Wild, orange flames licked the side of my arm. I jumped back, hissing and at a loss how to deal with the collapsing building around me. The air was getting decidedly heavier, the heat curling around my body and pressing down on me. My eyes fluttered and I coughed, trying to expel the toxic air.
Where were they?
Where were Adrian and Carl?
Grabbing my bandana, I tied it around my mouth, knowing the air quality wouldn’t be that better. I eyed Adrian’s bedroom one more time and decided to just go for it. I took a deep breath and ran through, keeping my head down. The wooden floor creaked underneath me.
Wildly, I scanned the room and my heart dropped.
Then I dropped.
I screamed shrilly as the floor gave way under my feet and I fell onto the first floor. A pain shot through my shoulder and I hoped I hadn’t done anything to break it. Hope being the operative word.
Knowing I couldn’t lay there forever, I got up and quickly tried to find the best exit. I swallowed the knot that formed in my throat. I can’t believe they left without me. I held the tears back, climbing outside through a broken mirror.
The sight that greeted me shocked me to my core.
Our whole town was engulfed in flames, the people running around with terror in their eyes.
I saw Melissa, a fellow fisherman, barrelling towards me. I grabbed her arm, to stop her from running through me.
“What’s wrong? What’s with the fire?”
“She didn’t pay them…,” Melissa sobbed, her entire body shaking.
“Who didn’t pay who?”
“Lady Alma…she didn’t pay the pirates. I-I can’t stay. I have to leave. You know what they do to women,” Melissa said, pushing me down and escaping my grip.
Before I could ask her where she planned to run, she had already disappeared into one of the numerous alleyways. The sea was not safe…none of our boats could outdo the pirates. If Lady Alma had chosen not to pay them then that meant she had already fled. I clenched my fists at the thought. The barge we lived on was in no way substantial enough to hide on forever.
I did not get a chance to ask her which pirates… Not that it ultimately mattered.
I heard yelling and my heartbeat quickened.
Quick, Alex. Make a choice.
Run or fight.
I pulled my fisherman’s knife that was around my waist.
I’d live to see another day. I had to. Carl and Adrian were out there. I gathered my blonde hair, closed my eyes and ran the knife through it. I threw the dead, fair strands to the side.
Not wanting to think too deeply on what I had done, I started running with no destination in mind. I wanted to leave the burning town behind –but that was not going to happen without a boat.
Just as I dove into an alleyway, I smacked into an immovable wall.
A feral, mostly toothless smile greeted me when I looked up.
It was the last sight that greeted me before he hit me on the head with the blunt end of his sword and darkness enveloped me.