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from Aradia's Diaspora by Susan Woerner

Copyright © 2018–2020 Susan Woerner

Scene 6

I was through the door and outside, coughing some from the smoke. Turning around I saw that the inside of the building was on fire. I couldn’t believe how fast it had spread. From the open doorway, I saw the flames start to creep up the side of the building. Looking further up I could see that flames had gotten to the second floor, lighting the windows from inside. This fire was moving fast - faster than I had imagined a fire could ever eat through all the wood and paper inside. I had to move back as the flames jetted out and up the building. I guess I was so in shock that I didn’t remember until that minute that I needed to start shouting for help. Then I thought about how close I parked my car to the building and realized my keys, along with my ID was in the satchel. Burning or burnt to a crisp by now. I ran around to the side to see if my car might go unscathed.

But there was no car. They must have towed it. No, wait. There isn’t any parking lot. Now enough of the building was on fire that I would see several hundred yards around it as if someone had turned on the lights at a football stadium. There were no close buildings yet I was sure that there were several buildings – this was an urban city, everything is close together. Stepping away from the heat and light, I could see that there were no streetlights, no cars rolling along the street. Uh. No street. The ground beneath my feet was rough grasses and rocks scattered about.

“Help!” I shouted as loud as I could. I cupped my hands around my mouth and shouted a second time. I ran to the front of the building, now completely engulfed in fire. It was hot and bright. I couldn’t see the structure at all any longer, just a bulging, singular flame like a candle. The flames were shooting so high that I couldn’t tip my head back far enough to see sparks. The air was full of ash snowflakes, landing on everything including me. I rubbed at my eyes as smoke began to reach out, having a wind come up behind the hill. That’s when I heard shouting from several sides. People were coming up the hill, I could see their faces as they approached. Many shielded their eyes.

They shouted back down the hill but the roar of the fire was so loud I couldn’t hear. Some came with wooden buckets, sloshing water as they ran. They stared at the flames, listening to the...

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