Ronaldo
September 15th, 2012

Everything's cold now. But not cold like I had wish for as a child, but wet cold. More the cold of a washed out fire. I cough again and someone presses their hand against my mouth. It's everything to be quiet now.

It's life to be quiet.

It was my fault anyway, I told them to keep on walking. We needed to move on, the village was being ransacked after news of the infected plaguing the town. It was my fault I didn't mention the wound on my leg from a not so dodged bullet.

I'm pretty sure the liquid I cough up is blood.

And the wheezing in my chest is flattened lung, not the ash grey snow.

Everything just smoulders in me now. I have no fire left, just frail smoke that hisses low and gentle from my body.

Priya creeps into my mind.

She doesn't know this but when she wanders, I get a chill down my spine. The devil walking over my grave as avรณwould say. Before the house fire, before everything.

Priya's the only person I can see now, just because of that spine tingle.

'Priya, do you remember how we first met?'

She roughly tucks the blanket tighter around me. She was murmuring to someone.

How sad it is that I don't even know who is alive anymore.

'We met in that alleyway, do you remember and I-'

More blood and spittle rises in my throat.

'And I asked you if I should stay.'

There was no noise, just the scuffle of shoes on floor.

'Do you remember?'

'Yes, I remember.'

Her voice sounds so far away. She is floating, in my mind. Floating far above us all. How nice it must be to be her, to not feel the cold hard floor on her bones. To not feel hunger pinching at her cheeks. I wish I was with her.

A man's voice. The voice of the shadow that follows Priya everywhere. Inseparable, even if Priya didn't want him there. He'll be there until the end, I'm sure of it.

'Do you wonder sometimes, what would have happened if you had said no?'

She doesn't answer. I blink and the few shapes I can see darken even more. There's a tunnel; I must walk down it.

'I do. I wonder if the sky would be as dark. If I had picked up my fire breathing sticks again, would there be cages with us hanging in them, elongating our necks. Would we have to live like mice from the Authority. It all boils down to us. How sad is that? That the world as we know it was because of us?'

The tunnel is widening, I can see light.

Warm blood runs from the side of my mouth. I want to lick it clean but it seems so much work to do so.

I want to sleep, let the steam hiss right out of me.

I reckon Priya's shadow is pressing her head to his chest. The boy had always wanted to do that.

It was the other one, the darker one we should have kept an eye out for.

'We should have never turned away.'

My eyes are closing as the light grows bright in my mind. Another shiver and Priya detaches herself from my mind. She doesn't want to know, and that's okay.

'We're all gone, Priya.'

I want to keep saying her name, it tastes like rain water on my burnt lips. But I want to sleep too.

'You should have said no Priya, you should have just said no.'

The bells chime outside to bring out the infected. The fire, after twenty years of suffering, finally stops in my head.

The light is so bright here Priya, if only you could see it too.