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(continued)

He took a deep breath before continuing.

“I’m warning you,” said the voice from behind him, “Don’t do it.”

He’d listened to other people throughout his life, not excessively, but enough to know that he was tired of it. Being dead was supposed to come with at least one or two distinct advantages, and one of them was not having to put up with someone else’s continual bullshit.

That was why he was going to tempt fate and go for broke.

“My wife and kids loved me,” he said evenly.

“Stop,” the voice almost growled.

“They wouldn’t have forgotten me, no matter what.”

“Enough!”

“I did this for them, but also for me, so that I wouldn’t have to face my fears, and so that they wouldn’t have to pay for my mistakes.”

“I said enough!”

Was the ground getting cooler still? Looking at the sky he could swear that he now saw dark blue swatches of sky through the hellish clouds, shimmering almost like ripples on a lake as he continued.

“They were my world, and I threw that away because I was scared,” he said, still walking, “I wanted them to be safe and there was only one way to do that. But I wanted to avoid my problems and it was the same way, so I took it. I was a coward-”

“Shut. Up!” roared the voice, sounding as though it was almost in his ear now.

“I was a coward and I deserve the fate that comes to me.”

“Well, dammit,” the voice growled from behind him.

(to be concluded)

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