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Exhale of Death


The medical treatment ward of the Stormbrook prison was dull and yellowed from decades of having been pushed back on the prison’s priority list. The walls were stone and heavily coated in several layers of shiny, lead based paint. They boasted one casement window at the far end of the galley style ward, next to, but not actually inside of the office. Years of death and suffering, anger and violence, sadness and cries for mercy hung heavily in the air, unable to be scrubbed out no matter what brush, what mop, no matter how much ammonia.

That was the other smell, ammonia, nauseating and toxic. It tingled through the hairs inside Derek Messing’s nostrils, rousing him from unconsciousness. His hearing returned to a state of semi-alertness before he was able to open his eyes. He could hear them talking not far from where he lay. What were they saying? He could make out the rhythms of their speech, the separations between each word but not the words themselves. God, this is so frustrating! He knew they were talking about him, insulting him. He began to wonder about what it had been this time. How had he landed himself in the medic ward again so soon?

With considerable effort he tried to calm the adrenaline rush that had accompanied his sudden anger for the medical staff. He could open his eyes now but he did so cautiously, not wanting anyone to notice yet – not before he had full control of his limbs. He wiggled his fingers and pain flooded up from them, through his arms and stabbed violently into his shoulder, which, he now realized, must be dislocated. Pain was beginning to assault every inch of his body; he imagined how the beating must have been spectacular to watch. He felt the constriction in his chest, more than just pain, more like suffocation. How many ribs had been broken this time? Burning pain intensified lower, at his asshole. It was on fire, but wet at the same time.

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