The Stox Box
“This is quite a change from what you’re used to. You sure you’re ready for it?” My friend voiced a legitimate concern, but I wasn’t worried. True, it was outside what might be considered my comfort zone but in concept it wasn’t all that far afield from my usual bondage pursuits. Sometimes one has to expand horizons to fully appreciate the myriad of experiences one might otherwise miss out on due to excessive caution and, well, fear, though I never thought of myself as the type to cower in terror under my bed when confronted with something new and different.
Once more I looked over the box sitting on the cart. It was certainly heavy, which is why it was on wheels instead of the floor. The bottom and sides were assembled from two layers of thick wooden planks, glued together and then fastened with wood screws for a solid, durable look. It was built to take abuse in handling, or from the occupant, but for my purposes I wanted it to be visually intimidating for anyone who knew its true purpose.
The light stain finish brought out the grain of the pine, giving it the look of fine furniture to the casual observer. Closer scrutiny though would raise some questions about the interior. The outside fixtures were stainless steel, oversized for a typical storage chest but well-suited for a heavy shipping crate. It was large enough to accommodate one adult, providing they didn’t play center for a basketball team. The interior was a perfect fit for me.
This had been quite the project. It combined aspects of two bondage concepts: being packaged, inside a wooden crate in this case; and my new fantasies about being trapped in wooden stocks. Up to now my preferences had been for “heavy metal”, locked in steel restraints and confined in a cage or jail cell. It had been one of those extended sessions, chained to a wall and barely able to move, that I came up with the idea for the box. Instead of cold steel I wanted to try simple wooden restraints of the old-fashioned sort.
The container would act as a type of pillory, holding me in a fixed pose; in this case flat on my back rather than the traditional standing position. Panels with cutouts matching my contours would slide into place in tracks cut into the sides. Screws on the top would hold the panels in place. They were simple but very effective stocks: immobilizing ankles, wrists, waist and neck. Once inside it would be impossible to escape, always a primary requirement for that satisfying bondage experience.
I reached in and pushed down on the foam padding. The box was designed for the occupant’s long term comfort, with layers of padding covered in vinyl, for waterproofing in case of accidents, and over that a layer of cotton sheet. I could see the slits cut into the top, for breathing and an occasional sip of water, plus another in the base for the catheter to drain liquid waste. That tube ran to a holding tank underneath. With some careful preparation beforehand I could avoid the problem of solid waste, at least for the length of the session. I’d invested quite a bit of time and money in this project; if there was some scenario I missed I couldn’t imagine what it would be. In any case I had my friend on the outside, checking up on me in case something unexpected caused a problem.
The lid was suspended over the box on a hoist. Like the main box it was massive, especially with the extras built in to make my stay a bit more interesting. There was a small, phone sized LCD screen mounted at about where my head would be. My friend had a wireless camera so I could see what was happening outside my little prison. There was a low power radio for short range communications, and a battery pack from an e-bike that should keep the electronics going for quite a while. It was a completely self-contained environment; no outside maintenance required and portable if necessary. Inside I’d be entirely on my own without the need for any external intervention, up until the session finished. I had spent months working on making it escape proof, relying on my rather extensive personal knowledge of restraints along with research on prisoner security. No one on the inside would be leaving without help from outside.
“Okay, if you’re determined to go ahead with this then let’s get you secured inside.” My friend often served as both assistant at the start, and the means for my release at the end. Never a participant, but I often suspected there was a latent streak of either the dominant or the sadist providing the motivation to be so helpful. Regardless of the incentive I was always grateful for some support, without which my private bondage sessions would be severely limited in scope.
And I had to admit, limited in duration too. I don’t have the willpower to see a long session through knowing I can release myself at any time. Just the thought that “I can end this now” spoils all the fun. With my friend in control the element of choice is removed. I find that exciting, and maybe a little bit scary.
I stripped down to what I was born with and nothing more. Naked was de rigueur for the type of bondage I sought out. It brought out that sense of being at a disadvantage, one of the mental aspects that fed my craving. I eased over the side of the box and sat down, upright but with my legs stretched out to the far end. The catheter came first, with the drain hose leading down to the tank in the bottom. Plumbing in place my friend began with the panel sized for my ankles, sliding it down the grooves until it was flush with the top. It was a close fit, no way to slip out, with only a small amount of slack, just enough to shift around but not enough that I could kick the side of the box to make noise.
