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Burn, Prelude This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

57 years ago
Randy shot up in bed with a gasp, the fiery dream overtaking his mind. Sweat dampened his dark hair and sheets, and he felt feverish. He pressed a hand to his cheek and was shocked at how hot he was. He threw back his blankets and swung his legs over the bed, his vision tinted red. He's had urges like this before, but never this intense.
He stood, pacing, trying to push back the unpleasant thoughts, but they only escalated. Frustrated, he kicked his footlocker, gasping at the burning pain that shot up his leg. Usually, pain helped. But tonight was different.
Randy bolted from his room, rubbing his face. His breath was fast, and his heart pounded. He kept muttering "No, no, no, no," to himself.
He froze at Robin's bedroom door. He needed to see his sister. Maybe her innocence would calm him down.
He carefully cracked her door, searching in the semi-dark until he found her small shape on the bed. Her dark brown curls hid her pale face and her chest rose and fell rhythmically, soothingly.
Randy actually felt a little more calm and in control when his chest ignited in pain. He doubled over, gasping, not realizing he'd made an audible sound hefore Robin's small voice spoke quietly, breaking through his feverish thoughts. "Randy?"
He breathed in sharply, looking up through his hot tears at his little sister's anxious face.
"Are you okay?" she asked, sliding out of bed. Her green eyes looked black in his ravaged mind.

"Go back to bed," Randy said through his teeth, fighting the burn. His arms squeezed his chest but the inferno persisted. "Please, princess. I'm fine."

"Randy--"
He couldn't live like this. A few weeks were a few too many to suffer like this. He slammed Robin's door shut, locking it from the outside. She screamed from inside, tiny fists hitting the wooden door. Randy couldn't think clearly--all he saw was flames.

He quickly shut and locked his parents' door, then raced to the garage. The pain let off now that he was acting. He threw aside boxes until he found the lawn mower gas--something he was supposed to do tomorrow, he thought randomly. He grabbed his father's matches from the toolbox.

He started upstairs, pouring gas on the floor. All he could think was fire. Burn. Get away from it all. He vaquely heard Robin's high pitched squeals, and the frantic yells of his parents. but all he could do was pour more gasoline.

He covered both floors, then walked to his room, the last bit of gas sloshing in the metal can. He sat on his bed, looking around. Jesus, I need to clean up, he thought to himself. Small voices in his mind, some old, some his age, a couple as young as Robin, whispered to him, congratulating him. One voice, a girl's, was saying, "Please don't do this, Randy." But the others drowned her out. She started sobbing as Randy doused himself with the last of the gasoline.

He wondered if it'd hurt very much, fleetingly, before striking a match and letting the flames engulg his body.



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