Taunting the Witch

The familiar taste of the smoke surprised him. He’d given up cigarettes years ago, and yet the memory of it caught in his lungs, centered beneath his breast plate, that warm invigorating friend inviting him to escape for a few minutes, filling his trachea. When he exhaled, and smoke came out of his nostrils, the sight shocked him. This was no memory, but present a compeer of the air, but emanating from within. A tingle surged throughout his body, tracing every vein and artery, as all the smoke he’d ingested over the years released simultaneously, infesting his blood which dutifully carried the carcinogenic gasses back to the lungs, there to exchange them for more of the same. His air cut off by the infusion of reeking exhaust, a slow death by cancer was the least of his worries; for now he struggled, every exhale expunging more and more of the dense woody smoke. As he fell to his knees, succumbing to the lack of oxygen, her words rolled through his mind. “Those sticks will kill you, if I don’t, or both.”