Matheus’ cheek pressed into hard-packed dirt. The Earth wobbled, rising up to meet him, then falling away into the void. A rock poked into his side, then disappeared. Matheus exhaled, choking on the undulating aches coursing through him. He felt himself drift, floating away from his mangled body, tethered by ropes of pain and longing. The floor settled beneath him, bringing along the rock, and the dirt beneath his cheek. Matheus thought about moving, but even the shifting of neurons disturbed the throbbing equilibrium, sending the world skittering away. He inhaled the thick, fetid air, trying to remember what had happened. Fire scorched through his chest, then faded, leaving behind a tight, crackling sensation that made Matheus’ stomach fill with bile. He stopped breathing.
Instead, Matheus listened. A low hum filled the air. Milo’s computers, maybe? No, the theater didn’t have dirt floors. The cellar of the run-down manor had earthen floors, but they’d left, right? Matheus struggled to place his thoughts in line. Yes, they’d left, fled after Apollonia attacked. Then they’d gone to the theater, and then, and then… A dark haze obscured the rest of Matheus’ memories. He curled his fingers, digging into the ground, packing dirt under his nails. For a second, the world wavered, then settled into place.