For the first time in his life, he felt nothing.
He saw the red tide swiftly advance through the white of the snow, staining the crystals a dark, rust that smelt faintly of iron and tasted of death. Pale clouds burst from his gasping lungs as his hand reached, for what he no longer knew. The harsh gray of the street blended into the steel gray of the sky, and the line separating them was of pulsing blue and red strobe lights as the sirens shrieked and the alarms rang.
His entourage would soon arrive.
Nose half frozen, he cracked his lips and panted. It was getting harder to breath, harder still to move or even think of moving. So he decided not to bother with attempting to get up when the cars pulled to a halt around him and dull black boots pounded out of the vehicles accompanied with yelled commands and hands waving blunt, lethal instruments in his direction. As if he were still a threat, the guardians of the city warily circled him like a pack of bloodhounds that know the prey had been run to ground, yet still anticipating a fight to the death. He would smile if he could, wave his empty hands, and say ‘yes, you can take me in now’.
Ah, who’s he kidding? Most likely, he’d make a break for it—and get away.
Not this time.
A reluctant call is made for an ambulance, emergency response now summoned for the weak and helpless. Gently two officers check his vitals, as the rest storm about, searching and posturing.
And then he saw her.
She stepped out of an unmarked vehicle, sturdy matter-of-fact boots first, followed by legs so long, a man could lose himself mapping their length. Slim waist, lovely breasts, plump lips drawn tight as her coffee colored eyes swept the scene; he knew she would have a glare that would freeze the warmest soul and a no-nonsense attitude to match.
This would be as good a time as any to say goodbye.
With an innate grace emanating despite her direct stride, she crossed the rows of police cars and barrier tape, past the surges of people on the sidewalk and into the alley. Skirting the filth and garbage, she seemed to glide through it all until she stood above him in her uniform, firm and unyielding.
“I told you it would end this way,” she said coldly into the silence.
He forced a smile. “I know,” he grated out hoarsely. “Glad you made it in time to remind me.”
Sigh. “Oh Trevor! Why?” She squatted down on her haunches to meet his eye-level.
“It’s getting cold,” he said.
“Damn fool!” Her eyes swam in tears as she cursed. A policeman glanced up at the bitter tone in her voice, and then turned back to his evidence hunting.
“I know,” he repeated, feeling at once like a parrot. Glancing past her shoulder, he saw a grey blur expanding and lengthening, blocking out the blood splatters against the brick wall. Was it a puff of smog from a tailpipe?
“Why couldn’t you let it go?” she continued. “Just quit while you were ahead?”
He muttered under his breath.
She leaned closer. “What?”
“Sorry,” he said in barely a whisper. He could see that the grey blur had gained definition, forming into a dark robe of some sort.
“Too late for sorry.”
“TOO GODDAMNED LATE!”
He reached for her hand. I love you, he said. The words wouldn’t pass his frozen lips.
A scythe materializes from the grey robes, and a hood drapes down where a face would be. Gnarled fingers grasp the rough wooden handle that extended from the ground and looms above its head. The blade curved over its skull like a lethal crown, winking malevolently in the desolate gray.
He’s running out of time.
She swiped at a tear, reaching for that veneer of control she wore so well.
He fought for breath. “Don’t…think…I’ll…make…it…” he forced out.
“Don’t say that!” she shouted, shaking her head so hard her curly black hair leaped and danced around her heart-shaped face. “Don’t you dare die on me!!”
The apparition stretched forth its skeletal hand towards him, past her torn and vulnerable façade as her walls crumbled. Pain lanced his heart as he realized that his time was almost up.
His eyebrows scrunched together, face drawn in sadness. “Love…you…” he choked, dredging up his last strength for a whisper that could barely be heard.
Her eyes widened. “Trevor?”
He heaved a deep sigh, raised his left hand, and placed it in that icy, rough palm stretched towards him. It hoisted him to his feet where he stood unsteadily, wavering on his legs like an unsteady colt. With a will of their own, his eyes turned to look behind him—
And there he was, cold and still, like a broken doll there in the alley of grey brick and frozen blood. The paramedics arrived too late after all, their equipment cluttering the snow-crusted ground as they shoved her aside to do their grisly work.
He thought he wouldn’t feel anything. Now all he feels is pain and regret, twin mandibles to gnaw at his soul.