Your heart is pounding slowly, each beat reverberating through your body, making your vision tremble and sharpen, pulse and adjust, like a camera fine-focusing as it tries to make sense of what it is capturing.
You're hyper aware of the quickly forming sweat as you crash into a wall beside you again, unable to keep your balance. Your legs aren't enough to support you, two molds of jelly beneath you. Breath shuddering, your arms are tight around your stomach, and yet the ticking breaks through your utter disorientation. A loud repetition you have long since grown used to, only now it is physical. It isn't coming from your head. It was coming from your stomach.
Suddenly you're on your knees and there's another dull throb you have to deal with. Ignoring it as best as you can, you shakily raise your shirt. Your stomach is smooth, muscled from years of training, nothing abnormal, but it's with clenched teeth that you press against your stomach to find something solid beneath your finger tips, hiding under layers of skin. Your press harder, find a curve. It's circular. It's a clock. It's a bomb.
It's a bomb and suddenly you're standing as the world becomes brighter and your heavy feet and a crunch and you leave behind remnants of shades as you stumble out of the apartment. You take panic panic panic building panic and then SNOP CRACK there's a harsh transition and there's rage, you're angry, uncontrollable.
You tear out of the doors of the apartment complex with striking clarity. You can see everything like a man who's life was unexpectedly give back. You don't stop to look around, don't have time, and ain't that hilarious? Out of time, mother fucker. Tick, tock, tic, tock!
There's more people out in the streets than you'd expected, and you shoulder past them - where to, who even fucking knows - but movement becomes easier as people start circling around you, leaving a wide gap between you and them as they shoot you terrified looks. Initially thinking they are staring at your eyes, it's with mild confusion that you realize that the yells that cry, "Out of TIME! Out of TIC TOCKS, ASSHOLES!" are coming from you.
A shadow falls over you, blocks out all noise, and your eyes close. What feels like only seconds later, your eyes open back up and you know you're in a hospital. It's empty besides the bed you're laying in, the chair your Bro is sitting in, and the door through which John walks in, wearing a doctor's coat and a stethoscope around his neck.
You don't even think about glaring at Bro whose presence somehow seems appropriate. He stands when John walks in the room, clipped words of "When's the surgery?" jumping out through his lips.
John looks at you solemnly. His face remained the same from the last time you saw him, but there's a certain crinkle in his eyebrows, a little tug at his lips, a dull gleam in his eyes that tell a story of someone who has truly, honestly despaired and has just waited around too long, waiting, hoping.
Without taking his skies off of you, he replies to Bro, "We can't operate. He'd endanger too many people. Besides..." And then his oceans drown, and he's looking at the floor. "It's too late."
And then Bro is right before your face, and the world fades back to black.
Next time you come around, you're laying on the couch of your apartment. There's a thrumming beneath your skin. When you try to move, all you can manage is to shift weakly.
Bro appears again with a genuinely blank expression. No mask, no poker face. Simply a monotonous expanse of a human face. You lick your licks to speak, but when nothing more than a gush of air escapes you, Bro's expression falls victim to gravity with a frown and a downward curve of his lips. "Listen up, little shitstain." His voice is even stonier than you remember it. "You're a danger to everyone the way you are right now. New rule: you ain't moving from there. You jostle around too much and - boom. Besides, we're out of time." He shrugs and adjusts his clothes, grabs his keys. "You're drugged. Don't push yourself."
And he walks out.
It takes a while for his words to sink in, even longer to realize you don't know exactly what time it is or how much time has passed like you usually do. The longer you lay there, the clearer your mind gets and little realizations keep passing you by, but your body remains indifferent to your increasing desire to move .
Desperation starts clawing at you at the same time you start hearing the ticking from your stomach once again. Your fingers start twitching, eyes darting around the room. The idea of staying this way for whatever amount of time you're expected to run out of soon is suffocating.
In a desperate scramble to get up, your hand flops over the edge of the couch and slides against something cold, smooth. Your already restricted movements seizes completely. You take several deep breaths but your mind is racing and still gaining speed.
It takes some time for you to get enough control of yourself to attempt to grab the small knife on the floor - the supposed drugs are starting to wear off, your mind supplies - but with each failed effort your exasperation rises, and at one point you end up pushing the dagger farther away instead of closer.
Your heart is pounding hard, too hard, bordering painfully, and it goes at the beat of the ticking, and the combination angers you. The audible seconds echo in your head, in the room, around the whole world, and each twitch in the sound waves bites away at your skin, your being, your sanity.
"Mother fucker !" And in an all-in effort, you completely fall off the couch. You only remain stunned for a few seconds (five. or seven?) before you're snatching up the blade. It's small but your only easily available option. You can practically see yourself in the metal's reflection, sifting through your blood and organs as if you were rummaging through clothes in a messy drawer.
Which is how the steel plunges deep into your stomach. With bugged eyes, a breathless "F-fuuuuck..." ghosts out of your lips, and you roll over to lay on your side. The ticking grows in volume and pushes you, pushes you to move, to move the blade across and inside of you. It tears a bloody, jagged line in your body the same way a scream rips out of your throat.
Spent, you collapse completely onto the floor, body practically melting with exhaustion. Left panting from the exertion, blood quickly and quietly trickles from your crudely made incision. You distantly remember your plan to fish out the bomb residing in you, and hesitantly finger the edge of your wound.
The screeching pain that came with the touch makes you instantly jerk your bloodied fingers back, hissing. You suddenly want to puke from the pain, the stench of iron and cowardly fear.
Your intestines start to push against your skin, gravity getting it's gnarled grip on them, so with the image of them spilling onto the floor for you to see, you wrap your arms around your middle to prevent yourself from tearing apart at the damaged seam.
Though not at the forefront of your mind, you guess it's the blood loss that's making you drift in and out of consciousness. Every time you get your wits about, the pool of blood gets bigger, your pain duller, your strength weaker.
Until you open your eyes once more to see shoes right in front of you, in the midst of your blood. Bro crouches and slaps you around a little. You frown at his face, trying to get it to come into focus to no avail. Bro only clicks his tongue at you and mutters, "You dumb bastard."
With those parting words, he straightens and walks away from you with blood on his shoes and the bottom of his pants, like he'd just walked through a pool of mud.
You fall back into that blue darkness.
When you wake, you are still lying on the floor only now you're in your bedroom, sheets from your bed tangled rather tightly and messily around your middle. You sit up smoothly, no tearing, no gasping. No knife. No Bro.
You lean your back against your bed and laugh drily, tipping your head back and covering your eyes with your forearm.
"That shit got old a long time ago." The empty room doesn't reply, and the next day your arms bear the evidence in the form of light bruises of your determination to keep yourself in touch with reality.
No nodding, no sleeping. No dreams. No sanity.