“Last Second of Life” by Sean Gallagher

Sean Gallagher

Last Second of Life

His knife penetrated my chest, sealing my fate. I could feel my blood pooling beneath me, quenching the desert sands underneath that called out so desperately for water. I answered its cries. The face before mine contorted into a wretched grin of shock, raised eyebrows, and eyes wide as this desert. Sutures that had weaved the fabric of the past, present, and future were coming undone all at once. What was real and unreal was unraveling before me, intertwined betwixt two realms of material and thought. I fell down and down, beside and into them, like an infinite daydream, or some all-encompassing fever.

The air was cool, and a light breeze could be felt stirring up through the chamber, as it was wont to do. From the balcony I could hear the colossal ocean waves of Calaget waging war against the vigilant cliffs, like great sentinels guarding the Tygrad Palace. They brought with them the rich ocean air that gave this place the salty smell I’d grown so accustomed to. Father would always tell me that we were so beloved among our planetary fiefdom that even the land itself rose to the duty of guarding House Salus.

I felt my body failing itself as I plummeted into the slipstream of death. Further and further I fell, until they surrounded me; a gallery of faces long lost to unerring time. My mother stood to my left, and her soft trembling gaze locked with mine. She held out her scarred hands in desperation as a howling wind tore her limb from limb, leaving screeching ripples of burnt orange stretching upwards across the thin bluish haze. Father and brother stayed longer, their fortitude burning brighter in the blazoned horizon.

“Gallius!” mother’s voice cried from the courtyard. I went to her, and the sight before me was unreal. Countless legions of Soronen deathfleets blackened the sky, like heralds of an inescapable apocalypse.

“Mother, what’s happening?”

“They’ve done it. They’ve really done it,” she spoke falteringly. “Duke Jagga Soronen has invoked the ancient galactic rite of bloodfare. There’s nothing we can do. Oh gods, there’s nothing we can do. The cost of an attack like this is unfathomable.”

“There’s still enough time for us to escape. Isn’t there?” I pleaded. “The hidden bay at the bottom of the cliffs, Uncle Hojo used to take me down there all the time. He kept an old subaqueous ship from before the Bloodfeuds in a makeshift hangar carved into the rocks. We can still escape.”

Her gaze locked with mine, and in a brief moment of recognition, I could see hope burning in her eyes as she wept.

In the last moments, I saw Duke Jagga laughing and laughing, until his throat gave out, and he collapsed to the ground in exhaustion. I could tell then that he was in the same situation as I. He hadn’t noticed until after he stood up that the secret poison needle in my belt had stuck his side. It seems only right that I die with an uncontrollable grin of satisfaction from taking my postmortem revenge against the man who slaughtered my entire family in the name of greed. I died, and as I faded away, I could sense through the sands his muscles jerking wildly and with reckless abandon. How sweet. How deliciously sweet it was to die. Oh, how it was to die.