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“I can’t breathe,” was the last thing he could remember saying. He couldn’t quite remember, why or the rest, just-

A hospital room. Clean, dark, empty. It hurt too much to keep his eyes open; everything was tiring. 

Another moment back in his mind, running as fast as he could, he was in danger, his family, if he could just-

And there it was again, “I can’t breathe,” and then…nothing. No more memory. No more sound or feeling. 

But a voice. “Open your eyes.”

No. That was too much. Later, he could try that, for whoever it was. 

“Open your eyes.” 

Insistent as all get out, apparently. 

“Do you want to go home? Then you need to open your eyes.” 

Home. His family. He’d been protecting his family; where were they-

His wife, as his eyes slowly opened. 

“Finally,” she said, but it was kind, teasing. “We’ve been so worried about you.” 

“About me?” his voice is scratchier than he anticipated, his throat hurts. “What about you?” 

“What about me?” she laughed. “Aside from sleeping in that horrible chair, I’m fine.” 

He turned his head. An uncomfortable, plastic-looking armchair near his bed. “What about the kids?” 

“At home, just fine. What on earth are you so worried about?” 

“The blackout, everything! How did you even get me here?” 

Her frown lines deepen. “What blackout? And I drove you? Though the doctor yelled at me for that, with an asthma attack that bad we should have called an ambulance apparently. But you’re okay, they only had to put a breathing tube in briefly. Maybe the medication gave you nightmares, hm?” 

“What are you talking about?” How can she have forgotten everything? 

“I’m going to go get the doctor. He should know you’ve woken up anyway-” 

“Please don’t go,” he’s interrupted her, she looks upset, his hand is on her arm, and he can feel his chest tightening, can hear himself wheezing.

“Simon, this is what triggered it last time,” she murmured. “Stress. You’ve been doing too much, not taking enough breaks.” 

“I come home,” he tries to get the words out quickly, but they race away with the breath he can’t draw. “Every night.” 

“So do a lot of people,” she’s so sweet, even as she pulls his fingers from her arm. “Doesn’t mean they leave all their stress outside when they get there though, and you haven’t been. Please, just lay back and relax. Where’s the button for the nurse?” 


He’s out again, back running. He’s in danger, his family is in danger, but his feet can’t move fast enough in the brush. Is he nearer the station, his house…where is he? 

He can’t breathe. 

Why can’t he breathe.

He needs to breathe. 

They’re in danger. 

But all around is just black.