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Wildfires (Part 1)

by Rosewood


CRACK

I sit up in my bed, startled by the loud sound just near the foot of my bed. It sounded like something hit the window, but I could easily be wrong. Out of habit, my eyes attempt to focus on the illuminated numbers on my clock. 1:03

Too early for a bird, maybe a bat?

A deep-throated groan escapes me and I pull myself from the warmth of my bedsheets, only to peek through the curtains. Squinting in the darkness, I can just make out the trees in the distance and the sheet of rain falling from the sky. The dark sky and water droplets covering the glass is making it hard to see anything at all. I don't even notice the small, circular object until it hits the window where my face is pressed against it.

A small cry comes out from my mouth as the window shakes violently. I pull back my face gripping my aching nose. Now I know what hit my window.

I pull open the window and duck my head out, effectively drenching my hair and sending cold torrents of water into my eyes and mouth.

"Arris! Is that you? What are you doing?"

I finally see her dim figure when she waves her hands to grab my attention. She starts shouting at me, but I can't quite make out her words. Eventually, she gets that the rain is drowning out her voice and indicates to my front door.

She wants me to let her in? Now?

My parents would not be happy if they found out I let someone from the opposite gender into my room in the middle of the night, despite whatever valid reasons I have, so I'm a little leery on the idea. But then again, Arris is my friend, and she wouldn't be here if it wasn't important.

I pick up the shirt from the day before and pull it on to complete the jeans I slept in. On my way downstairs, I check to make sure my parents' door is shut nice and tight. They're heavy sleepers, but who knows? Maybe Mom will get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. I'm hoping their squeaky door will serve as enough warning.

When I carefully open the front door, I'm shocked to see Arris in pajamas, protected only by a thin scarf limply hanging from her neck.

"Felix," she tells me, her voice surprisingly weak, "I didn't know who to go to. You're going to think I'm crazy."

Eyes wide, I begin to notice her more clearly. Her usually smooth brown hair is mangy and wet and her bright eyes are bloodshot, wide with fear with wild, dark bags draped under them. She's quivering and taking in breaths too suddenly. And her bare feet are practically blue. Something's very wrong.

"Come in, but be quiet. You can tell me what's going on when we get to my room."

"I c-can't c-come in..."

"Arris, it's raining. You need to get inside."

My voice is thick and emotionless from sleep, but inside I'm terrified. She protests, but they're hardly above a whisper. Eventually, she slips inside, sighing at the warmth.

I offer to lead her to up my room, but she won't let me even touch her shoulder. I wonder if she's been hurt. Possibly kidnapped? The wild look in her eyes, fringed with red, has me thinking she's been drugged.

"Should I get my parents?"

She stiffens at the words and grabs my arm. Her hands, which should be freezing, are almost too hot on my skin.

"No."

I nod, trying to seem like I understand. "Look, just- let's go up to my room."

She bobs her head and slouches, practically dragging her feet up the familiar path to my room.

When I give her a spot on my bed and a towel, she explains, or at least tries to.

"My hands, they've been hurting, blistering. Around twelve... it... finally happened."

"What?"

"They caught fire."

I squint at her. What's that supposed to mean?

"Did you... burn yourself?"

"No. I-I don't know how to explain it. They just... lit up."

My eyes travel to her hands tucked between her thighs. Timidly, she shows me them, free of any burns.

"You said they were blistering?"

Drugs seem to be the obvious answer, but we're fourteen, and she's an honor student. Why would she do something like that?

"I know! It's just so hard to explain. It felt like they were on fire... and then they were."

"Arris, I need to get my parents. You need to get to a hospital." 

I reach for her wrists but she flinches back, disgust and horror present on her face. "Don't touch me! I'm fine!"

"No, you're not."

"No," the words are barely a whisper, "They'll find out."

"Find out what?"

"I burnt my house down."

I let out a small breath. Speechless, I step back and try to pass it off as stress. I don't think she believes it.

"But... you love your family?"

"I did, I mean- I do! I don't think they made it out." She bites her lip and a few tears slip out of her eyes. "You don't believe it was an accident, do you? You think I'm crazy."

I shake my head. "No... no. Why- why did you burn your house down?"

"Fine," she stands up, barely holding her weight, "You don't understand and you never will. I'll leave so you're not associated with me."

I grip her forearm, wincing at the strange heat from it. "Don't go. Explain, or try to. What's wrong with your hands?"

