How about that?

You half run, half stumble down the stairs. Feet finding steps only slightly more often than empty air. Palm slides down the handrail making it shudder. Making your hand raw. Friction taking away more and more skin with each flight you descend.

Not good. Blood is bad. Blood is something they smell.

You smash the handle down and put your shoulder into the door. No resistance. You stumble past the threshold, keeping your feet more out of stubbornness than balance. Good. Stubborn people live longer. Stubborn people live.

You slow down for a second. You slow down for your lungs. You slow down to catch your bearings. For a second. You slowed down for a second and that was too long. Something grasps your ankle and rips backwards, your legs go back and your head goes down.

You don’t have time to be afraid. Fear requires thinking and thinking requires time and you don’t have time to have any time for that. You move, as automatically and as without thought as they do.

Arms up, curled around head. Chin tucked down, jaw locked, forearms tight against temples. Impact. Pain. Pain is fine. Pain means you’re still awake. There’s worse things to be today.

Your free leg snaps back. Again. Again. Two dull thuds and a satisfying crunch. Whatever was holding onto your ankle lets go. Hands down. Feet up. You don’t know where you are, but you know it’s not good to be here. There’s better places to be today.

You pick a direction and move. You don’t look back. You don’t think about that last wet crunch under your heel. You certainly don’t think about how, for a very real moment, it felt good. You know it’s not good to be there. There’s other places to be today.

Down the hall a window. Through the window air. Through the air a better place. A place that isn’t here.

You thought you were on the first floor. You’ve been wrong before, this isn’t anything new. You close the door. Feel it shudder and pound on your back. One last deep breath and then the world is sunlight and broken glass and gravity.

The van comes up fast. Its little skylight gets bigger until you’re through it. Broken fiberglass and plastic wrappers and cardboard boxes and cold. Everything is cold. Now you’re afraid. Now you think. Now you have time.

Your breath ragged. Vissible. A small cloud of crystals, for just a moment. It’s cold but it’s not you. You look around. You reach down. You pick up. You unwrap. Chocolate shell chipped away, exposing cold milky interior. Waffle cone cracked. Damaged. But still there. You can appreciate that.

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