The next panel was spaced to be about halfway between knees and ankles. This was a simple oval cutout, enough to prevent raising my legs but with some space to either side. That’s what I wanted, a little wiggle room combined with a firm reminder of “this far and no further.” The third panel came down right above my knees, forcing them flat against the bottom and close together. This was an improvement over a traditional pillory; even my legs were clamped in place. That was my style of bondage: take away almost all my freedom of movement. Whatever was left served only to remind me of what I’d lost.
“Let’s get the screws in these before we continue,” my friend advised. Since these were to be reusable each panel had a place at the top where a protruding ear could be screwed into a threaded receptacle set into the box. I propped myself up so I could watch while each of the countersunk machine screws was tightened with a hex wrench. Like handcuffs I would still need a key to be released from the stocks. Even the wrench would be useless with the lid on, since the screws would be covered. Lots of over engineered security, not necessary but I liked the way it added to an overall perception of the futility in even attempting to defeat my little prison.
At my waist I had to stop helping and rely solely on my friend. Before going any further I held out my hands for one of my favorite mobility reducers. I’d found them in a police equipment catalog, always a great source for serious restraints. The nylon cylinders slid easily over my hands. They were a type of bondage mitt used on dangerous prisoners to remove the risks possible from hands grabbing at some kind of makeshift weapon. My friend pulled tight on the wrist straps, to ensure they would not slip off.
I held up my hands and did my best to flex my fingers. The thick padding inside the mitt and the stiff cover turned my hands into useless stumps. “Perfect,” I said, “might as well have my hands cut off with these things on.” Combined with handcuffs, especially behind my back, the tubes had deprived me of any chance to free myself, even with a key at hand. In the box they would be overkill but I didn’t care. It was that mental thing again, adding to the overall oppressive, helpless attitude.
The panel dropped into place; the small cutouts enclosing my wrists and a larger oval across my waist held my body down. This is where I cheated: unlike a traditional pillory with hands on either side of the neck I opted for comfort, arms at my side, which also helped to keep down the width of the box. The mitts on my wrists extended into the openings, making for a snug fit but not enough to affect circulation.
“I want to get these screwed down right away, before you decide to call this off.” While my friend worked the hex wrench I tried to pull my hands through the panel. Just like regular stocks my hands were too large. It’s funny how that works out, almost as if it was deliberate.
That was the point where I was at the mercy of my captor. As with my legs another panel went across my chest just below my elbows, with a loose fit. I could breathe easily, but I couldn’t rise up. The full impact of what I was doing started to affect me. Was I being incredibly irresponsible or only adventurous? I certainly didn’t want to become another Darwin Award nominee for stupid misadventures.
“Okay, you ready for the final piece of the puzzle?” My friend was holding the last panel, with a precisely shaped cut out in the bottom. I knew its purpose, and from careful testing it should be an exact fit.
“No point in stopping now,” I said with more assurance than I felt. “Slide it in, but take it slow so we don’t pinch any skin. I’ll yell if I start to choke.”
The board fit smoothly into the grooves and slowly descended until it rested on the stops where the grooves ended. It neatly divided the box into two compartments: one for my head, another for the rest of my body. Aside from being the last and most important panel for the stocks it formed my own little isolation chamber. I felt as if I were disconnected from my body, a head floating in limbo. I looked forward to exploring where it might lead in the hours to come.
With all the panel screws in place I was now an integral part of the box. Wherever it went I was sure to go. For some reason that bit from an old nursery rhyme kept running through my head. I tried to move around, testing my limits. It didn’t take long to determine I was going to be in this thing for a while. “Other than the fact I can’t move, everything's okay so far,” I reported. I could still lift my head a bit, but all I could see were the sides of the box and the lid hanging over me.
“We’ll need some filler too, so hold still.” That was my friend, stuffing in foam rubber blocks we had cut to fit around my head and under my chin. With those in place I wasn’t able to lift or turn my head. From now on I had only one view, straight up. For a moment I questioned my insistence on as little movement as possible. The packing around my head might be a little too much. Not that I could do anything about it now, though I made a mental note I might have to ease off next time, depending on how this session went.
