He ran down a dark alleyway, panting hard and leaving a trail of blood in his wake. He clutched his side tightly, pressing his palm into the bullet wound in his chest, trying to staunch the bleeding.
But it wouldn’t stop. It just continued to seep through his fingers, no matter how tightly he tried to close them. He hugged a wall, resting with his other hand against it for a moment. He knew he had to get away—he had to find somewhere safe. But the blood trail made him an easy target.
He groaned in pain and pushed himself forward off the wall, continuing his staggering run as best he could.
He ran past house after house, all built in bricks, surrounded by wrought-iron fences. He stopped for a second in between staggers at each one, but each was lifeless. There was no escape.
Hugging the bars of one, he rested, tears in his eyes, begging that someone would see him and help him. But no one came.
He heard running footsteps a distance behind him and started again his faltering stumble. He went as fast as he could, always looking around for someone to help, but he never saw anyone. He knew his reprieve was nearly over—whether by blood-loss or his attacker catching him, he would die.
Turning another corner, he was met with the exact same scene as before—a block that was completely identical in everything. Each house was exactly the same, brick and iron, yet each was uniquely dead in their own ways. Lights were out, plants were dying, windows were boarded, paint was peeled, doors were hanging on single hinges, grass was graying.
Graying—then he noticed it. Color was missing. Rain began to fall, and even more clearly the street was completely shades of gray, lifeless. Except his blood—the crimson stood out, staining the urban floors.
Where am I? he asked himself as he grabbed an iron bar to propel himself forward, going through those motions with each step—grabbing a bar and pushing himself onward.
But then it wasn’t just the place. He looked down and didn’t recognize the body he saw. He brought a hand near his face and that, too, was unfamiliar.
He fell down next to one of the gates, sobbing, trying to figure out what was going on. His breath was heavily labored, and the blood still flowed.
He heard the distinct pitpatpitpat of running shoes on wet asphalt, and struggled to push himself up before the sound was drowned out by the rain. He looked back and saw no one, thinking it must have been the rain the whole time.
He leaned against the bars again and knew he was utterly alone—alone in a world of nothingness.
He began to weep until he felt the warm blood oozing out of his side once more. I didn’t do this to myself. Then he remembered that he had heard footsteps before the rain started. His breathing sharpened, panicking. He turned around again to run away, but was stopped in his tracks.
In front of him was his attacker, pistol pointed directly at his head. “I told you you’re my sacrifice,” his attacker said as he pulled the trigger.