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Summary: His hands blurred in and out of his vision. Blankly, he watched the thick crimson blood drip off his fingertips and fall into the glistening pool forming in his lap. Drip… drip… drip… counting away the last seconds of his life. Shifting abruptly into shadows, his whole world faded to black. As his limp body toppled sideways, landing in a broken heap on the floor, a smell clawed its way under the heavy door. Smoke.

Footsteps. Running footsteps. They slapped down the stairs, echoing through the empty building. “Hello? Are you down here, kid?” a choked whisper, followed by a crash as someone smashed into the other side of the door, “Anyone here?”

The choked voice was fighting to make itself heard above the crackling and popping of the ever growing fire. Bursting into the basement, a man gasped and rushed forward to the boy’s side. “Russell? Oh God. Russell? Is that you?! You’re gonna be okay. Can you hear me?” Automatically his index and middle fingers went to the boy’s neck, checking for a pulse. At first, nothing, then a small throbbing. Four seconds later, another. Four and a half seconds later, another. His pulse was rapidly diminishing.

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