She lets out a tense breath and glances at my closed door. "Alright. You can't interfere, I don't want you to get hurt."

I nod and step away from her. What is she trying to say? That she really can light her hands on fire? I consider making a noise loud enough to wake my parents. Sure, they'll be angry with me, but at least Arris will get help. I wonder if her parents know she's gone.

Arris raises her hand and cups them together. Concentrating I watch her grit her teeth. Out of curiosity, I creep forward and peer into them.

Sparks.

That's what is forming in her hands.

They drift around the room like fireflies, disappearing as quickly as they were lit. One bobs around my head and a part of me wonders what would happen if I reached out for it. Suddenly, it, and the others, wink out in unison.

"Look."

At the center of her hands, a small blossom of fire grows. It sways to a nonexistent wind and glows with an unusual intensity. She's controlling it certainly, as if it is responding to words only they can hear. She clasps her hands together and the flame is suffocated. Small tendrils of smoke drift up from her fingers, proof I wasn't imagining it.

"I've never lied, and I never will." She promises me, her eyes staring into mine with a blazing intensity.

"How?"

She collapses onto my bed, careful to keep her hands from any of its very flammable fabric. "Honestly? I don't know."

I rub my eyes. "What are you going to do?"

"I don't know."

I pause, considering the plan forming in my head. A small smile climbs up the side of my face.

"Why are you grinning?"

I grab her wrists, which are almost too painful to bear. "Let's run away."

"What? No way!" She easily pulls her wrists from my grip.

"Why not? You're a freak, and I'm your friend. They'll come after me too!"

She glares at me. "No one saw me set the house on fire."

"You don't know that. What if one of your neighbors saw an uninjured girl walking away from the scene of fire? You certainly didn't call the police."

Arris flops backward onto the bed. "Fine. Let's say we ran away. Where to go?"

"You know that building? The one everyone at school claims homeless people live? We'll go there. I'm sure they'll want someone who can make fire!"

She nods, considering the idea. A playful smile spreads out onto her face. "Yeah... let's do it. What do we have to lose?"

I nod, reaching for my backpack. "Until we can get you more clothes, I've got some you can use. We can leave tonight."

"I agree. Besides, the rain makes my hands feel better."

We spend some time gathering a few necessities and perfecting the details of our plan. By the end, I'm shivering with excitement.

We silently make our way down the stairs and to the front door. I reach for the doorknob.

CREAK

We freeze. I hear Arris' sharp inhales and face her. Her fearful eyes perfectly mirror mine. I look to the dark stairway, expecting a figure to see us. To stop us.

"Was that the house settling?" Arris ventures.

"I don't know..."

We wait for any sound, straining our ears for something we don't know exists. I hear a small cry.

"It's... my baby sister."

Arris relaxes and a cocky smile spreads across her face. "We're good then, let's go."

I don't make an effort to move my hand.

"Did you hear me? We're safe."

I shake my head. This is wrong. "Do you miss your family?"

Her face scrunches up in confusion. "What do you mean?"

"Do you even care that they might be dead because of you?"

"Of course I do. Can we talk about this later?"

"My family... my baby sister... it would break their hearts if I left. I didn't even leave a note."

"So? We'll find a way to let them know you're fine soon."

I shake my head. "Don't you get it? I don't think I can go. I'm... I'm sorry."

She's speechless. I slide the backpack off my shoulders and hand it to her. "Take it, you need it more than I do."

"You're staying?"

"Look, Arris, I'm-"

"No," her eyes are blazing, "No, you have to come with me. I can't survive on my own. This was your idea!"

I finally open the door with my free hand. "I'm sorry! Really! But I can't go."

She takes the backpack from my hand and I watch as small fires race up it from where her vice-like grip on it is. She doesn't even notice.

"You'd let me die... for them?"

I shake my head. "You're sick, Arris, you need help."

"No, I'm not. I'm the hero in this story."

"Hero? What are you even talking about?"

"You're the villain." The fire engulfs the backpack completely and a spark hits the doorframe. A new fire is born.

"Stop it! You need to stop! My house!"

"I don't care. You don't care, so I won't. Come with me, and you'll see. We'll be heroes."

"Heroes? You're crazy! Stop!"

I look up, watching the fire grow. I couch as a thick cloud of smoke swirls around my head. The heat is getting too hot but I can't seem to move my feet. Why isn't the fire alarm going off? Why aren't my parents coming?

