This is Issue #3 of DeathWatch, an ongoing Serial. If you haven’t read the first three parts, click that link and go to ‘Ongoing’, find ‘A Beginning’ — start there, so it makes more sense.
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Like always, the world was darkness, and then blinding light.
Sound came first, like thunder.
It was his own voice, but he hadn’t opened his mouth. His teeth were clenched, and he could feel his body running.
That sounded like Hayes, one of the students in his war games sessions.
That was a teacher, but he couldn’t remember which one.
Too much, too fast.
He opened his eyes and saw someone familiar, and knew like always that something awful was about to happen. Something worse than any other death into which he’d slipped. He was already running toward that someone, arms outstretched, heart thundering.
There was a sound, a pop-pop-pop sound, something so small it was almost ridiculous.
Fire punched through him, through the center of him, from the middle of his back forward, and as he reached his target, he collapsed, his legs no longer working. He couldn’t even feel it when he hit the ground.
He blacked out, but he wasn’t done.
When he opened his eyes, the world was black and red and he couldn’t really see, but he knew someone held him. He felt underwater, and kept trying to reach up, to talk. He gurgled, struggling to get out of the water. He was drowning. He was drowning, and someone was holding him, but wouldn’t help him up. He struggled to move, but everything was so damned heavy. Great burning holes screamed through his insides.
Things fell into place (pop-pop-pop) — he’d slipped into this body, and it was dying of bullet wounds. But who? Why?
He tried to talk, to reach up, to rub the shadows and blood from his eyes, but he couldn’t move his hands. Why? What happened? Who am I? He couldn’t ask; his whole body felt heavy. The world felt entirely wrong, too wet, too hot and cold, all at once, and he was just so damned heavy. Keeping his eyes open was a struggle. Breathing was all but impossible. Something sucked and rattled, but he couldn’t place it.
The person holding him screamed for help (cotton in the ears, something wet, something cold, something red, something heavy — everything was muffled), lifting him up further into their arms. He could tell by the way the person moved, he was nothing more than dead weight.
Again, that suck and rattle. When he felt his chest spasm, and when he almost coughed, he realized it was his breath, failing, full of blood. The spasm made him see stars, and his eyes unclouded, if only for a moment.
The person holding him was still looking away — he wanted to see his face. Needed to.
He was slipping away, and his last word was, “Please,” as he felt himself go. He recognized the voice.
The person holding him turned back, looked down, and Kieron felt the world spin, dizzying him.
It was his own face.
“Ohgodno,” the other Kieron said. “No, no no no no please no, you can’t have him,” he pled. “Stay with me,” he begged, his tears an unashamed flood. The sobbing Kieron leaned down, and pressed his cheek to the dying one.
As the world went dark, and he heard the other himself wail, he realized who he was.
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