1. Blood

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    She remembers blood with most clarity. The rest is a haze like trails of smoke blurring through a screen. Not a slow ooze. Nor a fountain gushing from mangled arteries. Blood is a heartbeat thickly pulsing from Blaine's chest, like a paint-can under pressure, and reeking metallic

The carpet absorbs her blood like a sponge vaguely smelling of ash and cheap pet deodorizer. Somehow, worse than the iron taste. Her right arm is a lifeless hunk of flesh dangling from her drained body. While her left spasms until her fingers curl tight enough into her palm to break skin before going slack again.

Someone attends her. He has a nice mouth but he's breathing for her. His lips stained rich crimson by a throaty phlegm she coughs. He vainly plugs her nose then sucks air through her deflated body.

Red and blue lights skitter off him erratically, reflections of sunlight bouncing off a calm lake, as his mouth twists into an ugly shout. Blaine can't hear past her pulse pounding in her ears. Not much longer now before her own heart beats the life out of her.

Once his arms swoop underneath her she cries out. Him carrying her sets her oozing corpse into a shock of burning nerves. She latches onto a fistful of his T-Shirt crying soundlessly against his neck. His skin is flushed and vibrant with heat against her clammy cheek.

The journey isn't fluid in Blaine's mind, jolting out of focus with each flurry of pain. He nearly trips over a door broken off the hinges. Then he slips and squeezes her too tight while adjusting his hold on her legs. The tile floor is blemished by a tide of her blood. Stained elevator buttons, two then three more, pushed clumsily by his clenched fist.

Everything goes dark for awhile weakening by the second. The next flash is of outside still cradled against his chest. Red and blue neon hopscotch in a dizzying array. Whenever her eyes slit back open she's blinded by it. A shrill wailing of sirens in the background shocks her into vague awareness.

The man doesn't strain carrying her but he kneels down as if all his strength has expended. He inhales so deeply she can feel air rattling through his sternum.

"Blaine."

She aches at her name. Like someone starved but sickened by every bittersweet bite.

"It's okay." The world around her goes grey around the edges. She hardly notices her own voice. "It's okay."

As if her slurred response is permissive, he gently rests her head against the concrete step. The intense cold of the pavement serves as her grave. Although Blaine's head lolls to the side her eyes remain wide, dimly aware.

Blinking slowly, her breath a jagged rasp cutting through her chest like shrapnel, she watches the man stand. He walks like someone possessed, dealing an unwavering gaze, as a squad of police overwhelm the lot. Blood saturates his clothes and face deeply violet.

The man kneels then raises his arms over his head. Submitting to the tsunami of law-enforcement descending upon him in a flurry of twisted shouts or aimed 9mm pistols. His arms are roughly jerked into cuffs before he's forced to stand by a wincing tug of his elbow.

Inwardly, Blaine is screaming. If she weren't so freezing and faded she'd be kicking. Waving her arms like helicopter propellers. Doing whatever she could to free him. Instead her savior is shoved into the back of a police cruiser.

"Travis."

His name feels foreign and familiar to her all at once. She desperately needs him to look back at the concrete steps he left her at. The glance isn't granted. To him, she's already dead.

"It's okay." Blaine whispers. In a final instance of frenzied blinking, where the world fades in and out against her will, she watches a cop car drive away into the night. Suddenly slipping into death doesn't seem so unwelcome.

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