“We’re getting near the end. If you have any last minute regrets better speak up now.” My friend leaned over the side of the box, studying my face. Must be looking for signs of panic, I thought. “Otherwise the top comes down next. That’s the point of no return. When the lights go out you’re in there until, well, let’s say for a while.”
My friend was being deliberately ambiguous about the session length. It had to be up to someone else to set the time when the session ended. I was not going to be told that time in advance. Considering my present state, my opinion on when to stop wasn’t particularly relevant any longer. That was the other reason I needed assistance. Knowing a bondage session would end in an hour, or two hours, or fifteen minutes, it took the edge off the experience. I didn’t want to know how long my ordeal would last. That was a part of the fantasy, the prisoner at the mercy of cruel jailers, doomed to endless torment. I’d done it before, once chained to a wall in a dungeon cell, and a second time handcuffed to a pole with my hands behind my back. Both times, what I expected to last an hour, maybe two at most lasted for a full day. Those were some of the most memorable experiences I’d ever had. Although the physical side had been strenuous the real drama had all been inside my head when the time stretched into lonely hours without any prospect of release.
After all the anticipation built up while the box was being constructed I was determined this would also be one of those once in a lifetime events. There I was, nicely packaged in a sturdy shipping crate with no way out. My friend took a few pictures of me stretched out in full panoramic view, tightly secured for whatever was to come. My first, fleeting impression seeing myself in that crate was how similar it was to a body in a coffin.
“That’s it, time to close it up,” my friend warned before starting to crank the hoist. I watched the heavy lid slowly descend. There was a short delay to shift it around so the screws lined up with threaded holes in the crate. A couple more turns of the winch and I was plunged into darkness. No light seeped in through gaps. We had lined the edges with a gasket to make sure the seal was tight. I could feel faint vibrations through the wood where the steel bolts were being tightened down. For better or worse I was past the point of no return now.
The critical first impression: it was dark, as in no light whatsoever. The nearest comparison I could think of is being in a cave after turning off the flashlight. That gasket trick worked far better than I expected. It filled up any minor, uneven gaps between the box proper and the lid. There was a faint afterimage in my eyes from the last glint of outside light.
I tried to turn my head from side to side. I’d forgotten about that extra padding but it remembered me. My head stayed in place, facing straight up. Somewhere up there was the LCD screen, my link to the outside world. It should have come on by now, for the initial check to see if I was okay.
It’s a habit of mine to always test the restraints the moment everything is in place. While waiting I did just that, starting with my legs. I got a quick lesson demonstrating how wooden stocks work as well as steel shackles when used properly. I tried hands and arms next, with equal lack of success. I already knew my head wouldn’t move, so that ended my little test.
The screen backlight flickered to life, lighting up my tiny compartment. I hadn’t appreciated how little room there was until I saw the lid nearly touching my forehead. The white background on screen was replaced with an image of the box, looking down on it from the far end, near my feet. “Here you go,” my friend explained, “one crate ready to be shipped to who knows where. If you can figure out a way to get out of that thing you’ll be more famous than Houdini.”
The camera slowly panned to the side, travelling slowly around the box so I could see it from every angle. The tour ended with a close up of the screws on top, countersunk to fit flush with the wood. The camera pulled back to show the hex wrench sitting on top. “All this and it only takes one key to undo everything. Kind of amazing if you think about it, one little bent rod with an odd shape on the end. Don’t worry; I’ll be careful not to misplace it.”
What I found amazing was looking at both sides of the piece of wood directly in front of me. I could see the outside on the camera, and the inside from the screen light. It was quite a contrast: a striking piece of woodworking on the outside; an impenetrable barrier to me on the inside.
A red LED lit up next to the screen. “Okay, your microphone is live. It takes a lot of power so I can’t leave it on for very long. Doing okay in there?” That red light was my sole avenue of communication beyond my miniscule universe.
“Breathing normally, can’t move but all normal so far. You wouldn’t believe how dark it gets in here.” My chin kept hitting the panel around my neck when I talked. We’d need to add a small cutout to fix that next time. Then I had one of those flash of genius moments. “I just came up with the perfect name for the project. What do you think of Stox Box, spelled with an X?”
“Perfect!” my friend agreed. “Stocks in a Box, sounds much better than the Pil Box.” That had been our working name, short for Pillory Box. “I never liked that first try. By the way, have you noticed how much the Stox Box,” I heard the emphasis, “looks like one of those economy class coffins? No fancy mahogany wood with brass handles, just the no frills basics?”
