It was the same dream all night every night. The flames shot up towards the dark sky, as if they were trying to touch the stars. I saw them dancing in front of my eyes, engulfing the whole house until there wasn’t a single spot out of their fiery embrace. It didn’t seem real; the whole scene had this strange flat look. Like the images you would see playing on a screen in a theatre. Except I could feel the heat against my skin and the tears in my eyes burn away before they even had the chance to fall down my cheeks. Sadnesss and despair filled the air; my own and that of those who were burning inside the house. Those nameless and faceless people, I couldn’t see them anywhere in the house but I heard their screams as the smoke filled their lungs and the fire burned away their flesh.
These people meant something to me, I knew it. I could feel it in the way my heart crumpled on my chest. I wanted to call out their names, but I couldn’t remember them. I loved them, I knew it, but I didn’t know who they were. They belonged to someone else, a different life of a different girl who died in that fire with them. Or perhaps she had never existed at all. Every night was the same, I couldn’t do anything but stay right there; unable to move a single muscle to save my forgotten friends. But tonight it was going to be different; tonight I forced my brain to will my legs into moving and I started walking towards the house. My feet were dragging at first, but with each little step I found the strenght to walk faster until finally I was running towards the house.
I mustered the courage to take a look through a window; the screaming and crying had died down by then. Inside there was nothing but broken and burning furniture; books scattered all over the floor and the staircase to the second floor had fallen down to ruins. Everything was consumed by the fire; everything but her. A little girl, about eight years old, stood calmly in the middle of the burning living room staring at the body of an older woman lying in front of her, neither of them caught on fire. Someone dashed past her, a boy, half his body covered in flames but she seemed undaunted by it. She stood still, her gaze frozen upon the older lady on the floor and my gaze frozen upon her. She looked familiar, like all the other things in that picture but for the life of me I couldn’t remember.
I heard a smashing sound and took my attention away from the window. The boy had kicked the door open and rushed out of the house. He threw himself on the grass and started rolling over it, trying to snuff out the flames. I looked at him in horror as he trembled on the ground all covered in dirt. Half his face had a pinkish color, as did his left arm and some of his neck. His hair wasn’t cumpletely burned off but parts of it were charred. He looked up and his eyes meet mine; one of them was brown while the other was completely bloodshot.
“Victor.” I said without actually knowing what I meant. He reached out one hand towards me and I was compelled to reach back, to run to him and hold him but once again my feet were refusing to move a single inch. Victor… His name was Victor. But, who was he?
“Go!” He yelled back at me. “Run Hortense! Run!” And then his eyes froze in single expresion so full of dread. He tried to stand up but the pain it caused him was to great.
“Get away! Leave her alone!” It wasn’t until I felt the cold air on my neck that I realized he wasn’t screaming this last few words at me.
A chill ran down my spine. The boy was begging me to run and my body was too, but I had gone further in that night that I had ever before. My stubborn self wouldn’t let me leave without answers. As I began to turn my head I could hear him still yelling for me to go and for someone else to leave me alone, but it was too late. She was no longer on the living room but right in front of the window, looking back at me. Her face was pressed up against the glass as if she was trying to go through it and reach me; I backed away from it in terror. Her face retained in some features the look of the little girl from earlier. Her cheek bones potruded from her face creating sockets where her cheeks should be and pressing her eye sockets deeper down in her face. Her black lips contorted in an evil smile to reveal a mouthful of rotten teeth oozing black liquid from them. Her eyes where completely white but for the pupil, which seemed to dilate the more she looked at me.
I started to walk backwards, trying to get away from the girl’s horrendous visage but I got only a couple of steps further before she realized I was going away. Her smile dissapeared and her evil eyes were filled with anger. My heart was thumping and I swear I felt it flatline the minute her smiled returned. She seemed to emulate me and take a few steps back. What was she doing? Was she leaving? But a good five feet from the window she stopped. Then she charged againts the window full speed. Her arms went through the glass and grabbed a hold of my shoulders pulling me toward that hideous face of hers. She leaned her head close to mine, she smelled like rotten eggs, and she whispered in my ear.
My screams echoed in the dark room; my mother rushed in and turned on the light. There was no burning house, no boy or girl; just me and my mom in my good old room back at my good old house. Instinctively I looked at my shoulders right where she had grabbed a hold of me, I still felt them burning. Then I turned my attention towards my terrified mother and unconsciously the words just bursted out my mouth.
“Rose wants me to come home.”