I expect sand as my eyes slide open and am surprised when the storm from the night before has not covered me. I wonder if that is how I got buried in the first place oh so long ago. Slowly I sit up and contemplate the bars of my prison, they were alive and moving only yesterday. Dead and cold is somewhat better than the chitinous clicking and scraping of large insects moving around. I run my hand over them feeling the spines and tiny hairs scratch against my skin. Hair embeds itself deep into my flesh instantly causing it to itch underneath my calloused palm. The hair seems to burrow deep twisting and turning worming its way into the muscle where scratching the skin will bring no relief from the writhing. Only an torturous insatiable itch.
Shuddering I try not to think about the endless hours of torture ahead while I dig at my own flesh, tearing it to make a feeling stop, a feeling that might only be a phantom but still feels just as real. I know that later I will scratch it until it bleeds onto the harsh white sand beneath me. In a way I miss the pain of real life but not enough to live it.
Trying to ignore the squirming in my hand I reach up to brush the hair out of my face only then realizing the world looks different. What I first thought was sand sticking to my skin is smooth instead of the grainy rush I came to expect from the tiny shards of glass that make up the sand in this place. It takes me a minute to notice that the skin is too smooth, to cool against my fingertips. My hands slide forward chasing my cheekbones they are there but too smooth too cool and too unmoving. My fingertips caress the smooth surface covering my cheeks tracing slowly back to my ears which amazingly are free of the enclosure. The pads of my fingers brush backward through my hair almost panicking at the lack of buckles or straps.
My heart pounds in my chest as I trace the lines at the edge of my hair. The cool metal blends with my flesh curling into it. The itch is momentarily forgotten as I realize that this might be folded into my skull wrapped up in with flesh and bone. It is only now that I feel the weight of it. My fingers skate back across the cool metal marveling that it is not being warmed by my flesh and body heat only to realize that I have no heat of my own anymore. I have been here too long and it seems that this place is turning me into it. I lean back hard wondering if the mask is metal at all. Maybe it is like the bars of the cage, not metal but alive and slowly taking over.