It wasn't supposed to end this way.
He wasn't sure how it was supposed to end. He had never given it much thought, to be honest. In his line of work, you shot first and dealt with the consequences after - took risks and only realized how close you came to death hours later, while lying awake in bed and staring up at the darkness. And even then he'd always done his best to avoid thinking about it, instead taking his solace in cheap beer and a whore's warm body, as he straddled the thin line between life and mere existence.
But there was no escape here, no solace to be found, as blood spurted out through the gaping hole in his neck, as he frantically tried to grab hold of something, anything, to keep him firmly anchored to this world. To keep him from falling into the dark abyss of the unknown, to save him from the horrors that had lingered at the back of his mind as he went about his duties, that had jolted him awake in a cold sweat, gasping for air, every other night.
There was nothing.
Nothing but the dank air of the underground lab. Nothing but the uncertain expression on Mike's face, the way he slowly but surely lowered the pistol he'd drawn instinctively. Nothing but the almost pitying look in his eyes as he watched. Nothing but the horrified faces of that damned cook and his little shit partner. Nothing but Gus - Gus, Gus, whispering and holding his head and shushing him, like he was a child having a nightmare. Was it? Just a bad dream? Maybe it was, and he'd awaken soon, either in his own lonely bed or amidst the old, stained sheets of the Crossroads Motel, a gaunt female face floating in the dark above his, thin arms shaking him awake and demanding his money. Or maybe...maybe he'd be there, with that idiotic puppy grin and those hopelessly tangled curls, with clumsy kisses to welcome him back to the world of the living.
This was no nightmare, no act of fleeting subconscious. This was real, this was now, and this was his life's blood spilling out in a dark puddle on the floor, almost blending in with the red paint. He was dying.
He didn't even know why.
So, no one is going to read this, probably.
But I'm writing it anyway.