I was dimly aware that my hands were going to be bruised, but I kept pumping anyway, long since unable to count out loud due to my lack of breath. I felt like there was no oxygen in the air, which struck me as somehow ironic as I leaned down and force air that I didn’t have out of my lungs. All the sounds of the world around me were muffled, as though my ears were full of cotton, but I could still make out the important ones. Screams, mostly. Someone on a phone finally making that call. A trill in the distance coming to relieve me.
I leaned my head down and listened, straining. With my left hand, I felt desperately for that warm expulsion of air on my damp skin. Nothing. Shit. How long had it been? If I had to ask that, it was probably too late. No, fuck that, I KNEW it was too late. But my hands found their mark and then I was pumping again, the purplish bruises already spreading like fire across my pale skin.
I didn’t stop until the EMTs arrived, but all I’d succeeded in doing was cracking the elderly man’s breastplate. Even with that force – a force that shocked the EMTs – his mouth hung slack and his skin turned gray. Despite my best efforts, there was no saving him.