Through a thick cloud of smoke, I see the figure of her. Her eyes are like an inferno. She stretches a hand out to my, alight with flames.

"Take my hand, I don't want to be alone."

My head swirls and I lose my balance. My skin is burning. Blistering. Melting.

"Felix! I don't want want to be alone! Please!"

I can't breathe. I can't breathe. I can't breathe.

"Please, take my hand!"

I'm going to die.

"Take my hand!"

I'm going to die.

"Kid, take my hand!"

I'm going to die.

Someone lifts me from the ashes and carries me from my prison.

Am I going to die?

Red lights swirl around my vision. I'm in someone's arms, and they swaying motion is making me sick. The rain splatters over me, washing the ash from my eyes. A mask is strapped around my mouth. Cool, sweet, oxygen is forced into my lungs. A hand, my mother's hand wraps around my own. It's cool, much too cool, on my painful skin.

"Baby? Felix? Can you hear me?" 

I moan, and she cries in relief.

"Felix, you're safe. Your father and sister are in another ambulance, we're on the way to the hospital. You're, we're, going to be okay."

"Mom?" My voice is raspy, my throat burns with the effort.

"Hush, don't speak."

"Where's... Arris?"

"Arris?" She's confused. "What are you talking about?"


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Mon Sep 14, 2020 1:47 pm
RadDog13579 wrote a review...



Hi @Rosewood, RadDog here to review your story today.
First Impressions: I really like how it almost felt like a superhero origin story. I like the mysterious aspect and the ending was phenomenal.

I don't have any specific things to criticize but a few broad edits. I think that there were some very drastic mood changes going on in the story. I get that Arris doesn't like her parents but I think she could have some emotion towards there death. Also, she comes to terms with her powers rather quickly in a way that it doesn't feel real.

"I shake my head. "You're sick, Arris, you need help."

"No, I'm not. I'm the hero in this story."

"Hero? What are you even talking about?"

"You're the villain." The fire engulfs the backpack completely and a spark hits the doorframe. A new fire is born."


This is a very big leap. Felix goes from being a best friend to calling her sick. I would maybe try to put some thought process here.

Overall this is a great story that could grow into something bigger. I see you have a second part so I'll go read that next. This is really an amazing story and I hope you continue to add to the world. That's all from me, happy writing!




Rosewood says...


Thank you for the feedback! I've seen that people agree that he jumps to conclusions too quickly, and I will consider editing it. If you wan to hear my thought process, check out my response to MoonIris and Stormblessed242's reviews. I hope that clears it up a little!



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Sun Sep 13, 2020 4:43 pm
MoonIris wrote a review...



Hi Rosewood,
I'm here with a review. You have a lovely story but there are a phew things I would like to point out.
Let's start with grammar.
" the the illuminated numbers on "
Here you shouldn't have twice the.
"Eventually she gets that the rain is drowning"
Here I think adding a comma after "eventually", will make it sound better.
"protected only by thin scarf "
It should be a thin scarf.
"I offer lead her to up my room,"
After offer you should add an article. I would put to.
"When I given her a spot on my bed"
Given is a past participle used without an auxiliary verb. You should add have before or change it to gave.
"A small smile climbs of the side of my face."
I think here you should have off.
"At the center of her hands a small blossom of fire grows"
After hands, you should add a comma.
"Do you even care that they might be dead because you"
It should of after because.
Now, for the story itself. I loved the first chapter but the second one seem confusing. As in the first comment, he changed his mind to quickly and the action seemed a little rushed.
Overall, you have a lovely story with a phew things to improve. :)
I hope my review helped you and didn't offend you in any way,
MoonIris.




Rosewood says...


Thank you for pointing out the grammatical errors! I usually have them fixed, but I posted this in a rush. As for part two, what was confusing?



MoonIris says...


It was confusing how the character changes his opinion so quickly. We don't have the time to fully understand what happened before the fire starts.



Rosewood says...


I've noticed that many people thought that. I wanted to seem that he was in shock- who wouldn't be- and that led him to make a choice without considering the facts. When he hears his sister's cry, that is when he really sees the entire picture. Arris is standing here, almost no regret for murdering her family, and he's willingly leaving his for her? This, of course, was my thought process, and I will consider editing it so that it's clearer for the general public.



MoonIris says...