I hadn’t noticed the resemblance but there was something to it. I’d done some research in the early stages looking at catalogs of coffins. Other than being oversized it did bear a strong resemblance to some of the “back of the catalog” models. It must be a case of convergent design, I told myself, for a given function there are only so many practical forms.
I pushed the comparison from my mind. I had no intention of spending the rest of eternity in this thing. My stay was to be measured in hours, not decades. Distracted by morbid scenarios I didn’t notice the tiny red LED went off. “Wait!” I cried out. “I’m not done!”
My shouts weren’t getting through. “That’s it for now. I’m gonna go get a pizza and see if there’s anything new on streaming.” The LCD screen went dark. “Ooh…sorry about that pizza crack. You’re gonna be hungry when this is over. I’ll save a couple of slices for you. Try not to think about food. Have fun!”
I had water, but no food. I checked to make sure I could reach the tube. It was, literally, a hamster cage bottle with a hose attached. The water bottle was in the box lid, somewhere above my head. I didn’t have a lot so rationing was in effect. Plus it had to be recycled at some point through the catheter. A malfunction there and I’d be taking a most unwelcome bath. We hadn’t come up with any ideas on getting food inside, though there had been some discussion about a second hamster bottle filled with chicken broth or something equally disgusting. I wasn’t willing to wait for a solution, which meant I’d have to put up with a rumbling stomach later on.
It wasn’t only the light that was missing. Lying there I started to notice the lack of the usual background sounds. There’s always some noise around: passing traffic, planes overhead, birds singing, machinery running, even the rustle in the breeze of the bushes against the side of the house. I held my breath, searching for some tiny reminder of life on the outside. Nothing except my own breathing came to my ears.
“Testing… one, two, three,” I counted. My own voice was loud within the confines of my small compartment. I could always talk to myself, though a one-sided conversation tended to be on the boring side. Somewhere out there my friend was sitting on the couch, scrolling through Netflix while waiting for the sausage and mushroom pie to arrive. In here I was left to scroll through my brain while trying my best not to imagine a large pizza covered in cheese.
Once more I fought against the wooden stocks, doing my best to find some hidden design mistake I could cleverly exploit. Despite my best efforts that flaw remained a mystery to which I had no solution. I had to admit defeat and accept I was no longer in control of my fate.
For my bondage sessions, that moment of surrender, when I’m forced to admit I’m as helpless as a newborn baby, marks a mental shift. I was powerless to resist my captor. My obligation as a prisoner was to obey and try my best to please those in authority over me. I knew exactly what it was, a submissive need that all but overwhelmed me. I had to lie here quietly until I was given further instructions.
And with submission came the rest. I’ve heard claims bondage isn’t linked to sex. My personal opinion is that was either denial or uninformed guesswork. For me surrender is always followed by arousal. I’m sure it has something to do with the need to please. Whatever the reason, I was no unbiased, dispassionate observer; being controlled turned me on.
In any bondage scenario the key component is how to manage the hands. They are the victim’s primary means of escape from the restraints, as well as being instrumental in sexual release without the permission of the person in charge. That’s why those nylon tubes wrapped around my hands were so important. They were some of the best professional grade “dexterity destroyers”, as I liked to call them, I’d ever worn. Right now they were performing to perfection.
The stocks pinned my wrists down at my sides. Without the mitts I still had fingers and some reach if I twisted around. Conceivably I could reach that all important area of my body between my legs with some effort. But with those covers on my hands weren’t going anywhere, and especially any place a few fingers might do some good. Worst of all I could not even clench my fists in a futile gesture of sexual frustration.
Naturally I didn’t have permission to make any such attempt. By rights my captor should punish me for being disobedient. Since I was on my own for the foreseeable future no action was possible for now. I’d have to think about changes in the box design to accommodate disciplinary requirements.
The moment passed and I was left to stare into the inky blackness once again. This was the dreaded stage where boredom set in. Nothing to do, nothing I could possibly do in fact, except endure my enforced idleness. At a party there might be someone nearby willing to engage in conversation but that wasn’t an option. I stared up at where I thought the LCD screen was mounted, praying it would turn on.
