Every painful gasp pushed the encroaching darkness away before it drew back slightly tighter than the last time. The colors of the room became bright and saturated. The dull pink walls bled into the white tile floor. It felt like a knife twisting in his chest while thousands of burning needles repeatedly stabbed him in the arm. He splashed some cold water from the sink onto his burning face, but there was no relief.
Half measures weren't going to work this time.
There was a pressure building behind his eyes, like his head was in the iron grip of a closing vice. Each breath was more labored than the last. Soon the once involuntary function became impossible to force.
This was it. It wasn't “heartburn”, or a “panic attack.”
This was the terminus. This was the ten-second countdown to his last breath.
It was now his time. He had spent the majority of his life thinking death was something that happened to other people, but now it was him heading for a coffin. His decomposing corpse that would be dressed up and put on display in a parlor. His badly made-up face would serve as an ornamental reminder about mortality, but only for a few days at most. After a while everyone, there would force the cold reality to the back of their minds and continue procrastinating their way to that final second.
His knees wobbled, and his body swayed. He gripped the edge of the sink and tried to steady his descent to the floor. A string of drool dripped from his mouth as he choked on a scream. All at once his brain disconnected from his body, and he collapsed on the floor. His extremities had been internally severed from his dying nervous system all he could feel death's hand crushing his murmuring heart.
He fought against the inevitable. Every breath he managed delayed eternity for just a little bit longer. He struggled against the current carrying him off into the great unknown. Existence had been stripped down to only pain and a primal fear, but he fought it just the same. This time though death would not wait another day.
He was falling away from the world in a black tunnel. Soon the last ray of light was squeezing through a pinprick before it was swallowed up by the darkness. Every sound was a distant and distorted echo. He was sinking deeper and deeper into the void. His panic suddenly abated and for an instant maybe only a fraction of the time of an orgasm he was perfectly at ease as he drifted away into the waiting emptiness.