The situation was unbearable.
He simply couldn't take any more of this... this waiting. Waiting for death for finally take him. That was death's ultimate pleasure really, wasn't it? The hunt, the threat of... That shadow, stirring in the corner of the eye, always just out of sight. That bloody nightmare stalking one's sleep, yet undreamt.
It was enough! Enough now!
John came back to his senses, and looked around him. People were looking at him. Had he been talking out loud? The man he had been talking to had gone leaving his pint, half full of flat beer... dead beer. John cursed under his breath, and gripped his own pint tighter. And tighter still. Tears welled up in his eyes. His teeth pulsed under the pressure of his locked jaws. For some reason, the face of his mother came to mind then, and he caught the scent of pin needles. Oh, God, John thought. Dear God. Can I... please... oh sweet Jesus...
"Hey, mate. Are you OK?" a calm voice asked. John looked up to see the barman, a bald-headed fifty-something with a ginger goatee and a red, bulbous nose. "Your not looing the may west."
"Well," John replies, sighing into a beaten smile, "I'm just about done for, mate. Feel like its a coming apart at the seams, man. Feel like... like..."
"Hey," the barman interrupted, raising his hands to his shoulders, as if someone had pulled a gun on him, "I'm no expert, my friend, but like I always say, if you can buy yourself a beer and sit in here for half the day, you've got it a hell of a lot better than most!"
"You think?" John asked, squinting at the barman. "You really think so, huh. I myself think were all equally screwed. We're already dead, you see."
"Mmph," the barman sniffed, "Well, if that's the way you feel mate, maybe you should do something with your life."
"Like what?" John asked, anger bubbling in his voice.
"Like get of your ass and stop waiting for life to happen. Do something!"
"Like WHAT?" John was shouting now. The barman lent across the bar, and John realised suddenly how well-built this guy was.
"Like maybe you should lower your voice? Mate."
John lowered his head then, and returned to nursing his beer. But, his anger raged on beneath his skin, and shame burned in the pit of his stomach. They were all surely looking at him now. Mocking him. Jesus, what was he to do? What the hell could he do? How on earth could one escape death itself? It was so bloody inevitable, and the only way these people seemed able to deal with that fact was to ignore it, at least until the last moment anyway. Death laughed loud then, and scoffed at John's ruminations. Idiot boy, death seemed to say to him, you haven't got a chance against me. You can't even face life. How much less able are you then, to face me, devourer of lives. John bit his lip, and stood, blinking back tears.
Perhaps he had better get it over with, perhap he had better leave all this. Leave it all behind. Perhaps he had better....