A Fate Sealed By Fire


Off in the distance I could see fiery orange and red flames racing towards the sky. Thick, heavy smoke poured out of the chimney and shattered windows like water from a broken dam. Something about the entire scene gripped my heart by its roots and yanked relentlessly until it came free; the flames that engulfed the house seemed to reach out and grab me, pulling me forward until I was standing right outside of the 6-foot wooden picket fence that guarded the house. Despite the close proximity of the burning house and the wooden fence, the fence remained untouched by the searing, flesh-burning flames. I peeked through the small space between the wooden spikes. My heart sped up faster than it had ever done before, as if I was on an operating table and doctors were trying to restart my heart. My breath caught in my throat and it seemed as if my oxygen supply was completely cut off. My brain whirled with confusion and the lack of oxygen.

I rested my head against the wood, waiting for the fog to pass, and the second it lifted I slammed through the gate. The wood didn't give as easily as it should have, being that close to the disastrous flames. I stumbled into the front yard. There was a large, in-ground pool with a few small lawn chairs scattered around it. The blinding light from the flames reflected in the pool caught my attention, and I was instantly drawn to it; like a moth to a flame. I kneeled down at the edge, trailing my fingers through the water causing small ripples to roll through it and another wave of unidentifiable emotions crashed over me, so violent and strong it knocked me over, headfirst into the murky water.

Water splashed up violently around me and hands seemed to reach out from the darkness below, grabbing at me and quickly yanking me down. My vision blurred as the chlorine, heavily laced with algae and bacteria shrouded my vision. I thrashed wildly around, trying to escape from my captors and failing miserably, becoming quickly entangled in forceful hands and being wrenched down even faster; sinking like a cement block. My brain was overcome with a thick, foggy, sleepy haze and I slowly lost my hold on consciousness; bit by bit. I wanted so badly to give in to the deep sleep softly calling my name, but then I remembered the house; the monstrous flames, the shards of some haunted memory slowly finding its way back to me. I opened my eyes and almost instantly regretted it, but fought through the murky green and black haze. Now what I didn't understand was how in the hell was I still alive? I'd been under for who knows how long, shouldn't I be dead right now? My abductors were nowhere to be seen, but then again, in this water, I couldn't even see an inch in front of me. The water seemed to stir and voices floated towards me like radio waves. I looked up, not really expecting to see anything, but a part in the water cleared; almost like a window and I could see two people standing at the edge of the pool looking down; their images were distorted by the small ripples rolling through the water. Can they see me? Why are they just standing there?

I pushed off from the bottom of the pool, hard. The green muck was hard to swim through; it was thick and slowed me down; as if they were trying to pull me back down again. I swam harder. The sunlight started to break through and my lungs, for the first time, started to burn, my heart pounding as if a thick rope binding it had been cut.

I broke through to the surface, the light blinding and the oxygen totally brutal. I gasped for air and clawed for the side of the pool. I climbed up on the hot grass and fell on my back; feeling like a soggy, drowned animal. Several desperate gasps later and the oxygen still refused to come. The world whirled before my eyes and a sudden dizziness overcame me, I rolled over on my stomach and hurled everything that there was to get rid of. Then, the world went black.

I felt someone tap my shoulder, call my name. Then again, an insistent tapping on my shoulder, a hurried whisper of my name. Then they became more insistent, more desperate, shaking me, yelling my name. "Hurry! Get up! They're coming for us! Please, wake up; you gotta wake up now! Come on!" I shook my head and stood up, dizzy and water-logged. I looked around, I was in a forest, and there was a young girl; or is it a boy? They were standing by the base of tree and they were so nervous and scared they seemed to be hopping from one foot to the other; their feet itching to run. Their eyes were filled with an unknown fear, like nothing I've ever seen before. Their back hunched like a caged animal, shaking uncontrollably; pointing upwards- at the sky. "Oh no, no, no, no, NOOO! Omigod, their coming, they've found us, we gotta go, NOW! Run!" She (he?) didn't wait to see if I'd follow but bolted at a dead run, as if their life depended on it. I didn't know who this person was, or what we were running from; but all in my entire life I've never seen a fear as raw or deep or desperate as what I just saw in her eyes, I followed in hot pursuit- I don't wanna die.

My heart beat faster and faster and I tried to keep from looking over my shoulder. The tree roots reached out and grabbed at my ankles, the ravens swooped down on me swallowing me up like a starving lion, and the flames chased me, quickly matching my speed.

Every second I wasted looking back, was a second of my life wasted.

I'm not sure how long I was out, maybe five minutes, or maybe an hour; but I do know what woke me up: a heat wave so intense that I thought I was in the Sahara. It took me a while to remember where I was but when I did I jumped up so fast I about fell over again. Looking up, I was just completely stunned, the house was still flaming high and holy but it wasn't burned to the ground like it should have been. The frame was completely intact; there were no floating ashes anywhere. It was as if the house was un-burnable.

I started walking towards the house after I regained my balance. Every step should have brought me closer to a painful, fiery death, instead, it seemed like I was un-burnable; the flames had no effect on me whatsoever. I walked up the porch steps carefully, testing each one before putting my full weight on them; I was surprised when I made it to the front door without falling through the porch. The door wasn't open or busted off its hinges; it opened just like a door normally would. The minute I stepped over the threshold a wave of familiarity and a sense of brokenness and loss washed over me. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but it was there, like a name without a face, it was there. The inside of the house was untouched by the flames; everything was in its original composition. I didn't stop to check everything out but headed straight for the staircase; a nice, even oak with a good clean finish. At the top of the stairs was a large room with a 5-ft wrap-around window. There was a queen sized bed against the back wall, completely made with the blankets folded back and directly in front of it on the opposite side of the room was a small, black desk. I walked slowly around the bed and over to the desk, on top of it was a small, silver ring shaped like twisted barbed wire with a heart in the middle- as if it were connecting the two sides. I picked it up and turned it over, twisting it between my thumb and forefinger. I wandered back to the bed and sat on the edge of it, still holding the ring. At that instant, it all came back to me; all of it; hitting me like a pile of heavy-duty bricks. My boyfriend, our first night in our new house, the proposal, and then, the fire- the night it started; the night he disappeared.