|Another Day in Paradise
Author: Many Midnights PM
A woman struggles with a haunting feeling that something in her life is wrong.Rated: Fiction K - English - Horror - Words: 796 - Published: 01-29-12 - Status: Complete - id: 2992782
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Another Day in Paradise
Carolyn felt the time even though she hadn't looked at the alarm clock yet. Her body clock told her that her session of warm comfort and enticing dreams was nearing its end. A cold trip to the bathroom was what awaited her, and after that a redundant morning routine consisting of hair, makeup, a bad cup of coffee, and a boring ride in her 185,000-mile Toyota to her dead-end job. Lifting the fleece blanket off her body, she moaned as the dry chill of the darkened bedroom smoothly washed over her. Her skin prickled with goosebumps.
"Another day in paradise," she whispered to herself as she began to walk toward the bathroom.
In the kitchen, a sterile-looking newscaster droned on and on about the past day's events: a 747 crashed off the eastern coast, killing 69; the price of crude oil was expected to top $140 a barrel; a house fire in Wabash Valley claimed the life of a young woman; and the former governor (a sleaze named Ballentine) was preparing his latest defense against perjury charges.
Carolyn shook her head in disbelief. Nothing but bad news. It seemed the whole world was going to Hell. There'd be no need for a killer virus, or alien invasion, or doomsday asteroid. Mankind would be able to end the world all on its own.
Carolyn finished her cup of lukewarm coffee, did a quick glance into a hanging mirror, and shuffled out the door.
It was a warm day with hardly a cloud in the sky. It was enough to instill envious images of tanning on a beach or sitting outside a downtown café sipping a cold margarita into the work-weary minds of rat-race slaves. And Carolyn was no exception. She watched the beautiful landscape rush past the car's windows as she motored along.
Between adjusting the radio and an involuntary fluffing of her hair, something caught Carolyn's eye in her rearview mirror: smoke. Her eyes darted between the road in front of her and the swirling column of jet-black smoke behind her. It seemed to be coming from The Hill (a recent development project of lower scale housing).
And then a strange sensation overcame her. She tried to ignore it, but it was insistent.
She felt warm. Too warm. It was a thick feeling, suffocating almost, like standing next to a furnace that had just kicked on. Panic gripped her, and she immediately flipped on the A/C in a desperate attempt to cool down.
And then another feeling hit her, one of helplessness and resignation. She felt like a light switch being switched off. Or more accurately: like a dimmer switch, slowly, gradually sliding down until the light surrendered to darkness.
With each passing second, Carolyn lost more and more of herself to the unnatural feelings. Her car rolled to a noisy stop, gravel on the shoulder crunching under her tires as she tried to focus on the familiar scenery outside the windows. Her purse fell off the seat, and spilled most of its contents across the floor. She gazed down at her belongings in an objective stupor.
The first thing that caught her eye was her wallet. It was splayed open, revealing her driver's license. She always hated her picture on the card. And below her picture was her address: 7401 Marian in bold, black lettering.
Her mind raced with a million disoriented thoughts, but she couldn't grasp hardly any of them. She was feeling increasingly warm, and her will to live was slowly draining away.
7401 Marian? Where was that? Was that where she lived? Why couldn't she remember?
A glance in the rear-view mirror revealed the rising pillar of black smoke again. But now it was closer, only a few hundred yards behind her. She could smell it too, an acrid, charred stench with a hint of burning flesh mixed in.
Was the fire spreading?
No, it wasn't the blaze that was moving, it was her. She was steadily being drawn backward toward the inferno.
A peaceful revelation overcame her then, peaceful despite the dreadful realization that came with it.
7401 Marian was her address. It was where she lived. It was where she died.
A house fire in Wabash Valley claimed the life of a young woman.
Why hadn't she realized it before? She lived in Wabash Valley, a small, lower-scale house standing in The Hill development.
A house fire.
The fire that she couldn't escape. The fire that was pulling its own back into its deadly embrace. The fire that she had become a part of.
Carolyn closed her eyes as her car slid into the flames.