Death at last, Jason thought, as the rope tightened around his neck. He accepted the pain as a minor inconvenience, an unfortunate discomfort he had to endure while his life came to an end. He hoped his attacker possessed the resolve to finish the job, before a guard had a chance to stop him.
The prison chaplain once said that Emily would be waiting for him in paradise, a belief Jason didn’t share and thought was nothing but tired nonsense. A fairy tale for the bereaved that he wanted to be true but knew wasn’t. The preacher’s hollow words of comfort had no effect on the sickening sting of grief. Jason had concluded that the universe was indifferent to life, and of death, no doubt, cared even less. It wasn’t through a lugubrious veil of depression with which he saw the world; this was an unequivocal acceptance that life was abhorrent with no meaningful purpose, so why put off the inevitable. The eternal void was in the next room, and he had no intention of keeping it waiting.
Even though he wanted to die, he couldn’t stop himself groping at the rope around his neck. Failing to pull away from its suffocating embrace, he reached back over his head and grasped for his attacker’s face. These were just reflex actions, an uncontrollable primal instinct for self-preservation. If he could stop choking for a moment, he would apologise to his attacker for making it so difficult for him. He wanted his life to end without too much fuss, so he tried to persuade his body to be passive, but it still fought for breath as his brain screamed for oxygen-rich blood. Relax, his diminishing consciousness called to him. Stop fighting, it will be over soon.
A wave of euphoria rolled over his body, giving him a means to float above the pain. Beautiful, he thought, as rhythmic lights passed before his eyes. Streams of vibrant colour wiped the sparse walls of his cell in and out of view. Hypoxia detached his mind from his body and quelled his instinctive reaction to fight. His heartbeat became a distant drum, its final declining beats echoing from afar and counting down the last moments of life.
Jason’s hands fell to his sides, and his legs crumbled beneath him. His body became limp and moved at the whim of his frenzied attacker. He watched with helpless resignation as the hard cell floor rushed up to meet his face, his nose and left cheekbone breaking on impact. A crimson haze coated his fading vision as blood vessels ruptured within his eyes. A knee fell hard onto the nape of his neck and the rope went slack. The attacker paused his assault to gain a stronger grip, before snapping it back into position with renewed savagery. The fibres of the rope tore into the soft tissue of his throat.
He felt one last vague sensation before leaving this world as a bone in his neck cracked.
Jason’s mind fell silent.