How long had it been, so far? I was sure I’d entered the box just before noon Saturday. That way I could go for as long as a full day, to Sunday, if my friend decided a nice long stay would be good for my soul. I had dropped several hints at a time limit of about six hours, but as usual I had not demanded either a minimum or maximum for the session. It had to be up to someone else, to keep me in the dark…literally in this case.
I had no way to tell time. That was deliberate. I had read about the effects of perceived time dilation, where minutes could feel like hours when there’s no reference. The mind becomes disoriented in terms of the passage of time. I’d experienced it before when locked in a room designed for solitary confinement. What I thought had been most of a day turned out to be only ninety minutes. I could tell the same sense of time loss was settling in now. Had it been an hour since the start? Less? More? I had no idea.
There was one benefit to the stocks, compared to chains and shackles. Although I couldn’t move I was surprisingly comfortable. It helped not being bent into some particularly unpleasant shape, like a hog-tie with handcuffs and leg irons. My mind drifted, pulling up old memories not only of bondage but good times with friends. At some point I must have drifted off into sleep.
On the Move
I don’t know how long I slept. Something had woken me up. The box wobbled back and forth. What was going on? Another lurch, followed by a sense of slow, steady movement while the box slid in the direction of my feet. It had to be the winch in action. This wasn’t a part of the plan at all. Somebody was moving the crate, with me inside. If it wasn’t my friend I was in serious trouble.
“Hey! There’s someone in here!” I yelled as loud as I could. I tried pounding on the side of the box with my hands but that was an exercise in futility. The same thing happened when I tried to kick against the box with my feet. All I managed was to brush the far end with my toes. It was those wooden panels. The stocks were too well designed. The wide, close fit took away all my leverage.
The box stopped moving. That should be a good sign. Maybe whoever was out there had heard me, though I knew the box was nearly soundproof. I certainly couldn’t hear what was going on the other side of my wooden walls. I looked up, waiting for the LCD screen to turn on and offer up some explanation.
Instead I felt smooth acceleration and some vibration through the floor of the box. My predicament had gone from bad to worse. The only possible explanation was a truck of some sort, with me in the back on the way to some unknown destination. I was well and truly scared now.
What I didn’t understand was who had picked me up. This was definitely not in the plan. I was supposed to stay in the box, in the workshop, for the entire session. My friend was to be the only one involved. It had to be someone else driving the truck; otherwise I’d have been updated through the screen. In any case my friend wouldn’t have suddenly decided to ship me off somewhere. Besides, delivery companies usually didn’t make pickups on weekends.
I couldn’t hear much of anything but I felt the braking and acceleration. It started out in spurts, likely for traffic lights, but soon the motion smoothed out. That had to be a highway. I felt an occasional bump so I knew we were driving somewhere, but in what direction I had no idea.
The trip on the highway lasted for a while. I tried yelling a few more times just in case someone was in the back. Either no one was there or I wasn’t getting past those nice, thick wooden planks I insisted on using. When the only remaining option is patience it was an easy decision to wait and see what was coming.
Once more the start and stop jerks began. We were back in local traffic, possibly close to the driver’s destination. With a stagger the truck came to a sudden stop. We were here, wherever here was. I had a terrible vision of the truck on the edge of a landfill, with me about to join the bags of trash when I was dumped out the back. I clamped down on my runaway imagination so I could concentrate on any clues about what was going on around me.
The crate started to slide, head first this time. That meant I was being pulled out of the truck. Though proud of my clever deduction, it didn’t really tell me very much. Then I was being moved again, slowly, and turned around at some point, probably on a cart. Okay, I thought, maybe the box is being put into storage. That was better than a landfill but didn’t exactly lift my hopes of rescue. Desperate, I started shouting one more time. I don’t know why I bothered; it was obvious now no one could hear me.
I’d really done it this time. More than once I’d seen the story: someone into extreme bondage dies by misadventure. Providing I was eventually found I’d be one of those statistics. It was a small satisfaction that I’d outdone myself in designing the box. I’d been meticulous in both the restraint and confinement departments, and unintentionally in the packaging fetish too. So thorough in fact, I’d managed to do away with myself in the process.
At the very moment I’d resigned myself to spending my last few days on a warehouse shelf, the LCD backlight turned on. The screen remained blank but there had to be someone out there. I said a silent prayer of thanks to any and all deities who watch out for idiots and bondage freaks.
