Playing with Fire
Flash! She couldn’t see. The light filled her whole frame of vision. It seemed to burn her from the inside out. She couldn’t breath. Amid the flames, a voice seemed to call to her.
“Lauren!” The voice seemed vaguely familiar. She released a rasping cough as she tried to call for help. The building shuddered beneath her. She heard a crash.
Another shout rang out. It seemed to be getting farther away. Then it disappeared entirely. The fire seemed to be growing dimmer.
Suddenly, she seemed to rise into the heat. She was being lifted up, pressed against something. Her eyes fluttered open to see an alien looking down at her. It placed something over her head and began moving. Lauren lacked the energy to be scared. She wanted the flames to snuff her out as she would the flame of a candle.
The heat seemed to grow more and more intense. Then in a moment, it was behind her, like a distant memory. Or not-so-distant-, she decided as a wave of heat rolled over her. Even that, though, was fading away.
Shouting assailed her ears. The alien lowered her to the ground. Soft grass brushed her cheek. Smells of warm summer evenings caressed her. Her sore eyes blinked open.
The alien, or fireman she now realized, was speaking to her frantic parents. Some dropped down beside her. Worried eyes floated over her. “Chris,” she mumbled with a raspy voice.
Her best friend was covered head to toe in soot. “What happened, Lauren? Where did go Bryce? I thought you were supposed to be on a date.” He looked over at his house next door. Firemen were pouring water on it to prevent it from catching fire as well. Her house was a total loss. “I was home when I noticed the flames. I ran over immediately and saw Bryce leaving. I went inside to find you, but . . .” He raised his hands in a helpless gesture.
I closed my eyes against the pain: The pain of the burns and the pain in my heart. “It was Bryce,” I rasped. “He set fire to the house with me inside. He said he’d gotten everything he’d wanted out of me.”