He didn’t recall hearing a shot, nor actually feeling the bullet enter his chest, but he knew now. It had hit somewhere around his heart; obviously not his heart considering he was still alive, but it burned slightly and that made him uneasy. He got up and walked a few paces, testing his strength and the stength of the pain, trying to determine whether or not he could actually continue living. It appeared that he could, so his first inclination was to try and ignore the wound and go about his day normally. But he couldn’t really ignore the bullet hole. It was there, somewhere beside that most important organ, shifting around restlessly with his every movement, like an uncouth thought, a deprived desire that one tries to suppress in the back of their mind. It would kill him, this round, he was certain of it. At least if he did not seek help. But he nonethless delayed in reaching out to someone and alerting them to his peril. If someone had asked him why, afterwards, he wouldn’t have been able to explain. It was just something he did, perhaps born of his stubborness and his hope that maybe, if he ignored it, everything would be OK. But it wasn’t going to be OK. The wound became more and more apparent to him, leeching his life from him in minute steps. It was inexorable and he could feel its progression, its gradual movement from life to half-life and then to quarter-life. And then he knew it was time. Not for his family’s sake but for his own, because his imminent death began to frighten him. He was too young, only twenty-five, and he did not want to cease living. He wanted to move. It did not matter if he wasn’t moving in any particular direction, he just wanted to be able to move, to be free to feel the non-kinetic trials of life. He wanted to one day feel powerful and like a man, not a dead corpse that had tragically succumbed to its own obstinateness and stupidity. So he finally called his parents, warned them: “Parents, I die. Please save me.” They began to take the necessary steps to save him. They traveled to distant locations, full of hope, and reassured him that they would bring that hope to him. They made phone calls and spoke urgently. But their actions were slow. He called them again, and again, and again, but they ceased to answer. They were busy saving him, too busy to listen to his pleas. And for the first time the young man felt terror. It was a terror unlike he had ever felt before, one that caressed his face with a macabre sweetness and filled him with emotion. He tried phoning again, but no answer. He could feel the wound consuming him, swallowing him whole and threatening to leave nothing of him. He slouched back against the wall of the mansion, crying to himself: “I don’t want to die. Please don’t let me die.” Only the wound spoke back: “Tough shit stupid boy. You had your chance.” And it continued to swallow him, happily spreading its fear and its animal nature into the young man’s brain, fluttering his heart so greatly that he thought it might catch the bullet and end it sooner. He was on the verge of panic: “I don’t want to die.” He called again but his parents were still to distant, still too preoccupied. He thought of his sister, and of his mother and father, of how they loved him and he them. Of how he was dying alone in this luxurious setting, a strong young body brought to naught. He coudn’t move now, his body limp and useless. Only the wound pulsated, continued to swallow. And as it finally sucked the last few breaths of his terrified life, he slumped forward and disappeared.