Author’s Note: This might be a bit confusing, but bear with me. I’ll explain everything.
“Green and Vee, get out of there. Red said the fire is getting out of control.”
One of the windows in the hall exploded outwards and there was a blast of heat. Shay turned and ducked her head so her shoulder took most of the blow. Grandmother Clarissa had said the jumpsuits were fireproof and she hadn’t been lying.
Shay touched a finger to her earpiece. “Is everyone out?”
There was a crash over the line and then Ace said, “We think so—”
“Wait,” Sienna said. “I’ve got a woman here who says she can’t find her son.”
“He’s probably already out,” Ace told her.
Vivienne’s voice joined them on the line. “Check anyway. What floor?”
Shay choked and coughed as the smoke began to penetrate the small bubble of clean air she’d formed around her face. It burned her throat and stung her eyes, but she was able to lift her hands and push the smoke away to form a new bubble.
“Green? Are you there?” Ace’s voice demanded.
“I’m here,” Shay replied quickly.
“Blue said he should be on your floor. Room 318.”
“Alright. I’m on it.”
Smoke curled along the ceiling in dark gray clouds and bright orange flames licked at the walls, consuming them. The ceiling was beginning to crumble and chunks of flaming plaster were raining down. There was a sound of wood breaking and Shay looked up in time to see a beam falling towards her.
She lunged forward and tucked herself into a ball like Ace had taught her just as the beam crashed down where she had been. She stood up, brushing debris off her suit and glanced behind her. The wooden beam was ablaze and slanting across the middle of the hallway, blocking the way she had come in.
She cursed under her breath, and then looked at the room number on the nearest door. 342. She gathered a ball of fresh air in front of her and bit her lip.
Oh, Hecate. Please help me find this kid.
Then she took off running.
She pushed the ball of air ahead of her, using it to part the smoke as she moved through it. More burning plaster rained down. She felt some land in her hair and she felt heat there, but she kept running.
322. 320. 318.
She came to a stop in front of the door. She banged on the wood with her fist and yelled, “Hello? Can you hear me?”
She waited only a second for a reply. “Get away from the door!"
She stepped back from the door and released the ball of air in front of her so she was immediately surrounded by smoke. She coughed, resisting the urge to bring the fresh air back. She couldn’t manipulate the air and break down the door at the same time.
She cupped her hands in front of her and the green electricity sparked between them. She let it grow until it was roughly the size of a softball and then she flung it at the door. There was an explosion, and Shay jumped through the smoke filling the open doorframe.
She dropped to a crawl on the floor. She felt lightheaded and she couldn’t seem to concentrate long enough to form another air bubble. The heat was overwhelming even through her suit and there was smell of burning hair.
“Hello?” she called again in a raspy voice, peering past the bed that was engulfed in flames. “Is anyone in here?”
“Green, have you found him yet?"
Shay touched her earpiece and got out through a fit of harsh coughs, “Not yet.”
“I want you out in five minutes if you can’t find him. Red said the building is about to come down.”
Shay didn’t answer. If there was a kid in the building, she had to find them.
She pressed herself against the floor to check under the bed and then she checked in the back corner next to the dresser. Her head was spinning. If she was a kid where would she be? There was no other place to hide but—
She made her way to the closed bathroom door and forced herself to stand even if it meant breathing more smoke. Her throat and mouth were dry and raw from coughing. It hurt to breathe.
She cupped her hands again and somehow her faint, smoke-filled brain formed enough electricity to break down the door. She stumbled into the bathroom and almost fell against the sink. Then she spotted the unconscious boy in the tub.
She dropped to her knees beside the tub, reaching for his wrist to check for his pulse. She found one, but it was weak. Grunting, she lifted the boy out of the tub and got him over her shoulder. His five-year-old body should have been light but Shay was close to collapsing.
She stood and her legs began to move. She focused on finding an exit. She got out into the hallway and saw they were both blocked. She was coughing uncontrollably. Everything was on fire. She couldn’t think.
“All the exits are blocked!” she shouted as she hit the earpiece.
“I’m at the front of the building, right below the third window on the left,” Vivienne told her. “Go to that window.”
Window, window, window, Shay’s brain repeated as her eyes flitted around.
She went to the nearest one and peered out. It was a front window, so Vivienne should have been . . .
Shay spotted her standing below the next window over. She turned and made her way over to it. It was broken and smoke was billowing out of it. Shay couldn’t see through.
“I’m at the . . . window,” Shay told her, interrupted by several coughs. “I’m dropping . . . the boy out now. Ready?”
Shay hoisted the boy off her shoulders and into her arms. She leaned through the smoke that made her eyes tear up and her lungs feel like they would burst. She threw him away from herself with all the strength she had.
“I caught him, Green. Spots is taking him over to the paramedics. Now it’s your turn.”
Shay got a knee up on the window sill and clung to the frame as she pulled the rest of her body up, praying she wouldn’t fall. She stood up, trying to see through the smoke that was blinding her and trying to choke the life out of her.
“Jump,” Vivienne said.
Read, Rate, Subscribe, and Comment :)