Fire and Art

Yes, I'm an arsonist, but it's out of necessity. You see, I'm an artist. A rather famous one, actually. I've shown all over the world and my work has sold for over a million dollars. I've done work in oils, paints, ink, and pencil. You name it, I've probably used it. But my favorite medium is, without a doubt, charcoal. I love the way it shades so easily and naturally, how it gives even a beautiful scene a certain amount of roughness. And to get charcoal, one needs fire. So, you see, that is how my career as a professional arsonist started. I had a genius idea one day, to light a log on fire and use the charcoal afterwards to sketch the blaze. It combined my two favorite things, fire and art. I burned so many things that summer, and the paintings ended up selling for a lot of money. Then I started burning bigger things. Old cars, and abandoned sheds. Within the year, it escalated to houses and businesses. Never mind the fact that they were still being used. One painting sold for 4 million! Fueled by greed and fame, I let myself keep going. I ruined some people's lives, for sure. But mine was going great.

About two months ago, I was on a walk in the morning like always when I stumbled across an old shack. It had to have been abandoned. There was no way somebody would live in a place that run-down. The next week, I brought my materials and set to work. Fully doused in gasoline, I pulled out the torch and sat in some bushes to wait. I always did that, hid during the fire. If anybody should happen to stumble upon this place, I couldn't let myself get caught. It was getting close to sunset. The blaze mixed in beautifully with the sky, and the smoke was hidden in the darkness. Then came the screams. High-pitched women, squeaking little children, gruff men, hoarse elderly. This caught me off guard entirely. People started streaming out of the house. Ragged and some leaning on each other, I realized I had set fire to a house full of homeless people. About 10 in all, I counted. But there must have been more. An old woman yelling that her husband was in there. A teenage girl yelling about her newborn baby and injured mother. The sounds and the smoke all got to be too much, and everything went black.

I woke up to white. Stirring, I realized I had been admitted to a hospital. As the day went on, I came to find out the story. One of the men had run to town and gotten the police. 5 in all had died in the blaze, including the teenager, who had gone back for her family. They found me sprawled in the bushes and assumed I had been on a walk and passed out from the smoke when I tried to help. I came to realize this was one fire I couldn't draw. The police already suspected me for just being there and going back for charcoal or drawing it would make me almost a clear criminal. This was the first time anybody had been hurt, much less killed. I had to stop. This was going too far. Laying in the bed, I kept turning it all over in my mind. I felt horrible. Not physically, oh no. I wasn't hurt at all, I was just in there for observation. But mentally, I couldn't take the burden. I had to apologize. I asked one of the nurses to bring in the surviving homeless, and my room had 9 strangers within 5 minutes. I begged their forgiveness, but didn't let on I had started it. I simply said I was sorry I couldn't help without passing out. They teared up and said I was a hero just for trying. All except one. The old woman, whose husband had been lost. The way she regarded me was like she knew my secret.

A few months had gone by when I woke up early one morning to a knock on my door. I opened it to a familiar face, the old woman. She smiled a sweet smile, but I sensed something evil. From behind her back, she pulled a small can out. She threw it at me, and I was covered in something sweet-smelling and sticky. Then she hit me over the head with the can, and I passed out.

Half-dazed, I smelled fire immediately. Trying to move, I found I was tied to my reading chair. I snapped out of it. The witch knocked me out and lit my house on fire. I sighed, but choked on the fire. My house was in the middle of nowhere. How she even knew where I lived, I had no clue. But she knew that nobody would find me until they came looking days later. I'd be all ashed by then. Slowly, I could feel my mind slipping. I hoped I'd pass out before the flames reached me. They reached my room shortly. The red fire was a bright spot in the grey of the smoke. I concentrated on it, deciding to look at something almost pleasant when I died. Then, the coughing. It was so painful, and the deep breath after each round brought on another fit. As I choked on air, the world around me faded. I thanked God that I had no family who would miss me, no real friends to leave behind. Then, I closed my eyes and let myself go.





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