flash fiction by Rob Adams asm0dous
Maggie stared wide-eyed and almost trance-like into the hungry inferno approaching her quiet rustic cottage. She could make out shapes in the smoke moving hurriedly toward the opposite direction of the fire. Others ran screaming in unimaginable horror at the devastation caused as their houses and everything they owned in them burned like so much kindling. The smoke from the fire almost blocked out the sun, but still she couldn’t tear her gaze off the three men in the distance, large white backpacks with clear plastic-like hoses attached to them spewing out the chemicals in fiery bursts into the undergrowth. It wasn’t that she was surprised the son’s of bitches set the flames in the first place, after all this was all about collecting on insurance premiums so they said. Still, the company could have at least warned this community before beginning their destructive cleansing. The fire raged on, spitting a tree in half and causing it to come crashing down onto her shiny new Lexus. Still, she did not move. The wrestling flames choking the trees with their death brought her back to a more peaceful time, a time before the Arsonists began plaguing the country.
“Get over there and give your grandfather a hug” the elderly woman with bright shiny glasses said warmly to the young blonde pony tailed girl. The girl rushed into the arms of a well dressed man who delightfully picks up his grandchild, Maggie. “Where have you been young lady? I’ve got a mind to keep you up here so you cannot run off again.” Maggie giggled “No, grandpa. I won’t…” Her protests are drowned out by a torrent of laughter and giggling.
Suddenly a man wearing a black suit flanked by several other men in hazmat suits carrying white backpacks bursts through the front door. “Aldolphus, I see that you are with your family. I would hate to have to make them see your final moments. Come with me and we can get this over without the little one seeing it.” Aldolphus rushes towards the rear of the home, reaches into a filing cabinet and produces a large caliber handgun.
“Get the hell out of my house Michael, you bastard!” Aldolphus threatens. Michael laughs as his wicked smile shows perfectly white teeth “Burn the place to the ground” Micheal then turns around and walks out the door. Aldolphus fires off three shots in Micheals back causing the old man to loose balance and fall before being blasted by a flame that very quickly engulfs the whole house with an eerie red light. Covered with fire and attempting to shed his clothes Aldolphus is shot twice by a pistol from one of the men with the gun “Grandpa!” Maggie yells, running over to his side. Aldolphus, through painful expression looks at his granddaughter and whispers in her ear “The reason for it all is life.” He collapses dead on the floor, his granddaughter and wife sobbing uncontrollably next to him.
Red lights flash rhythmically in the distance as sires roar and a fire hose brings Maggie back to her senses, drenching her in a deluge of water. “Are you alright Ma’am?” Asks one of the firemen “Your entire body was on fire and I was not sure why because the flames were outside of your house.” Maggie manages a half-hearted smile “Yeah, I’ll live. Thanks sugar.” After a round of questions from the fire marshal and a quick ride to the hospital later Maggie finds herself once again the owner of nothing finding herself mulling over questions she has asked before to herself. “Will these bastards ever stop? What was it her grandfather was trying to tell her in those last breaths? “
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