The roaring flames ravaged the land, devouring the brush and raining from the raging trees, obliterating everything in its angry path, reducing it to ashes. The fire swept across fields and valleys, all efforts to vanquish it were futile as it grew stronger and fiercer, showing no mercy.
The fire killed.
Chapter One: New Day
Serafina's skin was burning. Her breathing was shallow as her eyes scorched and her dry throat stung savagely. She swallowed, the pressure thundering in her throat, aching for water.
She kicked the bed covers away and sat up, groaning at the thumping that terrorised her head. She was panting, boiling hot, and suffering from a headache, the same systems she had endured since moving from England to America two weeks ago.
Her mother blamed it on the change of scenery and way of life, her father assured her that she would get over it, but Serafina wasn't as confident in their theories. She dreamt while she slept, nightmares of fire plagued her, destroying her life, annihilating everything that she had held dear, everyone who had touched her heart in her short yet eventful fourteen years.
Serafina hadn't even suggested going to see a doctor. Her parents were much too preoccupied with decorating the house, something that her father had claimed was a bargain. Serafina could see why it had been so unreasonably cheap. The house was a mess. The walls were cracking, the carpets were filthy, the furniture was broken and there was a haunting stink of mildew. It was evident that. Although living breathing, creatures had infested the house nothing human had lived here for many years.
Serafina still wished that it had stayed that way.
The air around her was cool to her burning skin and she welcomed it, standing up and dancing through it as she tip toed to the bathroom, ignoring the light switch, the glow of the light outside strong enough to help her eyes but not irritate them. Her reflection was ghostly pale in the mirror of the medicine cabinet, her eyes as bright as stars but still feeling as dry as bone to her bemused body. She ran the tap and splashed cool water over her face, but it did little to relieve the heat. She drank deeply from a glass, the water thundering in her throat, refusing to satisfy her thirst. It was like she was quite literally being burned alive from the inside.
Serafina spat out the useless water and sighed, wishing for the thousandth time that her father's company had decided to keep him, and ultimately her, in England permanently, instead of sending them to this disgusting, unbearable hellhole and had depressed Serafina more than anything ever had, and she mused, ever could. This place was, quite simply, horrible.
With another disappointed and regretful sigh Serafina accepted the inevitable-another night of sleeplessness. The heat had failed to subside and she doubted that it would, only fading when the rays of sunlight touched the sky and banished the night for another day of never-ending sunshine and clear blue skies in a town she had come to loath, in such a short time. But tomorrow morning would be different and it would herald something new. It would be her first day at school, in an American high school with teenagers who had lived in the USA their entire lives and cared little for the world beyond it. Westcombe High was waiting for her.
Serafina crept across the dark landing and quietly closed her bedroom door. She collapsed on the bed, the breeze from the open window doing nothing to suppress the heat. She tossed and turned the night away, fretting out what the morning would bring.
He hated school. To him it seemed entirely pointless, a waste of time, a waste of space, a waste of energy. There were many better things that he could be doing, many of them not as innocent as 'school work'.
He was bitter and annoyed as he drove into the car park of Westcombe high, almost crashing into a kid on a bike. The kid turned to shout at the offender but one glare from Caleb closed his mouth. At least he still had power here. The summer months of separation from the students had not swayed his unofficial authority.
Caleb chose a spot right in front of the main school building. His shiny jag slipped in between two rusty cars and he stepped out, cursing at the sunlight as he slid on his sunglasses and pulled a pack of cigarettes out of the pocket of his trousers. He light one and smoked it, enjoying breaking the rules, knowing that the teachers were afraid to scold him. The smoke curled in his vision before the screen of his glasses, but through the haze of sunlight he first saw the girl.
She was small, slight and slender as if a gust of wind could knock her off her petite feet. Large, light blue eyes were staring worriedly at the school and tiny, delicate hands were fiddling idly with long, straight golden hair. Her new Nike rucksack was vibrant pink and her clothes followed the same trend, white leggings decorated with bright pink butterflies and a pale pink blouse. Dressed like that she reminded Caleb of strawberry ice cream.
Caleb took a last drag from his cigarette and threw the stub into the drain. He didn't bother locking the car, only people with suicidal tendencies would touch his car without permission, something he had never granted to any of the scum that roamed the halls of the school. The majority of imbeciles here he couldn't abide, the unworthy, arrogant, foolish sheep. And he had every confidence that the new girl would join their teeming flock.
With a sullen glance he saw that the girl had gone and his curiosity went with her. She was nothing to him. Just another one of them.
Just another girl.