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In the middle of an infinite algebra problem, Casey sighed and stretched her hands up, mind hazy from all the x's and y's seemingly swimming in front of her eyes. Here she was, stuck at home on a boring Friday night, finishing her homework and babysitting her little sister, while her other friends were out and about, having fun without her. She sucked in a huge breath, but froze halfway through her inhale. Was that...? Could it be...? There was a slight distinctive note of smoke wafting from the kitchen through the cracks in the doors.

"Jessie, are you watching the cookies like I told- Jessie?" Irritated, Casey cupped her head in her hands. The last thing she wanted was to clean up a mess of burnt cookies- cookies her six year old sister was supposed to be watching- and then have to rush to complete her algebra homework. There was a pregnant pause. No reply. "Jessie?" Casey turned sharply towards the wooden doors. "Jessica?" She used her little sister's full name, something she knew her sister would hate- but there was still no answer.

Casey stood up, her chair falling to the floor with a clatter. Her stomach suddenly lurched and she stumbled to the doors, all at once feeling lightheaded. Please don't tell me there's a- Nauseated with fear, she threw open the doors, and the first thing she noticed was the dark gray smog clinging to the ceiling. It oozed down the walls and trailed around the chair legs. Then she heard the crackling. There was a hungry roar that the flames emanated, something insatiable in every mad pop. Glowing sparks flew from the ceiling to ignite an untouched piece of floorboard. As Casey stared in open mouthed disbelief, the fire drew nearer- and nearer.

Oh my god. She whirled around, slammed the doors shut- as if that would help contain the beast that lay behind-, and started screaming as loudly as she could. "FIRE! FIRE! GET OUT! JESSIE, WHERE ARE YOU!?" She couldn't even hear her sister respo- oh, my god. Breaking into a mad dash, she skidded down the long hallway and burst into the livingroom, panting heavily- only to find Jessica taking an unexpected nap. She yanked her sister to her feet, then crouched down and looked her sister in the eyes.

"Casey, it smells bad." Her five year old sister yawned and rubbed her eyes. "What's going on?" Casey's throat constricted. If she were to lose her sister, she would-

"Jessie, listen to me carefully." It wasn't apparent whether Jessie understood how much trouble they were in, but she knew something bad was happening. "There's a fire. We have to leave. So stay close to me, okay?"

"Okay. You promise you won't leave me?" Casey's eyes stung, but it wasn't from the smoke.

"I promise." Casey took her sister's hand. They scrambled into the hallway, choking on fine soot.

Her mind churned furiously. If the kitchen burning up, that meant the side door was on fire as well. There were many windows in their two story house, but that would be the last tactic. The front door should be okay...The girls raced past the flaming kitchen. The hot air hit Casey hard, and the smoke stung her eyes, but her mind was focused only on their survival. Panting and wheezing, they made it to the front door, but the flames chased after them with furious speed. As Casey yanked on the door, the fire spread out behind them, peeling the paint and blackening the walls. She threw open the door, and she could see the firefighters swarming around their house. But flames had already spread its greedy fingers above the doorway. The walls began to moan and creak.

"GO!" With a mighty shove, Casey shoved Jessie away from the burning doorway to safety. It felt like time had froze- Jessie fell onto her hands and knees, weeping inconsolably, her sobs racking her body- and then the blazing structure cracked and crashed down onto the ground. The entrance had collapsed. Casey was thrown back a couple of feet. The flames had fanned out behind her. There was nothing to do but- RUN! Quickly, she scrambled to her feet and covered her face with her arms, blindly darting through the fire. When she was sure she was safe, she uncovered her face and squinted through the thick smog. There- there the staircase was! She leaped over the patches of burnt carpet and scaled the stairs two by two. She sprinted into her own room, a pure white, pristine and untouched.

For a moment, the monster was gone, her room perfect, the house unscathed, her family laughing downstairs. Yet time snapped and she winced at scorching, flowing heat behind her. She waved at the gray haze weaving through the air. She could feel the fire, in all its raw fury, surging towards her, the staircase brittle as bones, rattling and cracking slowly, falling away in pieces. Desperately, she searched her mind for any other options, but there was only one- and it couldn't guarantee her survival. She sucked in a sharp breath, though the air was laden with black ash, gathering something she thought she would never need.

Faith. What a funny word, she thought to herself. Faith. Yes, it was a gamble, it was a chance, and she could only hope for the best. She thought of her family- Jessie!-, her friends, all the people she had ever touched and knew. There was faith in being with friends and loved ones and even saying hello and...saying goodbye, she realized. But there was also faith in making this decision. She was blindly offering her fate up to the heavens. Faith. She had to have faith in the outcome, whatever it may be. She would rise from the ashes.

With a quick breath, she drew aside the curtains, and opened the window. This was the only exit now. She closed her eyes for a quick second. The beast was approaching. She felt its scalding tongue whisking towards her, the heat rolling off of its tendrils, and with all her strength-

"You promise you won't leave me?"
"I promise."

Casey jumped.




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This article has 2 comments. Post your own!

summerbringer said...
May 25 at 12:16 am:
wow! this is so amazing and detailed. i like how you showed instead of told. i have seen your other writing and it is really good! i really enjoy your work!
 
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Doglover said...
May 17 at 6:41 pm:
Alluring and touching!
 
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