And then I was looking at my friend’s face. I couldn’t quite make out the background, some kind of wall painted white by the looks of it. “I bet you’d like to know what’s going on. Well, I was sitting there on the couch, watching one of those awful Turkish detective shows on Netflix and thinking you were probably as bored as me. Then I got this great idea. Why not a change of scenery?”
The microphone light wasn’t on or I’d point out I wasn’t exactly in a position to enjoy the great outdoors. I finally had the explanation for the travelling though. I’d been in the back of my friend’s pickup truck. But where was I now? I didn’t recognize that background, in part because the screen was low-res to save battery power. I’d need a closer view before making a guess.
“I can anticipate the next question: where the hell am I? No, it isn’t one of Dante’s circles of Hell but in a way it might be related.” The camera jumped around before coming to a stop in front of that wall. I could see more detail now. It was marble, nice looking, with brass plates in neat rows and columns.
“You remember my grandfather’s brother, the one with that property up in the mountains? He was what they used to call eccentric, meaning he had a mild case of dementia. Anyway, he decided he wanted everyone to remember him when he passed away, so he built this mausoleum way back in the trees behind the house. It’s out of sight and mostly forgotten now, but still in good shape. As you can see from the plaques on the wall there are a few residents, but it hasn’t been used in ten years or more. I’m sure you can see where I’m heading.”
I did and I didn’t like it. I could see a hole in the wall off to the right. I could feel the spiders crawling up and down my spine at the implications.
“You see the empty space? Yup, that’s your room for the night. Think of the stories you’ll be able to tell. An entire night checked in to Hotel Creepy. Accommodations are terrible but no one ever complains about the noise in the next room.”
I was ready to tear my so-called friend a new one the moment the microphone came on. I had no intention of spending the night in a graveyard, especially in a crypt with a bunch of dead bodies. “Get me out of this thing!” I shouted. “I’m calling it off right now. This has gone way too far past my limits.”
Instead of the red microphone light I felt the box start to move again. The screen shut off but I could visualize exactly what was happening. I was being shoved into that hole in the wall. With an effort borne of panic I strained to free my hands. The stocks holding my wrists didn’t budge. I didn’t really expect a change but I had to try.
The screen came to life again. The camera angle wasn’t good but I could make out the end of the box resting inside the wall. “There you go, all checked in for the night. I’m going to go home, get cleaned up and head downtown to see what’s happening. I’m sure it doesn’t compare to communing with the dead, but excitement is where you look for it. I’ll see you sometime Sunday afternoon.” The screen went blank.
“NO! No, no, no!” I protested to deaf ears. Then that last remark hit home. Sunday afternoon? That was an entire day, way beyond what I expected.
I was tired, thirsty, hungry enough to eat raw turnips and in urgent need of a shower, judging by my nose. The bondage session had spun out of control into some kind of weird parody where I was in a casket instead of a packing crate. I’d been on my back for at least a day, maybe more, clamped down by wooden stocks to the point where I was all but paralyzed. No question I was now an expert on what it was like to be consigned to a grave, albeit in a mausoleum instead of in the ground.
The one hope I had left was the eventual arrival of my friend and the immediate release from my tiny universe of misery. Was it Sunday afternoon yet? For all I knew it was still dawn and my friend was home sleeping off too many drinks at one of the local night spots. It was that cursed time perception at work again. Minutes were turning into hours, hours into days while I waited for salvation.
When the screen backlight lit up tears of joy streamed down my face. The blank screen changed to a picture of my friend standing in front of the opening to my resting place in the wall. “Not to worry, I didn’t forget about you.” The cheery tone didn’t impress me. “Wow! An entire night spent in eternal rest, connecting with the spirits of the deceased. That ought to mess with anyone’s head. Isn’t that what you look for, mental more than the physical? That’s what you’ve told me, over and over again.”
The happy talk began to sound more serious. The microphone LED was still off. When was I going to be allowed to speak?
“Before we get started I want to tell you about last night. No, no club hopping. Believe it or not I stayed home and read a book. It’s one of my favorites, short stories by Edgar Allen Poe. You might remember one of the great classics, The Cask of Amontillado.”
Of course I remembered it. It was one of those horror stories no one could ever forget. Montresor lures poor Fortunato into the catacombs with the promise of a fine wine. What follows afterward is the stuff of nightmares. My eyes went wide when I saw the parallels.
