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Leo blinked as his heart stopped.  

A splash of light.

Blink. Blink.

More light.

Pricks against his skin. He floated up, his body awakening before his brain.

Blink.

He recognized his feet sticking up under a taut white sheet.

A hospital bed! Am I alive?

Suddenly Leo's eyes flew open. A murky, acrid mass pressed down over the length of his body. The mass had legs like pointy branches; sharp edges piercing his skin, holding him paralyzed. Looking toward his feet, Leo watched a glassy tube unfold from the mass's underbelly. The tube's pointed tip abruptly drove into his gut, forcing him to exhale as though he'd been punched.

With tremendous effort he whispered, "help."

Leo felt his breath mirrored back, sour, full of chemicals. The size and weight of the thing on top of him muffled his cry. He had to do better. The tube was tearing out his insides -- watery chunks of God-knows-what swimming up from his stomach into the creature. Leo knew he was being eaten alive.

"help·. Help ·.. HEEELLLPPP!"

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