...My body slammed onto the ground, wood and debris splintered around me, but the pain I should have felt didn't even register as I swallowed lungfuls of air. Air that stank of decay, air that was filled with hungry buzzards - but air that would keep me alive. The adrenaline began to subside and I felt the tightness of the rope around my neck, the burn that had tried to kill me. I scrambled to get it off, and threw it as far as I could from me - crawling back into a ball and staring at the rope, as if it was something living that could coil around my neck and strangle me again. I shivered and whimpered, lost and mortified in the hall full of swaying, decaying bodies above me.
Something grasped my hand.
I screamed to the top of my lungs - expelling all the air I had just consumed - but the grip was strong.
He was alive?
He was still alive?
He was still alive!
Then I heard whimpering - and was surprised to find that it was not my own.
I turned my head slowly, fearing what I might see.
But what I did see should have got a sigh of relief out of me. My mouth was hanging open, but no sigh came. I looked at him, my adversary, tangled in the rope he would have strangled me with - and one of the sharp metal supports that had broken and spared my life, had driven through his chest and would be the end of him.
He would die?
The concept was so unreal to me. I couldn't believe it. I still struggled to get my hand away from his.
Gluskin's grip weakened for a moment and then he tightened it, trying to pull me forward, “
” he began to whisper, his dying voice still so smooth, still so tuneful it was jarring. Was it effortless for him: to sound so charming? He then took a laboured breath, “
we could have been beautiful...”