“You have your bondage kink, but did you ever wonder what my aberration might be? I confess I’m drawn to the macabre. A great word, macabre, almost archaic, something you never hear in conversation. You remember the definition: a grim, grisly atmosphere permeated with an obsession of death. Think of that word, let it roll around in your mind for a while.”
My friend disappeared, leaving the camera focused on that hole in the wall where I laid inside the box. I could just make out the narrow end where my feet rested on the other side.
My now dubious friend came back, carrying a heavy rectangular stone. “This is the capstone for a tomb. All we need is a little bit of mortar to keep it in place and you’ll be good to go. Hmm, poor choice of words; let’s say good not to go, at least for the next fifty years. But who knows, this building may still be standing a century from now.”
I watched with a kind of fascinated horror while my treacherous friend spread the mortar around the opening. In went the capstone, sealing my fate. I was now literally buried alive. No, I had to correct myself, not buried but interred. I was above ground, not that it made any difference.
“Thaat’s all, folks!” I was unimpressed by the Porky Pig imitation. “Seriously, you don’t have a lot of air left in there. Passing should be relatively peaceful as the oxygen level drops. I’ve read it’s a bit like going to sleep. Oh yeah, before I go I have a little present for you.”
That’s when I figured it out. That capstone sealed me in, cutting off my air supply. It might not be completely air tight but there wouldn’t be enough to keep me going. I had to stop there. Going for what? Suffocation was better than thirst and starvation.
The screen showed a close up of some kind of rectangular brass plate. On it was my name, birthday, today’s date, and an epitaph at the bottom: Pushed The Limits. I had to admit it fit, better than Here Lies Stupid. There could be only one reason for it.
“You deserve a monument for others to remember you by,” my no longer friend explained. “Your neighbors all have one so it’s only fitting you should keep up appearances.” The plate went onto four studs in the capstone. In a dull fog I watched the polished brass nuts go on over the studs, holding my memorial in place. I was puzzled at why my real name was on it, until it struck home. No one ever came to this place; the vital clue to my remains would remain hidden for decades to come.
My last picture was of a hand with a rag polishing the marker for my tomb. “It’s a shame this had to happen to you. I want you to know I regret you had to be my Fortunato, but needs must, as the saying goes. There was no way I could pass up an opportunity like this. So long, and to borrow Montresor’s line, requiescat in pace. Rest in peace, my friend.” The screen went dark.
The darkness around me was matched by the black depression concerning my imminent demise. The literary farewell did nothing to brighten my outlook. I might be resting but there was no peace in my soul.
What had I done to deserve this? Just my luck I won the psychopath lottery at the worst possible moment. I had no clue my murderous friend harbored a secret obsession with gruesome death scenes. Though I’d read that real psychopaths were experts at concealing their true emotions, or lack thereof. It’s the devil you don’t know that gets you in the end.
It only takes one mistake to get into serious trouble. That had never happened to me, until today. Now that misplaced trust in my mental case friend had cost me everything.
It was all so wrong. There’s a kind of unwritten agreement in bondage about trust. I loved that moment when I could feel the power drain out of me and flow to that certain person accepting my surrender. Every care in the world goes with that transfer, including any concerns about my own safety. I can relax, enjoy being helpless and vulnerable, literally placing my life in the hands of someone I believe will keep me safe. It was my life draining away now, and flowing to nothing more than the cold marble and concrete of the tomb surrounding me.
My breathing was faster, and I could feel my heart racing. It must be from carbon dioxide buildup, telling my body I needed more air. The box and the crypt were small, enclosed spaces, which meant I didn’t have much oxygen to start. I was starting to feel dizzy.
This must be it. Times up, lease cancelled, that’s all she wrote, the fat lady is singing; meaningless clichés kept popping up in my head, probably from the effects of asphyxiation. There were so many things still to do, places to see, people to meet, but none of that would happen now. My final moment was to be alone in the dark, trapped in a wooden box, never to be found…
The noise woke me up. When I opened my eyes the bright light was so painful I had to keep them closed. Was this it? There were stories about the bright light just before dying; maybe they were true. I went to raise my hand to protect my eyesight. Tried without success, seems I was still held down by those stocks. That couldn’t be right. Ghosts were supposed to be able to walk through walls, so mere wooden panels should not be an impediment.
