The pain. God, the fucking pain. It felt like my muscles were being torn by sharp nails, and my limbs felt the stab of a million dull knives. Everything from my skull to my toes was on fire. I cradled my stomach—that's where it hurt most. My body reflexively threw itself forward and backwards. I couldn't take in a whole breath—just short unsatisfactory breathes. My voice escaped the deep chambers inside me. I tried to hold it in. I didn't want anyone to know my pain. I didn't want anybody to know that I was suffering. It slipped again. I shoved a pillow in my face. Breathing became a difficult task. I moaned into the pillow. I felt tears ooze out of my eyes. I tasted the wet salty mess on my pillow. I began to sob louder, though I tried to hold it in. The pain… oh the pain. No living being should ever have to suffer from it. My heart pounded in my ears. My eyes were about to explode out of my skull. It felt like my heart was about to come out of my mouth. I could taste blood in the back of my throat. It stung. Everything hurt. And I couldn't just sit here and deal with it.

I released the pillow from my face. With the little bit of strength I had, I pushed my body up, my muscles cramped up in protest. I fell back to the bed. I stopped and waited for a minute. I breathed in one deep breath and held it for a moment. I pushed up my body and released my breath as I did so. I limped towards the stairs stumbling like my father after one of his angst-filled, beer-will-solve-everything fits. I bit my lip as if it would keep away the pain. I staggered towards the stairs once more. Once I got there I stopped. I sighed in exasperation. Fifteen minutes ago the staircase looked like a staircase. Now, it looked like a thousand inclining mountains towering over me, laughing at my weakness. I sighed once again. I heard the noises of Wendy, Billy and Mary upstairs. I thought about calling Wendy for help. She would understand. At least I thought she would.

I shook the thought of asking for help away. How was I going to do this? Just standing here made my knees tremble; made by breathing heavy and uneven; made my eyes water. I gripped the railing next to the stairs with one hand and lifted my leg with the other. I tried not to use one muscle too much for too long. I had a good rhythm going—well good rhythm for someone who would rather have all their limbs amputated and head decapitated than go another second feeling this way. I was about four steps up when my left leg failed me. I slipped and my weak hand on the rail couldn't support my weight. A loud thud sounded as I hit the edge of the stairs head-first. Though it wasn't far, my body did tumble down those four steps like Mary's doll. I grunted loudly and involuntarily.

"Shit!" I yelled. I heard loud footsteps follow the noise. I didn't bother trying to hide my fall. I lay there on the floor moaning in pain. I don't know what hurt most. Everything was not only burning but being stabbed by a thousand knives, being trampled by one-hundred bulls, being eaten alive by a tiger. My every limb and appendage convulsed. I heard footsteps thunder down the stairs.

"Matt!" The voice was familiar but I couldn't make out who it was.

I yelled in pain again, this time gripping my ears because of a loud ringing. I felt so weak, so vulnerable. I felt a pounding on my chest as I clinched my eyes shut. Though my world was already black I felt a haze pass through me.

Then, Nothing.