My Heart is My Keep (5): Obedient
Noriaki can’t catch his breath.
Consciousness is still hazy, his attention still fractured and flickering from moment to moment as his mind struggles to catch up with the present, as reality slips and melts in his grasp; but he can feel a pressure at his chest, as if there’s a weight trying to crush him out of existence, he can feel the way every breath rattles in his throat and fights against that force. His mind is dizzy, his thoughts dragging slow with the same delayed-reaction pull of each breath he’s struggling through; the effort is the only clear thing, and that getting sharper with every heartbeat of pressure increasing on him. Noriaki feels lightheaded, as if returning to consciousness has stripped him farther from the clarity of his mind, and in the haze of his distracted thoughts there’s not even strength for fear when the knowledge I’m suffocating forms itself into vivid certainty in his thoughts.
He keeps trying to breathe. Of course he does; there’s no real choice to it, not when reflex is fighting against the weight crushing him with every breath, even if each inhale only serves as proof of how much less air he can manage to struggle into than he did with the last. It’s a futile effort – there’s no force to his determination, no strength in his body, no chance of resistance – but Noriaki tries anyway, gasping for air until he can feel the strain in his throat, until the effort of it catches and chokes him. He tries to move his hand, straining with the effort to lift his fingers, to grab for a handhold, for traction, for anything to hold him steady; and then a voice: “Are you awake?” so sharp and clear and close that Noriaki’s eyes come open on the first wave of shock in spite of the impossible heaviness that seems to be suffusing his entire body.