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Hellfire

Author's note: I was inspired by my love of horror fiction and games. I wanted the readers to get a sense of...  Show full author's note »
Author's note:

I was inspired by my love of horror fiction and games. I wanted the readers to get a sense of how life is sometimes unpredictable or unforgiving right after I told them how utopia-esque it could be. I wanted to crush my character, to make the reader feel for them, to temporarily crush the readers' hopes for the character. Filling the readers with dread and unease is what drove me to write this story. However, I also want the readers to look out for their own friends more, as friendships are some of the most important relationships to maintain.

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Death Warmed Over

I awoke to my alarm clock, its shrill, steady blare; it had shocked my heart to a waking pace. My room felt warmer than usual. I could almost go right back to sleep, close my eyes, relax, sleep...
    But then I smelled smoke, and sat up straight.
    And I noticed there had been no fire in my room. But I could not say the same about Eve’s house.
    Eve’s house was being engulfed in flames, and I had been without water. I grabbed my cellphone with shaky, sweaty hands, and called 911.
    “Yes....fire....right next to me....yeah, the neighbors.....please hurry.....hurry.....thank you.”
    I tossed my cellphone on the bed that was no longer inviting. Cold rushed through my veins as I thought about the aftermath for Eve and Brutus. I did wonder if they had gotten out.
    I threw on my ratty, blue-grey slippers, a starry robe, and rushed down the stairs as quietly as possible. Both of my parents were heavy sleepers, but knowing them, they surprised me in the strangest (and sometimes scariest) ways. I was not in the mood for an adrenaline rush; the only things on my mind were sleep and the smoke. I muffled the click of the door opening with my sleeve, and slipped out into the dark morning.
    I waited outside, and was soon joined by my parents; I definitely didn’t expect them to be up. “Hey, peanut,” my mom whispered, pulling me into her soft side and pecked a kiss on my forehead. My dad put his arm around my shoulder, and my parents and I formed our seemingly invincible arch.
    We watched as the firefighters pulled in, yelling for the hose, setting up the big, clunky metal ladder, the, as Eve would call it in any other situation, “encroachment” of the house moving quickly. They unfolded the hose, gloved hands working to save our neighbors from their blazing plight, the fire that was consuming their house. Finally, they turned the hose on, spraying the house with pressurized water until the flames submitted to and were defeated by their opponent. The two policemen, one Caucasian, one unbelievably heavy set, had started to march and waddle their way over to us.
    One of them, the Caucasian officer, pulled out his notepad as the other started asking my family questions.
“Ma’am,” he addressed my mother, “do you know who made the phone call?”
“Honey, did one of us make-”
“Yeah. I did,” I answered, taking a small step forward.
“Well, that was a very good decision, young lady,” the larger one said, patting my shoulder. The notetaker casually nodded for the man to continue. “Did any of you see anything? Anyone around here at suspicious hours?”
“Well, not really, no. This is usually a pretty safe neighborhood,” my dad answered, tightening his grip around my shoulders and glancing worriedly at me. “From the second we moved in, I never imagined anything dangerous like this ever happening. It’s sorta why we moved here. To get away from danger,” he said, letting himself half-heartedly chuckle a bit.
“Sorry about that, sir,” said the notetaker, quietly acknowledging my parents’ dilemma. “This is, actually one of our safest and crime-free neighborhoods. These are very suspicious circumstances, and we’re doing our best to resolve the problem. Good day,” he finished, gesturing the big-boned man to follow him over to the firemen who were now walking out of the house with their heads hung.
Soon after, the Glassing news station truck swerved into, and successfully parallel parked across the street from us. They don’t get many stories these days, with us being a sort of smalltown that barely anyone likes to visit. We’re the town that your relatives live in, but they’re a couple states away and you never want to visit them because there’s never anything major there; it’s really quite dry. Half the year, the town is occupied, the other half, practically deserted because we’re all in search of entertainment. Some of the population will literally do anything for fun, even if it could potentially off someone. That’s the bland little town of Glassing in a nutshell.
A news lady with click, click, clicking high heels made her way over to us, fluffing her oily, perfect bob and straightening out her horribly mismatched, checkered pant suit. She fluffed her hair one last time before wiping her palms on her back pockets and motioning for the camera and sound guys. She checked her nails and lipstick before acknowledging our irritated stares; never before had I seen such an annoying woman. But that wasn't the worst part. Then she started talking to us. Great.
“Hey, I’m Sadie Worthington, might we interview you?” she said way too quickly and nasally for anyone to comprehend at around 2 in the morning; she had energy that made her the quintessence of a caffeine-hyped newswoman, energy that could never be smothered out, unfortunately. How badly I wanted a pillow to silence her voice with at the time was unspeakable. I cursed myself for such hateful thoughts, and became determined to deal with her as quickly as possible. I prayed for her instead.
“Well, first of all, please slow down, dear, it’s early,” my mother grinned, patting Sadie on the shoulder. “I’m Letha. Letha Mallory. And this my husband, Kevin Malloway,” she said, grinning at him, “and my only daughter, Candace. You may only interview us for a maximum of three minutes. It’s already been such a long night, so we all need our rest.”
“Well that’s wonderful,” she said chipperly, waving her tech crew closer to us and sending them a thumbs up. “Hello, I’m Sadie Worthington, here at the scene of what appears to be arson. We don’t have any other information yet, but we do have a neighboring family willing to talk about what they’ve seen. First, the mother, Letha Mallory. What do you know about the incident?” she said, thrusting the microphone in front of my mother’s face.
    “All I know is that the fire was still going by the time we all got out here,” she said, a polite little smile adorning her face. “Wait, what’s that?” she asked, pointing behind us at the firemen now retreating from the house. I imagined the lone, formidable white flag on their shoulders as they shook their heads in disappointment.
    “What’s this? We’ve just gotten word that Eve Arsonault and her spouse, Brutus, did not survive the fire. Rest in peace, Arsonaults. And that concludes today’s Glassing News. Thank you, and goodnight,” Sadie finished, giving the camera an earnest, flashy smile. “Thank you, Malloways. Your interview was much appreciated. Bye!” she said and walked away, tech crew in tow.
    We looked back at the Arsonaults’ crispy, blackened house. The forensic team and firefighters had somberly packed up their equipment, flipped their vehicular lights on, and were driving away into the night.
“Come on, guys, let’s go back inside,” Dad said, “and we can properly mourn them when we’re not so tired.”
I nodded in agreement at the promise of sleep, but what bugged me was that we were just going to go and sleep it off. I still hadn’t liked the Arsonaults much, but what kind of neighbor goes and uses sleep as an excuse to “honor them later?” Are Eve and Brutus at peace? Not likely. At least, Eve might not be. “There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.” 
    I thought my bed would have been warmed by the reassurances about the fire. But a bed doesn’t get warmed by death, does it? No. My room remained a mausoleum, as I had left it, and my bed still a tomb. But I climbed in, regardless of the stench of guilt, and forced myself to drift off and be dead to the world for just a few hours. I could always try for peace.

Chapters:   « Previous 1 2 3 Next »


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This book has 5 comments. Post your own now!

NaNa said...
May 14, 2016 at 4:32 am
You are amazingly wonderful & brilliant ! Love you Always!
 
ShortStory said...
Feb. 13, 2015 at 4:09 pm
You are extremely skilled at creating a suspenseful mood through vivid imagery and inner thoughts. You have created dynamic, multi-dimensional characters. Way to go!
 
DesmineRobinson said...
Feb. 8, 2015 at 5:13 pm
MY GOODNESS YOU HAVE GOOD VOCABULARY! YOU GO GIRL!
 
Lauryn M. replied...
Feb. 13, 2015 at 12:28 pm
Well, thank you, DesmineRobinson. I appreciate the recognition.
 
DesmineRobinson replied...
Feb. 14, 2015 at 9:32 pm
YOU ARE VERY VERY VERY WELCOME!!! As a fellow writer, I understand you, FULLheartedly.
 

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