To the sound of the air brakes something catches my eye.
“Mike, I see something,” I whisper.
I point to the second floor. “Up there in the window.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I saw something.”
Mike turns the steering wheel and parks the fire truck on the edge of the road. He then looks up at the second floor window. “There’s too much smoke.”
I look again. “I swear I saw something.” I tighten the straps on my air pack, open the passenger door and jump off Engine 13.
“Fidel, wait for backup,” Mike says.
“There could be someone in there.” I walk toward the old abandoned home.
“Don’t go inside. It’s just you and me, remember?”
I look up at the abandoned house as black smoke covers the bright moon.
Mike steps off the fire truck. “Wait for Engine 7. They’ll be here soon.”
Ignoring Mike, I make it to the porch, take a deep breath, and slowly push open the front door. I walk into a cold, dark, smoky house. “Hello is anyone in here?” I then crouch, trying to breathe, moving cautiously, looking for any signs of fire, but the smoke is too thick. I panic, lose my sense of direction and bump into a staircase. “Is anyone up there?”
I cough, pushing smoke out of my lungs, about to run out the front door, when I hear heavy footsteps above on the second floor. “Hello!” I shout, hearing footsteps again. “I’m a firefighter, and I’m here to help!” There is silence. I then think of Julia and how proud she would be if I saved a life from a burning building. I surely would make the front page of the newspaper. I hear a thump, and with what courage I have left, I run up the stairs, stumble, and fall to the floor. I stand up, when I see a glimmering light coming from underneath a door at the end of a hallway. “Hello, it’s the fire department!”
Curious, I creep up to the door. As I push it open, I’m blinded by a small flickering light coming from the corner of the room. I walk in while the light starts to take shape. My mouth drops, I’m about to run away, when small flames burst out from the flickering light, leaping toward the walls, reaching the ceiling, and rolling over each other like dancing angels.
I step back, and slowly the flickering light disappears, leaving a dark shadow lurking in the corner of the room. I move away as the rolling flames from the ceiling start to fall on the floor. I reach for the exit, but several flames jump from the ceiling to the door, forcing me to the center of the room. I stumble, trying to catch my balance but hit the floor, twisting my ankle. The flames surround me in a ring of fire as I realize what the dark shadow is.
“Get away from me,” I mumble.
I hear a deep growl.
“Get away,” I insist.
As the room becomes engulfed in flames the dark shadow moves away from the corner of the room.
“What do you want?” I ask.
In a whispering voice the dark shadow replies, “You.”
I panic and force myself against the ring of fire. “No,” I cry.
“Then you will burn to death.”
“I can save you.”
“Then save me,” I beg.
“Tell me that I can have your soul.”
I push up my shield from my helmet, staring into his eyes.
“What are you waiting for? Speak the words before you burn,” he insists.
I think of Julia, my sister, mother, and then I shout, “I don’t want to die.”
“Then say it before it is too late,” he whispers.
I’m about to utter the words when the floor starts to crack. The dark shadow moves frantically around the room. Suddenly the floor inside the ring of fire starts to cave in. I cover my head and fall through, landing on a table on the first floor. I roll over and crawl toward the exit. I look behind me as the dark shadow falls on the table, spreading fire everywhere.
“Get back here,” he demands.
As the dark shadow is about to grab me, I close my eyes, but instead of death, cool water splashes against my face. I look up, and it is Mike with the fire hose.
“Hurry up!” he yells, spraying water at me.
I crawl to the front door.
“Hurry,” he says.
I reach the door and Mike drops the fire hose, pulling me out of the house. We stumble to the street.
“Are you okay?” Mike asks.
“Did you see that?”
I am hesitant to answer.
“I saw fire and smoke,” he says.
I grasp his bunker jacket and glare into his eyes.
“Are you okay?” he asks.
I’m about to tell him what I saw, but I know he won’t believe me. He will laugh, think I’m crazy, and make fun of me in front of the other firefighters because they already hate me.
“Well?” he insists. “You look like you saw a ghost.”
I let go of his jacket and fall to the curb. “There was nothing in there,” I mumble.
“I told you. I can’t wait to tell the guys that I saved your skinny ass.”
I pull my helmet off and unbutton by bunker jacket, thinking I almost gave my soul away.
“Fidel, you’re lucky you’re alive,” Mike says.
We both look up to the crackling sound of the burning abandoned house. Engine 7 arrives.