Liam awakens. He's groggy as hell. Damned poteen, helluva hangover it leaves.
His bed feels small, tight round the shoulders. Odd, it's been years since he had to share a bunk.
There is a pulsing, throbbing running through him. Inexplicable. Exciting. Important. He wants to chase it but the sheets are tight around him.
All round, in fact. Across his face. He fights to get clear, and fails.
Come to me.
What's that voice? He can't concentrate on anything but his struggles. Gets a hand free.
Wood above his face. Around his shoulders. Under his head.
He's in a box.
Come to me. NOW.
He ignores the voice. Not important. He's got to get out of this inexplicable confinement.
Strive. Work harder.
Now the voice works with his efforts. Clawing. Shredding. Feels a nail split, wood shards digging in. Hurts.
The voice is colder, and it was never warm. It's worth a trifling effort, foolish boy.
The hurt doesn't matter. Doesn't bleed.
He's frantic now. And at last some progress. He comes bursting through the last planks. Is covered in shower of earth. Panics. Chokes. And then stops choking. Not necessary.
The earth is loose. Freshly dug, he realises. He's long since realised it's his grave. Has ignored that horror.
He reaches cold air, and the cold voice greets him too, now full of promise.
"Welcome to my world. It hurts, I know, but not for long. Birth is always painful."
He stumbles towards the voice, his mental fuzziness not matched by the force of his ungainly movements. He's barely aware of speaking, yet knows he is talking with the Voice.
The voice is a woman. The beautiful lady from the alley. A cutpurse? Hardly, they don't attend their victims' graves. No, she's much more important than that. She's sensational. She promised him excitement. And fear. He believes her.
A noise. What now? And there, meat ambles towards him, carrying a lamp and reeking of mortal curiosity and foolishness.
The Lady indicates he may feed. "You know what to do."
And he does. Knows exactly what to do. The demon who was Liam is complete.