It was a dark, quiet night. Above the small city, stars glowed brightly, as if each one was trying to outshine the others. A warm, July wind blew across the lawns, ruffling the grass outside of Watcher’s Poor House. Almost all the windows were black, save for the kitchen.
Inside, the chef was boiling water for the jello that had been donated earlier that week. It was one of the small children that lived here’s birthday tomorrow, and the chef wanted to surprise her. But it was late, and her old eyes had grown weary. She sat down for a moment, failing to notice the oven mitt that sat, just a smidge, too close to the flames. She failed to smell the burning of cloth and the heat of the flames until it was too late.
When she opened her eyes, the flames had grown too large for her to deal with herself. She ran out of the kitchen frantically and pulled the fire alarm in vain. She pulled again, but found it to be broken. She began running around the large house, banging on doors, “Get out, get out!” She cried, “Before the flames consume you!”
One by one, tired families opened their eyes, and upon realizing the danger, began rushing themselves out the doors and into the night.
One little girl, lying in her bed, found herself being unceremoniously roused from her sleep. "Mama?" She whispered, her eye adjusting to the darkness. She coughed, something didn't smell right. Why was the air so stuffy? And why was Mama so frightened? "Mama, what's going on?" Her voice grew louder in fear as her father rushed in.
"Hurry Kayla! We need to get out of here!"
The small girl was pulled up into her mothers arms and hugged tightly. She was confused, hadn't Mama and Daddy told her she was too big for that now? Something red caught her eye, she pointed it out to her parents, "Mama! Daddy! Look!"
Her mother gasped, "James-"
"I see it." He responded, "Quickly, let's go!"
The little girl was clutched tighter to her mothers chest, so tight, she could hear her mothers heart beat, loud and frantic against her chest. Boom, boom, boom.
Screams could be heard from everywhere, and the small girl found herself growing too hot, she couldn't see anything except her mothers night shirt. She began pushing, "Mama, I'm too hot!"
Her mother dropped her and grabbed her hand, still pulling her down the stairs. She was growing more fearful as she saw the flames chasing them. Tears began running down her face.
"Shh, it's ok sweetie, everything is going to be ok." Her mother reassured her, "We'll get out here, and be safe, Mommy loves you, daddy loves you, it will all be ok." She looked down at her, her kind, hazel eyes, so full of love. The girl felt she would be safe in that moment, everything would be ok.
And then, a burning post fell and hit her mother, and she found herself pushed away. Her mother lay on the floor, her eyes closed, body unmoving as blood poured from a gaping head wound. She saw her father rush towards her mom, "Go Lane! Go! I'll take care of her! Get out!"
"Daddy!" She cried, as she was pulled from them by the throng of people, rushing for the door.
"Go!" He shouted, tears were running down his face, and she could have sworn she heard him whisper, "Goodbye, my love." before she was pushed out of sight.
When she finally made it out the door, she began gazing around, trying to find her parents. “Mommy? Daddy?” she cried, but they could not be found.
The fire department arrived, along with their local superhero, White Wing. He landed beside her, “What is wrong child?” White Wing knelt down and patted her back.
“M-My parents, I c-c-can't find them!” She pointed at the blazing building, “I th-th-think they’re still in there!”
White Wing nodded, “And your parents, do they work here?”
The girl shook her head, “No. We live here.” White Wing stood up suddenly and began to walk away, but not towards the all consuming flames, but towards the street. The girl raced forward and grabbed his cape. “Wait sir, where are you going?”
Cold blue eyes flashed in contrast to the hot, crimson scene. They were eyes that Elaine Caster, only 7 years old as of 10 minutes, would never forget. His next words chilled her soul.
“What use is it saving someone who can't even return the favor? Do yourself a favor kid, you want help? Have the money to pay for it.” White Wing walked away, and Elaine was left to watch as the flames slowly ate away at everything she had ever known.
Ash rained down from the sky, as if mourning all that had happened here by showering all with memories of what they had lost. Elaine remembered what her mother had said, that everything would be ok. But she was wrong. And dead. Nothing was ok, and nothing ever would be.