therapist. Find new job.
2. The Vampire Movie solution:
If you know that the evil vampire nation is planning to bury you alive, plan ahead. Arrange to be bitten by a more powerful good vampire in advance. If you time things carefully, you can go through the Change underground, where you are less likely to hurt anyone. Bring at least two liters of vacuum-packed blood with you in your cargo shorts and a small knife to puncture the seal.
--Once you are buried, don’t worry. Oxygen is no longer an issue for you. Do drink the blood slowly, as your system needs time to adjust to the new nourishment. Rest and relax while your system adjusts to your brand new life.
--Feeling peevish? Your new accommodations are uniquely suited for anger therapy. Feel free to punch and kick the top of your coffin as often as you like. Eventually it will break under your new strength and you will be able to push through to the soil above. Again, oxygen is not an issue for you now, so work at your own pace. You will find the soil surprisingly comfortable as you work your way to the surface.
--Once you surface, shake off the dirt from your clothes and cope with any lingering claustrophobia issues. Dispatch any members of the evil vampire nation waiting for you. Then, finish the last of your stored blood and go looking for a shower. Your good vampire master will want you clean as you arrive at his home for backup.
3. The Houdini solution:
If you must appear to be buried alive, for example to fake your death and leave the mob, or to get rid of a stalker, consider whether you’ll actually need to be buried. Can a lifelike replica do the job? If so, spare no expense. Hire the work out to out of towners, ideally artists in China or prop masters out of Hollywood, as both are far away and unlikely to ask questions. Let the bad guys see you knocked out, then have them see the replica in the coffin being buried. For your average evil villain, this should serve your purpose nicely. Buy yourself a nice funeral; you’re worth it, and you’ll want to be comfortable as you watch your friends and family say nice things about you.
If a replica simply will not do the trick, plan the situation out in advance. Buy large-gauge pipe graded for underground use, and install tunnels beneath the area your coffin will be buried. Hide your exit carefully in a nearby copse of trees or behind a landscaping shed. Install a door at the bottom of the coffin that you can trigger from the inside, and connect it to the underground pipe carefully. Do several dry runs, where you test the system under every possible condition.
--Once you are buried, take a few deep breaths, center yourself, and escape through your carefully crafted and well-rehearsed routine. When you complete the routine, stifle the urge to bow; the audience, if you have done your job, will still be looking at the burial plot. Retrieve your getaway bag and leave town.
4. The New Yorker solution:
Carry a taser, a knife, and two vials of pepper spray rated for bear. When the bad guys come at you to try to bury you alive, scream like a banshee and tase anything that moves. If the taser runs out of juice or needs recharge time, proceed to the backup pepper spray. If the pepper spray annoys you, proceed to the knife.
Once your enemies are incapacitated, say “Thanks for the burial offer, but no thanks, I’m good,” and proceed to the nearest police station to ask as many annoying citizen questions on a current topic as humanly possible. Bonus points if you are annoying enough to get thrown in the drunk tank overnight; your assailants are unlikely to storm the police station to get you, and may give up on the premise that you’re Rambo or working with the cops. Remember to discard the taser before entering the station!
5. The Adam solution:
Do as much as possible to talk the bad guys out of their plan prior to reaching the cemetery. If this fails, proceed to Plan B. Discard Guild ethics and disable all thugs immediately by putting their brains into sleep mode. Then, implant an uncontrollable terror of messing with Adam again into the mind of the leader. Watch him run away, but try not to smirk.
Or, just to mess with them, convince their brains that they’ve already put you in the coffin. Plant a do-not-notice suggestion in their minds, and stand back while they bury an empty coffin. Read their next plans from their speech and thoughts, then walk away quietly. When the police show up in the middle of their next Big Awesome Crime Thing, make sure they see your face. At this point, smirking is perfectly acceptable.