The filth seeped into the silk of his cloak, the wool of his trousers, polluting the air with the sickening scent of metal.

Crimson was all he saw but for the eyes that had stared back at him not moments before. A beautiful, striking, bright hue that reminded him of his youth and of his mistakes… and of his life passing him by.

He'd never find out the outcome, would he?

Thirty-nine years of trying to… to recompense, all for naught because the filth was seeping into the silk of his cloak and the wool of his trousers much too fast.

Much too soon.

Thirty-nine years of wishing he… that he could just die. And now he really, really didn't want to.

Green eyes that reminded him of his life passing byNo!

Undignified tears leapt from his eyelids as he choked on the burning venom that seized his nerves and his lungs and his mind. Around his head, shining in a smoky corona, tiny little memories floated like strings of fog above a crimson lake as the blood dripped through the cracks of the unfinished flooring. The Shack continued swaying without him and the world continued spinning without him, just as he had suspected.

No! He managed to groan, trying to resist the venom that seized his muscles, but all that echoed in the musty old room, bouncing off the low ceiling was the whimper of a small child.

Really, did no one care?

No one?

At all?

The tear tracks glistened down his cheekbones, crawling through his hair and pooling in his ears.

Seconds ticked by, and his heart droned on at a weary pace, as if the usual pitter-patter was now trudging through molasses.

Please? he asked no one in particular.

I don't want to die.