He should have known better. No, he did know better. How many days had he followed that exact routine, never wavering from it, despite his desire? He had thought it would get easier as the years went on, but every morning he felt his stomach tied in knots, a tight, painful sensation that traveled all the way up to his throat and made him think he was about to puke. He had gotten so tired of cleaning up his own blood, the whole time knowing he would just have to do it again tomorrow. Kyler could hear his blood flowing out of his body, even if he couldn’t actually see it. He could feel it too. That wasn’t the painful part. The painful part was the breathing. Every breath hurt. He had tried to stop breathing, but within a couple of seconds his body would start ignoring his instructions, and he would take the next, small, shuddering gasp, grating his insides against the piece of #14 rebar that currently had him suspended a foot and a half above the ground. This had to be the most painful way he had died in years. The rod hadn’t punctured anything important, but he knew the moment some paramedic tried to lift him off the rod something important would tear, and his life would fade away in a heartbeat. But it was what came after that he truly feared. They would take his body somewhere, and it would heal, and he would wake up, because that was the way it always went. But this time he would be waking up in some morgue, rather than the silent privacy of his own blood soaked house. If he could get out, he would have to run. He had seen what happened when people thought dead bodies were getting up and walking around, and, ultimately, the practices couldn’t have changed that much in 60 years. He had tried to rip himself off the pole, or at least further down. The place was a construction site, temporarily abandoned for the winter months and covered in a tarp to protect the internal works from the snow and rain. He had been most reluctantly dragged here by two muggers, even as he begged them to simply shoot him. But they were not used to their targets begging for death as soon as they pulled a gun, and were convinced it was all some kind of ploy. One misstep on a high floor where they were certain they wouldn’t be interrupted, and one of the muggers had shoved him off by accident in an attempt to save his own balance. They had run as soon as he had landed. Kyler could see the street, see the people passing by on foot and in cars, even as his vision continued to blur. If he could just get down, lie flat on the ground, he could die quietly, and wait to reawaken in the relative privacy of a half finished room. But his limbs betrayed him, refusing to move even an inch as his mind desperately tried to save him from the fate he knew was coming. It was the scream that let him know he was too late. The blood loss had created a tunnel in front of his eyes, and he could barely make out the blurry figures on the path, but he could see a shadowed crowd starting to form in front of him. One voice was joined by another and another. Someone cried “call 911” and the traffic on the street was starting to stop. The firemen were the first to arrive, followed only moments later by the paramedics. They worked their way up to him, only to catch a glimpse of an awed expression as they realized he was still alive. The voice of the paramedic was a soothing monotone. Kyler was sure that the man was saying something reassuring along the lines of “you are going to be fine”. He almost felt sorry to disappoint the man. He felt even more sorry that the man was undoubtedly going to blame himself when Kyler faded away. One of the firemen arrived with a hydraulic cutter, and they carefully severed the part of the rebar that was sticking out of his back. He felt something slide, just slightly, as they lifted him over towards a stretcher. There it was, just like he had known it would be. He felt his back getting wet, and knew that the stretcher was getting soaked with blood. The paramedic let out a surprised cry, and moved in closer. “Pushed,” he whispered with the last dregs of air in his lungs. Might as well see if he could get those two muggers off the street, he thought blurrily even as his vision finally went, mercifully, dark. The last thing he heard was the cries of the paramedics as they watched the life bleed out of him.