It was supposed to be cold and windy that night, but instead the air was black with ashes and bloodred with swallowing flames. The buildings crumbled and folded and turned to ash as the licking searching fire sought them and hugged until collapse. I was sitting on my windowsill, my bare feet dangling over the street far below, as another fiery dragon shattered a building as people inside screamed.
And I don’t want to see what I’ve done
To undo what has been done
I sipped at my lemonade. Slowly, hesitantly, I smiled. I threw my half-full lemonade into the hellscape below and looked at my hands. I made them into fists, then jerked them open.—Bam!
They burst into flames, curling little yellow lizards of flame, like swirling clouds that bit and snarled and killed. I threw them. One then the other. To the screaming streets below. They landed and joined the ranks of the spinning, crackling fire demons.
“And already we see that cold shower we promised y’all last night, folks. Batten down the hatches! Open up the umbrellas! About ninety percent chance rain, twenty percent chance hail. Keep a sharp lookout, folks, my source in Albany predicts tornadoes. Again, I’m Jacob Morning on the Teleclock Weather News. So long!”
The blond smiling face disappeared and I snorted. And clicked off the TV. Predict tornadoes, will he? As if the winds themselves were at his command. Fool. Well, I’ll show him.
I hooked my feet around the windowsill and lit my hands. I opened my arms, threw them wide, flying. I was powerful. My arms were powerful. I summoned a lake of fire, a dragon that I’d never seen before, so powerful it put the Great Chicago Fire to shame. I smiled, gasped, reached my arms higher. I lashed them in a strangling motion. The dragon leapt up and guzzled the apartment building across the street.
See what you think of that, Jacob Morning.
On this champagne, drunken hope
Against the city, all alone
It was hell. That’s what it was. And I wasn’t being crass. Fire. Death, ashes, hot winds, crimson bloody fire. It was hell. The anchorman predicted cold and winds and tornadoes and this was what we got.
It’s what they got. I made it happen. “Ninety percent chance rain” indeed. Well, I guess it wasn’t his fault. No. It was mine.
The dragon caught me just before I struck the blackened, deserted street. Fire is a beautiful thing, I thought. Destruction is a beautiful thing. Fire is unpredictable—golden laughing flames in my hands and then you throw it and it’s a crimson demon that eats and snarls and drags screaming people and throws them in the sky.
I love fire.
I am fire.
I discovered it one day when I went too far inside the forest next to my father’s house. It was dark and I was trying with bleeding hands to light a fire so I could sleep and then die while mostly warm. And suddenly my hands were on fire. I screamed. I screamed, and I couldn’t stop screaming.
I could rise up, make a phoenix of fire, kill and destroy and laugh while doing it. I think I lost my conscience as the fire grew inside me. More powerful as the months went by, as days and years and school semesters flew underneath me. It tasted like bile. The fire tasted like bile. It rose inside me when I was angry or afraid and exploded out of my hands when I could taste it in my mouth.
I am so sick of creeping, smiling people.
I rose again. The fire pulled me upward, and I rode on the fire above the city. My hands were alight again, flames spinning around me as the skyscrapers toppled and crushed the streets below. The ash was riding on the wind and I tasted it in my mouth and it mixed with the bile that rose as well.
I let out a scream. I was not terrified. I was happy. Happy in a horrible, aching way. I was evil, I realized. And worst of all, I did not care.
Cause it’s a feeling that you get
When the afternoon is set
On a bridge into the city
The bridges break under the weight of fire demons. I have never caused such destruction before. I drank it in. I had never felt so fulfilled as I did then.
Years. That’s what it was. Years of hiding, of weeping in my closet with my fingertips on fire, of begging on my knees Why I had this power… well now I wasn’t going to do any of that. I lit my hands again and again and threw the fire again and again. I knew I looked like a goddess, rising above the city with whorls of fire flung from my hands.
How does my story end, I wonder? There are three ways.
One. I would die. I would fling myself into the flames and embrace death as my own flames embraced me. Not an option. I don’t want to die.
Two. I would kill everyone on earth. Fire and destruction would reign for days and months until there was no reason to. But it would destroy the soil as well, and any water source. And I am not bloodthirsty. Just lonely.
Three. I would escape. I could leave my city burning to its knees and flee to a wilderness somewhere. I wouldn’t have to worry about warmth, that’s for sure. That might be a good idea.
Again I laughed. Poor Jacob Morning was getting fired for sure. Or else he was dead. I smiled until I felt my jaws creak. The fire holding me buckled, and I stumbled before a new wave came in and steadied me. All those lives… sure, they deserved it, but what about the little kids who just wanted their mother to bring them a glass of water? What about them? What about the white-aproned baker getting ready for bed so he could wake and make doughnuts at five the next morning? What about him? What about the judge, dispensing justice where needed, always impartial, signing off from a long day of headaches? What about him?
I gasped. I put a hand to my face as a child screamed from a rooftop next to me, and the fire fell, carrying me with it.
On this champagne, drunken hope
Against the current, all alone
Everybody, see, I love him
“Gooood morning everyone. Welcome back after one of the most harrowing days in global history. Yesterday afternoon, an unknown source started the worst fire in national history, killing millions of people and destroying thousands of buildings. Witnesses have testified to seeing a woman—my sister, Relia Morning, to be exact—throwing balls of fire from her hands to the people below. But psychiatrists have testified that said witnesses are possibly out of their mind with shock. Unknown source died with the rest of the city last night in waves of flames only dreamed of. Just under a thousand out of five-hundred million city-dwellers survived last night. A moment of silence for this great loss of life.”
Static stretched across the airwaves, as somewhere in the distance a phoenix of fire was singing.
On this hope
Against the current, all alone…