“You take it easy while I get these panels off of you. So, were the mysteries of the cosmos revealed to you? Meet your maker, spin the karma wheel, talk to the Great Pumpkin, anything like that?”
Instead of some heavenly choir I was hearing my ex-friend’s voice. Maybe I’d taken the express elevator downward instead of up to the Pearly Gates. Surely I hadn’t lived such a bad life as to be subjected to the torment of spending an eternity with that noise in my ears.
I felt the stocks come off my ankles, followed by my legs, waist and chest. All that was left was the worst of the lot, the one around my neck. Instinctively I reached for that last panel with my hands, to pull it off. My hands, still in those mitts, bumped against the wood. Something wasn’t right.
I cracked open my eyelids again. This time I saw that familiar face leaning over me, with the hex wrench in hand. “Here, let me get that off so you can sit up.” Above my head the lid of the box hung in the air, held up by the hoist. Vaguely aware my hands weren’t working right I lowered them.
I watched the wrench spin around, bemused by the way the screws came up out of the wood. Two hands appeared in front of my face, the last panel came up and out and I was free of my boxed prison.
Slowly my brain started to function again. I was in the crate, in the workshop, not in a crypt. That had to mean I was still in the physical world instead of the spiritual. But how had I been magically transported from the mausoleum back to my starting point?
“Wha…” I tried to ask what had happened but the words stuck in my dry throat.
“Take a sip of this. Sounds like you’re dehydrated. Didn’t you use the water bottle?” A plastic bottle of something with a straw sticking out appeared in front of me. I grabbed the end of the straw in my mouth and sucked in moisture. Plain water but it tasted like the finest wine. Water bottle?
Then it all came back to me. I’d forgotten all about the hamster bottle, but then I’d had good reason to be distracted. “You buried me alive! You tried to kill me!” I meant to shout the accusations but it came out more of a croak.
My friend laughed. “Only in your head. We took a drive out to the mountains, went up and down a few roads and came back here. The video you saw? I staged it last week. Didn’t you wonder why I left the microphone off? I was sure you’d catch on.”
“But…my air was running out. I couldn’t breathe…” That was a vivid memory that would stay with me forever.
“Sounds like hyperventilating to me. It was what you expected to happen, so it did. You never had an anxiety attack while being tied up?”
I shook my head. A panic attack? I started to deny it but on second thought it did make sense. I held up my arms. “Hands. Can’t get the mitts off.”
“Oh yeah, missed that.” Once the straps were loosened the mitts easily slipped off. “There you go. Bet you’re glad to have fingers again. I still don’t know why you bothered. With those stocks in place your hands weren’t useful anyway.”
I flexed my fingers, curling them into fists, spreading them far apart, savoring my newfound freedom. I gripped the sides of the crate and tried to sit up. My arms turned to rubber and I sagged back down into the box.
“Not so fast,” my friend warned. “You’ve been frozen in place for over a day. Give your muscles a chance to start working again.” Sound advice, so I started with a few simple exercises, bending my legs, working my arms up and down. I had a stiff neck too, but rolling my head side to side helped.
A few minutes later I did manage to sit up. When I tried to stand my arms still weren’t normal. Worse, my hands started to shake. My newly redeemed friend grabbed a nearby blanket and threw it around my shoulders. It must be shock, a natural reaction after what I thought was a near death experience.
I held onto the blanket to stop the shakes while I gave my friend an accusatory stare. “You know, you really messed with my head, pulling a stunt like that. I really believed I was entombed in that mausoleum wall, permanently. You and your Edgar Allen Poe. Nice touch, by the way. The moment you mentioned the Amontillado story I all but lost it. You’re lucky I wasn’t catatonic when you opened that crate.”
My friend shrugged. “I give you more credit for mental stability. Though, now I think about it, there has to be something wrong with you considering your bondage obsession. Anyway, I doubt anyone could top a story like the one you have to tell.”
With some help I managed to climb out of the box. “Before anything else, do us both a favor and go take a shower and put on some clothes. There’s leftover pizza when you’re ready.”
My nose agreed with the assessment. At the door I turned back to look at the box. Never again, I swore. The stack of wooden stocks was on a nearby table. That got me to thinking. The box needed a few more restraints around the head compartment, something had to be done about the feet, and there had to be better soundproofing at the top as well. I bet I could have it ready for another session in two weeks.