Pineland Village, South Carolina — Summer of 1804
Three year old Alla was trembling. It was so dark. She’d tried for so long to keep quiet, but she couldn’t help but make a little noise. Beads of sweat slowly started to form all over her body. Her hair was plastered to her neck, wet from the heat that permeated in the little wooden box. She started crying again, all the while keeping a hand over her mouth. She didn’t want to draw their attention. They had been talking amongst themselves for a while now and she kept praying to God like Mama taught her that if He existed, He would help her and the bad men would soon forget about her. Mama always urged her to be brave when they had their fun with her. “It could be worse,” Mama would say. So she would try really hard to be brave. But once her lip started trembling, her chin would spasm and the next thing she knew, she was in tears. The dark always chased her bravery away. Usually she would try to focus on the sound of crickets and other insects that would call out in the late hours. If she focused on them it would ease her fear a little bit. This time was different. This night it was eerily quiet and all she wanted was her mama. Alla slowly slid her right leg up and her tiny muscles tightened. Her legs were cramping. The tiny underground casket she was thrown into made her feel sore all over. She felt as if she were suffocating, as if the darkness were trying to squeeze her into oblivion. The thick and heavy scent of the cedar box she was enclosed in made her stomach churn nauseatingly. It was becoming harder to breathe. Her chest heaved faster with every minute that went by.
Someone started pounding on top of the casket. It was too late; they had heard her. She started crying harder, and moaned in fear. She knew what was coming next. Horrified, she stared in horror at the tiny hole that was cut out in the casket above her. Light came through that one spot, and if she hadn’t been concentrating on the light shining in through the hole, she probably would have had more fits of terror. Fear of what was to come caused her to panic more. A familiar warmth began to pool between her small legs. She cried out for her mama to come save her, although she knew that her mama couldn’t. Mama never did. That fact never stopped Alla from crying out to her all the same. The pounding came harder and faster until…silence. The only thing that could be heard was Alla’s cries.
“Are you ready nigger?” a man jeeringly whispered.
Alla started crying again, “Pease, pease ,pease, pease,” she chanted. “I’s gonna be good, I’s gonna be good. pease, pease, pease.”
The hole that had earlier allowed light to come through was temporarily covered by a terrifying silhouette. Alla started screaming. Her body jerked and slammed against the sides of the coffin, trying to somehow escape the horror of what she was facing. She felt it. It was crawling all over her. Another was dropped in, and then another, and another. Alla had lost count of how many were dropped in this time.
“Are you lonely?” the voice crooned. “Well you got your friends with you now. Here’s more.” Husky laughter came as more were dropped in. Alla felt as if her whole body were on fire.
“Noooooo!” she screamed, in agony. She beat the inside of the coffin until her little fists were wet and sticky. Suddenly, everything went black.