As I got closer to our area, I could see people walking hurriedly in the same direction I was going. There was an undercurrent of excitement and it was contagious. I began to wonder what could be the cause of it all.
Seconds later, as I turned into my avenue, I could see black smoke billowing into the evening sky. It was thick, even from the distance. There was only one thing that could cause such.
A house was on fire.
I increased my pace as I began to wonder whose house it was. My briefcase swung in my grip as I walks hurriedly past people and other houses. My house was down the avenue, probably close to the burning house.
My wife and I have lived here for over five years, and for the last two, with our young daughter Anna. So it was safe to bet I would know the owner of the house currently currently up in flames.
Fire trucks zoomed past me, their sirens wailing as they raced to the rescue. I hurried even more. Soon, the building swam into view.
It was a duplex, it's walls were now black, flames were pouring out the roof and windows. As I got closer, I could see the crowd gathered around, as youths were pouring buckets of water into the raging inferno. Something that seemed to be making no difference at all. The fire fighters were busy pulling out their hoses and setting up their equipment lackadaisically. At the rate it was burning, they would never save the building.
So odd was the scene that for a couple of seconds, I didn't recognize the building.
"No!" I screamed as I began to push through the crowd.
My house was on fire!
"Alex!" I heard my wife's scream. I turned to find her being restrained by some of the crowd. She was weeping profusely. "Anna is inside."
That was all I needed to hear. I didn't even notice when the briefcase slipped through my fingers as I ran towards the burning building.
One of the firemen jumped in front of me, I simply sidestepped, letting him run past. There was no way I would trust my daughter's life with these clowns. Another tried by jumping in front of me, he fell back when my fist raised.
"Get out of my way." I warned him.
He must have seen the murderous look in my eyes, because he quickly stepped back without a word. I grabbed a bucketful of water and doused over my body. I drenched my hanky as well and tied it over my nose.
And without pausing to think about it, I ran into the building.
The heat was the first thing I felt, strong waves of it hitting me full blast. Then I saw the flames, bright and furious, eating away at the house joyfully, it's tongues destroying things left, right and center. Thick black smoke circled around, along the walls, escaping through the windows, doors and open roof.
"Anna!" I screamed through the hanky as I searched for my daughter. My clothes were already dry from the heat. "Anna!"
I scoured the open doors, the fire was at it's worst in what had once been the kitchen. There was no way I could go in there. I turned and staggered towards Anna's room.
There was a crack overhead and a section of the roof fell. I jumped out of the way as flaming logs of wood flew about. This only served to increase the fire. I could literally hear the waves as it grew stronger and stronger.
My forehead was now drenched in sweat, as I began to cough. I was breathing in too much smoke. I kicked at Anna's door, the wooden structure collapsed at once. Already weakened by the heat.
"Anna! Where are you?" I screamed, my voice was croaky from the smoke.
"Daddy..." I heard her tiny call. She was crouched in the corner of her room, somewhere the fire was yet to get to.
"Come on baby." I said as I hurried to her. "We need to get you out of here."
I took off the hanky and used it to cover her nose.
I carried her and turned around, my eyes were dizzy and my mind was disoriented. I was losing my sense of direction. But I held on to her as I staggered out of the room.
Behind us, another section of the roof caved in with a tremendous roar. And suddenly, fire was everywhere. It's flames were dancing with glee as they closed in on us. I could see no way out.
"Daddy!" Anna screamed as a door beside us exploded in a chunk of flaming debris, spitting fire out of the room. I held onto my daughter tighter, but it was getting difficult. I was coughing badly, my legs sagged beneath me and I dropped to my knees. My eyes were closing. I was loosing consciousness...
From the deep recesses of my fading mind, I heard an explosion from somewhere else in the house.
"Daddy..." My daughter muttered, her voice so close to my ear. My eyes snapped open, bringing me back to consciousness. Still holding on tight to her, I got back to my feet.
"Close your eyes baby." I muttered.
And I began to run, through the flames, shielding my daughter as much as I could as I dodged falling embers. Soon the flames began to reduce, and the smoke was getting lesser and lesser. Until I tore out of the building and was bathed in fresh air.
Still holding Anna, I fell to my knees once more, coughing and choking as we were surrounded by firefighters.
"Put out the fire!" Someone shouted, and it was then I realized I was on fire.
A thick blanket was thrown over me, smouldering the flames at once. An ambulance crew came and wheeled me into their vehicle. I could see Anna was now safe, untouched by the fire. And she was with her mother. I had protected her, like a father should.
Satisfied, I finally succumbed to the pain racking my body. And as my family walked towards me, I gave in to the bliss of unconsciousness.
While this is a work of fiction, things like this happen very often in my country. Authorities being negligent of their duties. We see this in the Police force, Fire department, hospitals and what not. No one does the work they're getting paid to do. And the government doesn't seem to be willing to put a stop to it anytime soon. So i guess it's safe to say I was inspired by my country. And my people.
And I want to thank The Inkwell Community for bestowing me with the 'Member' status. I'll keep on being and doing better.
I would really love to know more of you on a more personal level, if you feel the same, feel free to contact me via my Discord handle below: