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|And Driel and Vahie get to save the two old ladies from a burning building... almost. End of Part One.||
Snatching the phone off it's holder by my bed, I swiftly dialed 911. I wasn't sure if that was the correct place to phone in a situation like this, but I didn't have time to look up something more suitable. A polite, calm voice answered me on the other end, though I don't remember what it said. I blurted out, "There's going to be a fire soon! Do you know where Ms. Paint and Ms. Access live?"
There was a long pause on the other end. Knowing what they were thinking, I hurried on, "This isn't a prank. There's going to be a fire and it's going to kill Ms. Paint and her housemate Ms. Access unless somebody does something soon!"
Apparently, I had gotten lucky in the person who had picked up the phone since they didn't hang up on me. "I'm not sure where they live, do you have any clues that will narrow it down so I can search?" I frantically thought back on my waking dream. "Umm, the houses have balconies, the roofs are covered in old, mossy tiles, they're a couple of old ladies living together, one just broke her leg, there's a whole bunch of back roads between them and the fire station, and a real flake lives next door. That's all I know to tell you." I could hear the lady on the other end repeating it to someone else in the room. Unable to stand still, I hopped off the bed and started pacing as best I could while holding a phone. The wait while the people on the other end seemed to take an exorbitantly long time, and by the time the voice appeared on the other end, I was twitching.
"I found where they live, and we'll be dispatching a fire truck as soon as we get a more reliable call. Thank you for the warning." She hung up, leaving me gaping at the phone and the idiocy of the people on the other end. Wanting nothing more than to scream in frustration, I made a split second decision to kill the fire department sometime later and go stop the burning myself. They were obviously incompetent and didn't deserve my help anyway.
Flying down the stairs, I shouted something to Mom about me having to go somewhere as I careened out the door. I retained enough presence of mind to remember that the area of town where this had happened was awfully far away and snatched my bike. Burn those idiotic, useless, ignore the seeress people at the fire station! I didn't want to be a bloody hero! Screeching down the driveway and bolting down the side street I lived on, I pedaled as hard as I could, hoping and praying to whatever deity that was listening that I wouldn't be too tired when I got there.
I wasn't even half way there when my strength started to falter. I wished I could slow down, but I knew that was out of the question, especially when lives were hanging on the balance. The only blessing was that I would get there faster than the fire trucks could have since I could take paths they couldn't. I didn't have time to weaken, I needed to press on. I needed to arrive there yesterday.
I was so focused on pedaling as hard and fast as I could, that I didn't notice when another person on a bike pulled up along side me. The figure didn't say anything, presumably focusing on keeping speed with me. "I'm not racing you," I gasped out between ragged breaths. "This is important."
"I know you aren't, and I know that it is," she said, and I nearly fell of my bike in shock. What on Earth was Vahie doing here? God help me, did she know everything? She must, to have appeared in typical Vahie fashion - without my conscious notice - right when I could have used her help. The woman was worse than Sarnor for always being there, though in this case, I didn't mind. Maybe she'd be able to help get Ms. Paint and Ms. Access out of their burning house. The building was surely on fire, since so much time had been wasted talking to the idiotic people at the fire station, and then biking all the way across town to get to the house. There was no chance that I'd get there before the house caught. And, sadly, the chances of catching the arson - it had to be an arson, I'd be shocked if it wasn't - were now nothing to nil.
We were nearly there when I felt a sudden shift in the back of my mind. Don't ask me how I knew, or where that sudden shift had come from, but I knew instantly that I was too late. Too late to stop the arson, anyway. There was still a chance to save the two ladies, if only I hadn't spent so much time waiting for the idiots at the fire station. And it was just my luck that when I finally had something to phone the fire station with, I was too far away from a phone to be any good and couldn't waste the time phoning them anyway. And I knew from experience that no one else would in time. That cruel goddess of irony that was watching me must be dying of laughter right about now. She seemed to do that around me frequently. Why did I have to be watched over by the fictitious, cruel goddess of irony? Who had decided that I was to be her experiment anyway?
Rounding the final bend, I threw out my distracted thoughts and finally let out the shriek that I had stifled so many times. The fire was already on the roof, just as I had seen it in my waking dream vision. I needed to be swift to get the two ladies out. Whatever happened, I didn't think I could live with two lives on my conscience, knowing that I could have saved them but hadn't even tried.
