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you’ll be breathing after that alarm clock goes off ?” Michael sucked in the deepest breath he could before Vaughan pasted the tape across his mouth. “Take it easy, cousin,” Vaughan said. He turned away, taking the light with him, and Michael watched him clamber out the hatch in a fl ash of impossibly white daylight, then close and latch the door. In that instant, as Michael knew beyond question that he was dead, something changed. He closed his eyes and his panic went away. In the absence of hope, it was possible to act. He found the muscles that fl ared his nostrils and forced them to open. He discovered that he could breathe, barely, as long as he did it slowly. The air came through fl avored with blood. He tried in vain to pull free of the rebar. The eff ort made his nasal passages shut down, and he had to calm himself and fi nd his breath all over again. He had a range of two or three inches in each direction that he was able to move his hands. He moved them slowly, all the way to the left, then all the way to the right,
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