I think you should slow down the action during this moment. That will bring atention to this moment and you can explaon better. You should take the time to explain his feelings. I also want to ask did you take your name from the Rosewood chronics?



Rosewood says...


No, but thank you for asking. Ny middle name is Rose, and I'm probably going to go by my first and middle name when I publish. What are the Rosewood chronics?



MoonIris says...


It%u2019s a series of three books that I read when I was younger. It%u2019s a nice story. By the way you have a lovely name.



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Sun Sep 13, 2020 1:05 pm
Valkyria wrote a review...



Hello Rosewood,

This was an eerie, tension-gripping story! It kept me invested from start to finish.

Eyes wide, I begin to notice her more clearly. Her usually smooth brown hair is mangy and wet and her bright eyes are bloodshot, wide with fear with wild, dark bags draped under them. She's quivering and taking in breaths too suddenly. And her bare feet are practically blue. Something's very wrong.


Nice description!

"Come in, but be quiet. You can tell me what's going on when we get to my room."

"I c-can't c-come in..."


Ooh, the tension is building.

She stiffens at the words and grabs my arm. Her hands, which should be freezing, are almost too hot on my skin.


Foreshadowing?

"But...you love your family?"


This feels a little awkward for me. The first question Felix should be asking is what, why, or how? Like he does in the next paragraph. And then he can mention the family, such as:

"But...what about your family? You love them, right?"


It feels natural.

I grab her wrists, which are almost too painful to bear. "Let's run away."


This is a sudden shift. It leaves the reader baffled. I recommend writing out the thought process. Maybe Felix shifts his eyes or bites his lips. He's starting to worry about Arris, so he comes up with this crazy plan.

We wait for any sound, straining our ears for something we don't know exists. I hear a small cry.

"It's... my baby sister."


That hit hard. The pause in the middle. Felix realizing he can't run away; he can't leave his family.

"Please, take my hand!"

I'm going to die.

"Take my hand!"

I'm going to die.

"Kid, take my hand!"

I'm going to die.


The repetition is nicely done here. And the last dialogue, I wonder what it is.

"Felix, you're safe. Your father and sister are in another ambulance, we're on the way to the hospital. You're, we're, going to be okay."

"Mom?" My voice is raspy, my throat burns with the effort.


Ahh, so that must have been a fireman or someone, rescuing him and his family from the house fire.

"Arris?" She's confused. "What are you talking about?"


Arris isn't real? *Mind schemes* Maybe it's a hallucination because of the fire.

Overall, this is a great story. The tension is good, and the build-up to Arris's power is great!
Athena




Rosewood says...


Thank you for your feedback! To clarify, yes, it was a fireman. I meant to include something about that, but oops, guess I forgot. As for the ending, I couldn't figure out one that I liked. This was the best I could do, and it still isn't clear. Arris is real, as you will see in part two, but here, I was trying to show that she wasn't found as the cause of the fire... and even [italic]I[/italic] don't know what happened to her.



Rosewood says...


*%uD835%uDE10

Messed that up, but you get the idea.



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Sun Sep 13, 2020 12:14 am
Stormblessed242 wrote a review...



Hello, Stormblessed here!
This was a very... fiery first chapter.(pardon the pun.)
I'm excited to read the next part!
There aren't many errors, but I do have some advice for when writing out thought processes. When Felix changes his mind on whether to run away or not, it's a bit sudden, and feels awkward. Try putting more of his thoughts in the buildup to it than just "this is wrong."

On to the errors.

I finally she her dim figure

I think you mean "see" instead of "she."

I offer lead her to up my room

The should be a "to" after "offer."

I couch as a thick cloud of smoke

I think you mean "cough" here.
Also, you use the term "the thick cloud of smoke" again in the next paragraph, and it ends up feeling repetitive.

Am I going to die?

Unfortunately, this sentence feels like it's interrupting the seriousness of the situation. Do what you want with it, but keep in mind the situation.

Those were all the ones I found, so good job! I'm going to head on over to the next chapter and drop a review there as well!

Hope this helped!
Stormblessed242
Image




Rosewood says...


Thank you for your feedback! When Felix changes his mind, I meant it to be based upon his sister's cry. He'd been so focussed on his friend, he hadn't even considered his family. Then, the truth slowly sunk in. I didn't mean for it to sound sudden, but instead, for him to realize how single-minded he'd been, which ultimately affects his decision.





That makes sense




"He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how."
— Fredrich Nietzche (Philosopher)