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His insides screamed with pain, confused. Burning tongues of heat licked at his face and, staggering and barely able to stand, forced him away from the door. The door! The escape!
“I want to live….”
Murky smoke, carrying the distinct smell of death, poured into the room. His eyes frantically scanned the place, any door, any window, any hidden stairway would do. Heavy drowsiness wore his sight down quickly, the blazing brightness blinding him and forcing him down on his knees. Huffing and puffing at the black swirls of poisonous gas he felt his way forward, every move potentially fatal. He was crying salt, the water in his tears instantly evaporating of his sweltering cheeks.
“I want to live…”
The flickering flames seemed to chuckle with amusement, gradually devouring the creaky floorboards. His mouth was numbed by terror and smoke, baking his airways in tormenting slowness.
“Help” his feeble croak was, literally, a waste of breath.
It was just a moment, but still a whole moment, where he saw his body lifelessly collapsing, fantasizing about the relief of the exhaustion yielding and the pain finally succumbing. How sweet would it be? Probably dying as what they called a hero.
“I want to die…”
Wallowing in self-pity, he let his slashed hands creep along the wooden floor. Splinters dug violently into his flesh while he was searching for the fire. Now, it was only a matter of dying the right way.
The ceiling began to collapse and come down on him. Fine sprinkles of dry dust hit his face and it took him a moment to realize that they were scorching hot, forcing red marks into his flesh. The searing pain occupied him briefly, but gave him time to gather himself and recollect his thoughts. Was he really ready to kill himself, just because his end would come quicker?
“I want to die….”
This time, an unexpected response echoed through the mutilated room.
“Coward!” the fire seemed to hiss menacingly over the shattering noise of vast pieces of ceiling being flung down to the ground. Deadly missiles. Potential killers, maybe less painful than burning alive and maybe a bit quicker, too. Saliva drooled from his mouth, his brain totally frenzied by the idea of a solution.
His last big breath was wasted on launching his entire body forward. Spotting a burning chunk of wood hanging loosely by only a few nails over his head, he took the chance and hurled his weight directly under it. He waited. He curled up and listened to his desperate sobs and waited.
“I don’t want to die…..”
But it was too late now, now, that his decision couldn’t be altered. Stupid me, he cursed. He cursed, then prayed, then cursed, then prayed again.
“I don’t want to die….”
The blackened piece of pinewood, which had been hanging over his body by rotten iron nails had given in to the flames. With a big thump it landed right onto him, harmfully crushing every bone in his frail figure.
And just after he had roared in pain for the last time, the burning door on the other side of the room was burst open by two firemen, eager to rescue.
Looking around, they saw nothing.
“He should be ‘round here somewhere, shouldn’t he?” coughed one of them through the dense smoke. It dried their eyeballs in less than a minute, but they were resistant enough to watch the black fog around them slowly clear away.
The body lay peacefully at their feet, curled up like it was sleeping.
“Poor boy, huh? Tragic. Lost his life, man” said one of them, scratching the back of his head, not knowing what else to say.
“You wanna know something?” the other one replied after a while of heavy silence, “Life can only be lost if it’s given up on”