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Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Fire

            I was alone. Their charred corpses should have littered the ground. We just arrived a few hours ago, not enough time for their bodies to turn to ash. Maybe I wasn't alone.
            A tree collapsed behind me, the fire finally cutting through its trunk. There were fewer and fewer escape paths the longer I waited. I wanted to run, but the fire was almost to my block. The image of the house I built burning down surged through my mind, giving me strength to keep trying to quell the fire. A cracking from above made me jump to the side. A burning branch fell where I had been standing.
            I needed to get to safety, then keep trying to fight the fire. Shooting water where I was directed was easy, but figuring out the best course of action was not in my skill-set. I cursed the chief and my 'friends' for running away and dropped my fire-hose. Reluctantly, I ran towards the last remaining escape route. I turned and shouted, thinking maybe I had missed the others. Still nothing.
            I turned back around, sighing. I blinked, and something crashed into me. Whatever hit me felt limp, but hard. It landed on top of me, knocking the air from my lungs. I wiped the sweat from my eyes to see John's body on top of me. His throat looked like a wild animal had torn it apart. Not cut, not burned; eviscerated. I shoved the body off of me and scampered to my feet. I again ran towards the only passage through the burning trees.
           I closed my eyes and tried to rub away the salty sweat. When I opened my eyes I found a wall of bodies blocking my path. The bodies weren't burned, they're uniforms weren't even charred. The cause of death was as obvious as it was for Johnny; huge sections of neck were missing from each bloodied body. Something was moving the corpses. Something fast. Something I didn't care to meet. I looked around feverishly for another exit, but the wall of corpses plugged the only way out.
            The idea of shoving my dead friends out of the way was nauseating, but I had to get out of there. I threw my shoulder against the wall of corpses, toppling it over.
            Standing on the other side of the wall was a woman. Her black hair draped over her shoulders. She wore a remarkably untarnished pearl-white dress. Her face was calm. If the fire's heat and crackling didn't give me constant reminders of the dangers around me, I might have believed she was taking a casual stroll through the woods.
            The woman waved her wrist and the bodies around me disappeared. She smiled. Her black teeth reflected the light of the flames, highlighting her pale complexion.
I turned around and ran. I figured running through flames would be just as easy as running through whatever that 'woman' was. Sweat dripped down into my eyes, forcing me to blink again. When I opened my eyes, she was standing a foot in front of me. Still smiling. I skidded to a halt, just barely managing to stop myself before touching her.
            I turned to run again, but crashed into a wall of bodies. The wall fell and I toppled forwards onto the corpses.
            She hovered in the air a few feet from me. Her hair and dress fluttered as if she was underwater. “Tell everyone what you've seen,” she said in a raspy voice. The sounds seemed to scrape through her throat and force their way out of her mouth. “Tell them this town is mine. If I desire to burn it to the ground, I shall do so.”
            I blinked away more sweat, and she was gone. I stayed on the ground, motionless. A branch snapped and crashed to the ground nearby. I thanked God as I ran through the miraculously still accessible escape route.
            No one believed me. I told you all, but you won't believe me. She doesn't believe I told you. Now she will tell you herself.



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