Month: February 2019

Firefighter

Selin Serhii/Shutterstock.com

This post was originally published through Patreon on February 20, 2018.

The fire was so much worse up close.

Eric had seen it on the evening news every night since he was ten. He’d watched it gain a foothold, watched it advance, watched it spread like a contagion through most of the world, until Earth’s entire population, as far as anyone knew, consisted solely of those lucky enough to have lived in or retreated to a tenacious cluster of neighborhoods in Fort Worth, Texas.

Nobody knew where or when the fire had started. Perhaps someone had left a faulty device plugged in at home while on vacation, or perhaps someone had cast a still-smoldering cigarette onto a clump of dry and flammable weeds. All anyone knew for certain was that the fire was impossible to put out. Every time they fought it with water and flame retardants, the wind would blow it in a different direction, or the heat would burn so strongly that the firefighters had no choice but to pull back and retreat.

Like it was alive, Eric had come to believe. Like it had a mind of its own. And now, standing before the dwindling Fort Worth perimeter inside the small scrap of civilization that hadn’t yet been consumed by the fire, he thought that assessment was accurate.

Burning columns of flame rose high into a rusty, soot-filled sky as if taunting the survivors. Come get me if you can, the fire seemed to shout, and all the while it pushed against their failing defenses, promising to eliminate the final remnant of humanity.

But Texas wasn’t built that way, and neither was Eric. He believed it was better to die defending one’s homeland than it was to cower in defeat, and though the end was nigh—though everything he’d ever known stood at the utter brink of annihilation—neither he nor his fellow firefighters were going out without a fight.

So Eric donned his helmet, suit, and hose. He took a deep breath through his fogged respirator, then angled his head toward the sky to offer up a final prayer.

Then he charged headfirst into the flames.

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Red

andreiuc88/Shutterstock.com

This post was originally published through Patreon on Janurary 17, 2018.

Red. The color floods Amanda’s vision, a blinding solar flare in the dark, and she lifts a hand to shield her eyes as a familiar creature advances. She was seven the last time she saw him. The same blinding glow had preceded him, and at the time, she’d cried.

“Go away,” she shouted, pulling the covers over her head like a shawl. “You’re not real.” She spent the next twenty years believing she was right.

But she is not afraid when he approaches her again, nor when he inclines his head and offers her a shriveled hand by way of greeting, nor when he examines the birthmark on her wrist, a dark patch of mottled, mossy black.

“You are destined for great things,” he told her long ago. “Dangerous things, perhaps, but great.”

What he meant he never explained, nor did she have the courage to ask. Now, she thinks she’ll find out.

“You came back to me.” Her eyes have begun to adjust to the light, and she lets her hand fall limp at her side. “I didn’t think you were real, but you came back to me.”

A slow, sad smile spreads across parched lips. “I hoped it wouldn’t be necessary. I wanted you to enjoy your human life for a while longer. But our world needs you now, and I can’t keep my kind waiting anymore.”

She nods. On some level, hasn’t she expected this? On the surface, perhaps, it was easy to dismiss his existence as fantasy. But in her heart? The truth is, she’s always known she was meant for something more.

She clasps his hand in her own, her ruby tears glistening in the crimson light, and says that she is ready.

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What Goes Around

Selin Serhii/Shutterstock.com

This post was originally published through Patreon on Janurary 31, 2018.

The wind has become a billowing gust, a mounting power that taunts me as I stroll through my private gardens. I do not reply but continue on, while inwardly I consider the old adage that humans have always been so fond of: What goes around comes around.

An ancient enemy is the wind, from a time when the Earth was only slag, when the stars were nascent blossoms of fire streaking across an infant sky. “I claim the cosmos for myself,” I said, though the wind was its sovereign master. A battle ensued, not of good versus evil, nor even of ideal versus ideal, but might against might, a contest for supremacy and the right to rule all.

I bested her in the end. Worthy adversary though she was, my strength overtook her, and she was cast into the darkness on the outside.

But now that I grow old, now that my strength diminishes, I can feel her breath on my back once more. “Soon,” she whispers. “Soon, I’ll rise again and take what’s rightfully mine.” And I know, loath as I am to admit it, that I won’t be able to stop her.

What shape will the universe take when she breaks free? I cannot bear to imagine. The cosmos is mine, I think, though I never had a right to it. I shake with quiet, indignant rage, and I take comfort only in knowing I won’t be around when her time to rule comes again.

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