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The End, really

In the split second it took for him to turn his head at the noise of an approaching vehicle, a refurbished car veered in a wide arc to avoid hitting the pole in front of Capa. What the driver of this vehicle didn't see was Tony, a black-clad shape in a slimy, black-grime coated street. The driver simply saw a flash of limbs and heard a dull thud as Tony was propelled over the bonnet of the red car, and a crack spreading across his vision as the windscreen splintered like a spider web. It was over in seconds, but seemed to take a lifetime. Tony was flung ahead, coming to rest beneath the pale glow of a streetlamp, and the driver applied his brakes to keep from crushing Tony beneath his wheels.
Tony Capa didn't move. The driver sped off into the night.

** **

People say that when you teeter on the brink of death, your whole life flashes before your eyes. Tony just saw the empty street stretching ahead into the distance. In a way, in a desolate way, that was his whole life.
There was no sensation in his legs. He knew he was hurt badly, simply because there was no pain. One arm was tucked beneath his body, the other stretched to the side. It faced the wrong way. Tony lay on his back, feeling the grimy, viscous icing beneath him seep into his skin, chilling his broken body. There was a kind of darkness around the corners of his vision, like old projector footage corroded by age.
He didn't wonder why the driver had left.
Desperation could turn anyone into a monster, and the most easily susceptible were those most recently afflicted with the malady.
But everyone here was desperate. Life was the only thing of value going in this city, and even that grew less appealing every hopeless day.
But not to Tony. Not yet. He wasn't ready yet, not now, not like this. He lay in a pool of his own blood, and on the filthy seal of the street, comprised of unknown substances. The thick yellow effusion of the streetlight swirled around his frail body, encircling him in a cocoon of pasty neon lighting. So this was the end of Tony Capa. He felt his life seeping away with each fresh throb of blood that was wrenched from him onto the pavement, trickling into the gutter, mingling with a greenish scum blocking the grille, as he slowly dwindled back into non-existence. It seemed this moment was interminable, stretching forever into the future, and but for the fresh pain crawling languidly through him, he thought he might have been dead.
Death. At night, it prowled the lonely streets, a palpable, omnipresent guard, waiting for them, the rats of the maze, to fall into its arms. Strange to think that he, Tony, would never again meet a new soul, never have another conversation, never cry or laugh or smile. But that wasn't all true. Salty tears slowly trickled down Tony's face, swirling lazily into the crimson, slightly acidic layer of his own blood. He was soon going to leave his whole life behind for…what? He didn't even believe in an afterlife; death seemed close, but not close enough to bite; a poisonous snake behind thick glass.
He needed something to make the road traversable. Needed someone to tell him there was something to come next. But with a soldered certainty, he knew that no-one was there to catch him this time. This time, as he fell into the darkness, he was completely alone.
Above, the pale lamplight above him seemed to flicker. As Tony stared up through the mist at the hexagonal lamp, far above where he lay, he realized the lamp wasn't flickering, wasn't dying. In a moment of peace, Tony Capa stared up into the true light of the sky for the first time. Bright pinpoints of light began to come into focus, tiny glowing specks of pure white. He lay on the street beneath a brilliant full moon, marveling at the beauty of snowflakes caught in the rays of light from a distant stellar satellite. The virginal snow blanketed the slimy, rotting, despairing city in an untarnished field of purity, blanketed the false light, and the lamp readily waited to be submerged, making way for the exquisitely precious radiance of the night.
There was no pain anymore. Tony Capa simply waited, in peace, on a carpet of glowing snow and reflected moonlight, a carmine sheet stretching out in a perfect circle beneath him, and stared up in awe at the resplendent celestial world which had hitherto eluded him.
Perhaps the light could reach him after all.
** **


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