Darkness. There was nothing but darkness around him. He did not see or feel anything else.
There was nothing to hear. He did not feel anything touching his skin. There were no scents and nothing to taste. It was like his senses were playing a trick on him.
He did not even remember his own name, who he was, where he was or why he was there. The darkness devoured him and he let it do so without any resistance.
There was nothing else around him. Only darkness. It was so easy. There were no fights left to be fought.
He was about to succumb.
* * *
Suddenly, there was something other than darkness. A small light drew closer from his left. It split into three parts, one bigger and two smaller ones.
The darkness seemed more bearable in the presence of the lights. They were accompanying him and he felt at peace. He was not lonely anymore.
* * *
Suddenly, pain shot through him like a bolt of lightning. It took away the breath he did not know he still had in him. He could not remember where the pain came from and he wished it would just go away again. He longed for the darkness to come back and devour him once more.
But the pain did not fade.
It stayed and became more intense. After what seemed like moments, the pain was as ubiquitous as the darkness had been before and still was.
Slowly but surely, the rest of his senses seemed to be coming back as well. First, he could hear people screaming.
The sudden noise was almost too much to bear. He was not able to discern the different voices or specify where it came from. At first, it was like everything was mixed together and became this loud, mucous mush that somehow reached his ears.
He tried to concentrate but the pain was still close to unbearable, so it was hard. After a moment that seemed like an eternity, he was almost sure the screaming voice was not his own.
Then, just as suddenly as the pain had hit, he was able to hear someone say something quite clearly: “Sir, I think he’s bleeding out!”
He felt someone touching him now and another bolt of pain shot through his body. A painful sound reached his ears.
His own voice, he realized. His groan was cut short because there was no air left in his lungs.
He was able to roughly make out the main source of the pain now. It came from the left side of his upper body. Someone was applying pressure there. He was unable to move.
He smelled blood and tasted some in his mouth. He also smelled dirt, fire, pain and… death. He was sure of it.
The dying screams around him were a sign that he was correct. Dying screams just like his own dying groan. The darkness was almost gone but the pain were still there, just like the pressure on his side.
And so was the voice: “Oh no, you’re not going to die on me today, Vian!”
Vian. That was his name, wasn’t it?
He was able to ignore the pain for just a moment but it was enough.
Yes, it was his name. He was sure of it.
His name was Vian Alexander Tate.
And just as suddenly as the darkness had surrounded him, just like the pain had shot through him, just like that one voice had reached his ears, his memories returned.
He opened his eyes with a jolt and tried to sit up but the pain as well as the person applying pressure to his chest stopped him from doing so.
It took a minute for his eyes to adjust and then he stared into the face of a man he knew well and respected greatly.
The man above him was barely visible because it was so dark. There were only a few stars in the sky above them and every now and then, fires seemed to be flying by his field of vision.
Wes’ face was covered in dirt and ash and his grey eyes seemed even brighter than usual. He wore a dark uniform, including a helmet and bulletproof vest.
Just like himself, Vian knew.
Wes had both gloved hands on the left side of Vian’s upper body and still applied pressure. Somewhere close to his left armpit where the vest gave no cover, to be more precise.
Vian could feel cold metal vibrating below him. He was lying on the cargo area of one of their trucks, he figured. Somebody was driving which explained the lights and fires flying by.
There was someone else next to him and that someone was screaming.
Vian did not know who that person was and why they were screaming. He was not sure he wanted to know.
They were retreating and he did not know whether their maneuver had failed or succeeded.
The pain and the darkness tried to devour him again but now he knew he could not let them.
Vian tried to breathe in but it was hard and when he breathed out, he tasted even more blood in his mouth. He was not able to speak. The pain reached a new level and he groaned again.
Wes took his eyes off of Vian’s body and looked him in the eyes.
“Hey, no speaking or moving now, Tate. Concentrate on breathing only, okay?”
Vian tried turning his head slowly to see what exactly Wes was covering with his hands but the only thing he was able to make out was some bloody gauze.
Just then, the dim light of a burning building allowed him to make out a puddle of, presumably his own, blood which below his shoulder which got bigger by the second.
And just like the puddle below him, the darkness increased as well. It grew, along with the pain.
Vian tried breathing in once more. He needed to let Wes know what to do in case he —
But before he was able to say a word, the darkness and the immense pain returned overwhelmingly and this time, there was nothing else left in him to offer in reply.
He succumbed to the darkness and let the pain devour him, one word on his lips, one name.
One person on his mind.