"Vahie, I know..." I started to tell my friend, jumping off my bike and dropping it on the grass, but she cut me off softly, "I know. I'll help. That's why I'm here." Not even stopping to ponder what she might mean by that, I just nodded and sprinted up to the front door. Knowing that neither lady home was in any position to answer me, I opened the door and ran in, coughing in the smoke that filled the room and dropping to my hands and knees. I didn't know where I was going, exactly, but I trusted what ever prescience that had guided me here would tell me where to go, and sure enough, I crawled up the stairs as fast as I could without stopping to decide where to go, Vahie following closely. I realize now that I was crazy to go into a burning house without any protective gear on or any idea of what to do, but I would do the same thing if I had to live that over again. There are just some things you do, no matter what the consequences may be. And for me, the consequences were very high.
It only took me a moment to find Ms. Paint and Ms. Access. Ms. Access was already unconscious from the smoke, but Ms. Paint was still hanging on to consciousness. She was terrified, plainly, and immediately demanded in a shrill voice who we were. Straight away after she said that, however, she rescinded her question and threw off the blankets, preparing for me to drag her off the bed. I crawled closer to her and, at my coughing request, she slid off the bed and draped herself over my back. Vahie had meanwhile pulled Ms. Access off her chair and draped that old lady across her back. Gesturing for Vahie to go first with her load, I followed the dark haired girl out of the bedroom as the flames discovered it. One entire side of the house must have been burning, and it was only sheer luck that Ms. Paint's bedroom was on the side that wasn't. All my rushing would have been for nothing if they had decided to stay in Ms. Access' room for the day.
As I got nearer the front door, I could hear the roof creaking alarmingly. I didn't know much about burning houses, but I think I'd had read once that when the roof creaks, it's about to fall in. My lungs were also burning from the strain of biking here so quickly, and then crawling through the smoke with a weight on my back. Thankfully, Ms. Paint had been a patient, unobtrusive passenger, save for the dead weight laying across me.
Stopping for a moment, I hacked up a glob of red goo that I was sure wasn't good for me. "Only a little while longer," I told Ms. Paint, struggling the last few feet towards the door. I could no longer see Vahie and her passenger, though whether that was due to the increased smoke, her escape from this death-ridden house or my dimming eye sight I wasn't sure.
"Can you... crawl?" I gasped at Ms. Paint. Her answer, while affirmative, was not encouraging. "I'm going to throw you towards the door. I can't carry you much longer. Crawl out and don't worry about me, I'll be right behind you." Feeling stupidly like one of the suicidal heroes in idiotic novels, I dragged Ms. Paint over my shoulder and gave her a shove. She didn't go very far, but it was far enough. The weight off my shoulder made me sag in relief, and I forced myself closer to the door as the roof gave another terrifying creak.
Trying my best not to breathe or die from lack of oxygen, I crept a little closer to the open, glowing doorway that represented the outside. I was going to make it, I was going to make it, I was going to make it, I wasn't going to make it.
With a final groan, the fragmented timbers finally gave out. A thunderous crash sounded as the roof hit the attic floor, followed by another deafening sound as the roof and attic hit the second story floor. I knew what was coming next, and was terrified of it. I had already escaped death once because of my waking dreams, and now my waking dreams had led me somewhere where death seemed inevitable.
The moment stretched into eternity. Magically, the ceiling seemed to hold longer than physically possible, giving me time for a last two, faltering, forced movements out of my exhausted body.
Screaming in frustration, I collapsed on the floor. I thought I could hear a siren wail in the distance through the roaring in my ears. It appeared that the fire trucks would come late, as I had known they would in my waking dream. Why hadn't the people at the fire station listened to me? They could have stopped this if they had only acted sooner.
Finally, that miraculous moment stretched to its end. With a final, booming crash, the roof, attic and second story hit the ceiling above me. Rolling over onto my back, I could only stare in horror as the great, flaming mass of wood dropped towards me. The last coherent thought I had was wondering where Vahie was right about now, when I really needed her, before the fiery roof dropped on me.
|How the Mighty do Fall: Fire in the Sky||Waking Dreams: Chapter Fourteen|
|Waking Dreams: Chapter Seven||Waking Dreams: Chapter Four|
|Waking Dreams: Chapter Sixteen||Goddess' Chosen|