People never really pay attention to the droning safety procedures of fire protocol, knowing or rather believing that nothing will ever strike them in the strangest of times and the most terrifying of circumstances. I was one of those people.
Sniffing. That’s how I woke up. Sniffing the congesting, clogging, claustrophobic, viscous blanket that poured its way through my respiratory tracts. With a painful burst of clarity, as the dry heat in the room burned up the walls and seared my skin, an ethereal shimmer tainted the solid enclosure that was my room, I knew. There was no grogginess, no sluggishness, only fear. Knowing I had only minutes to get out of this hell trap, I forewent the panic and scrambled in the midst of a mental chaos to recollect the basics of fire procedure, knowing that through no fault of anyone’s but mine, I might cease to exist on this night.
Trickles of information seemed to make a presence in the smoky depths of my mind. Feel the door with the back-? or was it the front of the hand to check if it was warm? To ascertain the proximity of the flames; whether it was waiting like Hades on the other side of that door, or far enough for you to try and make a break for it without making eye contact. Back, I decided hopefully as I stretched a hesitating limb towards the barrier.
The heat that emanated from the door to my hand, near cooked its flesh within an inch of the bone. A profanity that escaped tightly pursed lips was lost in the all-consuming, permeating roar of the inferno that wreaked havoc in the once peaceful, sanctity of my home. Outside the confinement of the chamber, I could only imagine the antagonistic power the fiery reds and oranges held as they obliterated my entire life’s worth of memories and souvenirs in a single devastating event.
It’s amazing what desperation can draw from you in the darkest of hours, my mind seemed to have opened numerous other thinking chambers and capacities to permit me to questioning everything; including why in blazes (no pun intended) did we, the human race, have to let our guard down every single night in order to function the next day which allowed things like this to happen in presence of mental absence, while simultaneously coming up with and eliminating methods of survival, as well as reprimanding the higher powers for any hand they might have had in this cataclysmic end, admonishing them for simply sanctioning the existence of fire, chastising them for allowing the earliest of our ancestors to conceive this deathly threat in the first place and for not helping me now in my most dire hour of need, leaving me to fend for myself in the inescapable doom I seemed to face.
Sweat beaded at my forehead and pooled at every bodily crevice in the steadily sweltering heat that rose in the sealed pot of my bedroom, plastering unruly bed head into damp streaks across my face, and soaking through my clothes. Why could no one see the building on fire, why did no one come to help me?
Ideas of escape and salvation zoomed past me, the barred windows I thought would stop intruders getting in, seemed only to serve in keeping me from getting out. I couldn’t bear to look in to the cool outdoor air that seemed to mock me in silent laughter and so, with my back to the window, I faced the smouldering, shut door as flames licked the edges and danced around the frame, encroaching upon the already searing, sizzling air that encapsulated me within the prison of these walls; my head, at the point of bursting, slowly created for itself a sanctuary of a cool, black cloak within it, and I could feel myself trying to grasp it and cover me with it’s cool, tranquillity as I faded in to unconsciousness; anything was better than the pounding, saturating burn of imprisonment within a blazing ember.
Had I looked out the window I could have felt hope for smallest of moments, as flashing, pulsating red and blue lights turned into the end of the street, willing myself not to perish when help was so near at hand.
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