This story opens at its climax, and it is very very short.
It starts with a sound and a stabbing pain:
A white flash, a catching of the breath. A half formed thought.
What is the difference between 21 and 42?
A heartbeat. A blink.
What is the anatomy of a heartbeat?
Systole, diastole. Ba...dump. In lock step. Heel on toe. Butter on bread.
What is the anatomy of a heart atack?
Blockage, death. Paralysis... necrosis.
I always thought there would be more. How many have I had?
Heartbeats in 21 years. Blinks in 42.
Time to self medicate. People save themselves all the time. Think.
There was a guy who saved himself...
He was trapped under a rock, halfway up a mountain. He cut off his own arm with a pen knife.
It took days.
There was another guy who saved himself...
He was choking. He gave himself a tracheotomy.
It took minutes.
How much time do I have?
Time to dial 1-1-...
Time to cut the vacuum cleaner cord and defibrillate myself?
A chamber opens. A void, a vacuum. Drawing in fluid.
Anatomy of blood: platelets, plasma, antibodies.
A chamber closes. Pressure, constriction. Forcing fluid out.
I felt this before. For years. I thought it was cramp, fatigue, poor posture, gastric ulcer.
Warning signs. The time it takes to save myself: I already had it. It's gone.
Six hundred and sixty two million. Two hundred and twenty million.