A tiny muscle in my toe twitched. I couldn't help it. Pain shot through my body, and my nerves were taut and tuned to the highest pitch. Fever was pricking my senses, and I realised a horrible throbbing pain was vibrating my bones. It was bareable. Yesterday it would have killed me to feel this kind of pain.
Was it only yesterday? The thoughts passing through my head as I went out to seek old John seemed so many lifetimes away.
Yes, I'd died since then. How childish and ignorant I had been, without even knowing it. My toe twitched again. I tried not to breathe. It hurt so much. But now I was fighting for breath, and that hurt even more, as my chest heaved and my heart groaned. Couldn't I just die now? Save all that pain. Nothing mattered. But then I thought of the black hands of the daemonry of death. I shivered, but this time the pain touched my body less than the vileness of the black angels. Death was in my past, and my future. But it was not my fate. Not this time. This time I was lucky.
Lucky to be living. Lucky to be hapless subject to this excruciating agony, rather than a worse fate, a grey agitation, hovering between the golden glory of heaven and the black magic of hell. This torment, this pain, was my future. Time to look to the future.
Samantha. Her name flitted through my head like a shimmering silver spirit.
"Please...please, God." Something hot and wet fell on my cheek, like a droplet of liquid hope, an oasis in my hours of pain and confusion. A tear. Her tear.
I struggled to open my eyes, and even then agony pulsed through my veins, pain static on my eyelashes.
The first thing I saw was her.