When #ThingsYouTakeToTheGrave was trending on Twitter a week or so ago, I figured I’d make a smartass post about safety coffins. I was very into the work of Edgar Allan Poe when I was a kid, and he was nothing if not a bit preoccupied with the idea of premature burial, so some of his fears rubbed off on me. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what would be the best way to avoid being buried alive in the event I contract some form of Victorian novel heroine disease.
Poe and I are far from the only people to have worried about premature burial. The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice has a post on the subject, and the amount of energy and creativity that went into “safety coffins” is nothing short of amazing. Even today, with far better tools for detecting when someone has actually died, safety coffins are still a thing. A far cry from the old bell-ion-the-end-of-a-rope model, some have defibrillators, heart monitors, oxygen tanks, and even webcams.
It got me thinking– how would I avoid being buried alive? Truth is, I don’t want to be buried at all. I’d like to avoid embalming and be left somewhere to decompose, either out where scavenging animals can have at me or in a cave to chill with a whole bunch of calcite like the crystal maiden. With burial regulations being what they are, unfortunately I’ll probably have to settle for either burial, cremation, or being set into the ocean.
So! Scratch an open-air decomposition. I wouldn’t necessarily trust technology– I know how finicky it can be under the best of circumstances. Add decomposition gases, moisture, several feet of soil, and having to hope that whoever my signal’s recipient is doesn’t have crappy wifi, and I don’t know if I’d be comfortable with a techy solution. Not without a backup, anyway.
Being able to get myself out of a grave isn’t an option, because I’d probably be too weak to do it. Besides, if I can get out, grave robbers can get in. I don’t think I want to end up as a necromancer’s sidekick for the rest of my unnatural life (though I am less likely to die a violent death than I am one that is proceeded immediately by “Hey, watch this!”). So, that leaves a signal of some kind. Preferably one that doesn’t depend on electricity and a wifi signal.
Really, it seems like the old bell-rope scheme might be the best. Yeah, my body will eventually become all bloaty and gross and accidentally ring the bell anyway. I’ll be dead, though, so people running to my grave to disinter me isn’t really my problem so much. Maybe a bell rope securely tied to a metal ring bolted to the lid of the coffin, so I could feel around for it and give it a couple of yanks? I’d need a coffin large enough to move my arms around and find it, though.
I need to think about this and look up more stuff. Preferably things that won’t end with me on some kind of watch list.