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David Taylor, 11 Feb '13

The heat prickled Adam's skin as he stepped even closer to the blaze. It was agony now, being so near to it, and every instinct he had told him to run as the sweat that dampened his brow ran into his itching eyes and each breath became more ragged than the last as the acrid smoke stripped away more of his throat.

But there was nowhere to run to. The corridor behind him had already collapsed, forming a broken tangle of wooden teeth and twisted metal snares. So he had to go forward. He had to go through the flames.

Come on, Adam, he thought, desperately trying to psych himself up. But he couldn't and the only thought weighing on his mind was one of yesterday: the memory of when he had checked in at the hotel. He had staggered to his room, weary and short-tempered after a full day's travelling, and had scoffed when he saw the faded fire escape route attached to the inside of the door. He didn't know why the hotel staff insisted on putting them up. No-one reads them and what were the chances of there actually being a fire on the one night he was staying here?

Low, Adam thought again with a cynical laugh. But the statistical chance of a fire starting was irrelevant now that one had. He coughed fitfully into his hand and suddenly realised that no-one else was around him. Had they all read the escape plan and not gotten lost like him?

The floor trembled beneath Adam suddenly, snapping him out of his moping as the sounds of splintering wood echoed loudly throughout the hall. It's now or never, he thought, closing his eyes as he jumped through the fire even as the floor gave way beneath him.

There was pain like nothing that he had ever experienced before as he entered the flames. It was as if thousands of knives had been plunged into his flesh that twisted ever deeper, even as the insides of his lungs blistered. But as suddenly as the pain began, it faded and he was through the flames with no more than a numbing tingle licking his body.

Adam panicked when he landed, finding that he was blinded by the tears that streamed down his cheeks, and pawed at them frantically as he ran down the hall; not daring to stop. He tripped over something without warning, spraining his ankle, and landed heavily on his face.

Gasping to regain his breath, Adam gritted his teeth and pushed himself back up to his knees. Although it had been painful and his whole body now throbbed with a heartbeat of its own, Adam found that the impact had helped to clear his head and he noticed a small, green star glittering before him.

He managed to blink away just enough of the tears that still marred his vision to identify it. It wasn't a star after all. Why would it be? It was the sign above a fire escape.

Half laughing and half crying, Adam limped towards it. His gaze was fixed on the star as he went, which helped to spur him on and ignore the air that was growing heavier with each passing moment.

Smashing heavily into it, Adam fell to his knees and dropped onto the push-bar. It clicked down with a clang and he fell onto his face as the door swung open. Standing, Adam greedily sucked the cleaner air into his lungs and took the stairs four at a time as he descended them.

Comments · 2

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  • John Blackshaw said...

    Really enjoyed this burrst! I was half expecting the door to be locked at the end ;)

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • David Taylor said...

    Thanks @John Blackshaw! Maybe the one at the bottom's locked - it's up to you ;)

    • Posted 6 years ago