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Martha’s bullet splintered ribs; cutting past my lungs. Swelling from her earlier kick stopped the slug reaching my spine. Not paralysed – I kicked her and she dropped.

‘I love you,’ I said, and we blacked-out, tied together by a black ribbon of blood.

There were probably clues this was coming: a truth in a dark joke and jest at a pain I didn’t know was there. Her feeling so passionate about me and on a downer, rather than an up, is beside the point. If she’d been on the ward, in the bed next to me, my money would have been on her hand being on me.

I met Martha at a funeral. She was the only other person there not dying or dead already.

‘Look,’ I said, ‘they’re the Living Dead – we’re in the wrong place.’

‘Death’s waiting room,’ she replied.

‘So…who’s catching the next ride out?’ I asked.

‘That bitch with that stupid hat…or maybe what’s in the box is still twitching and they’ve made a mistake?!’ she said over the rim of a glass.

‘No, my gran is definitely dead and my mother’s definitely alive.’

‘Shit…sorry!’ she said.

‘There’s room in the box for two – just a waste of timber otherwise,’ I conceded.

‘Fancy going?’ she whispered through a naughty smile.

And the rest is history…ours…and what might have been a future.

I didn’t know about the tumour growing inside her; that she would be catching the next ride. She loved me – as much as I loved her. That’s why she shot me, knowing she only had a few hours left.

She wanted us to go together;

her bullet was a kiss.

And when I wake, I’ll rip my tubes out.

They won’t stop me catching my ride;

to join my love.


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