This is chapter one is the story Fires from the Dark.
Run. Escape. Both basic instincts of survival. Not many exercise these at all throughout their daily routines.
Sven’s situation was the polar opposite.
Splitting rafters, machines ablaze, sparks, screaming…yes, screaming. The endless, ear-piercing screeches that drowned out all else. These poor people…trapped by falling, burning debris, unable to take any action to secure themselves.
Uncontrollable fear stained Sven’s conscience as he leaped over pile after smoldering pile of wooden beams, sparking computers. Mutilated bodies of the unfortunate peppered the floors.
Running, running. Sven’s chest was on fire. He didn’t remember when he started running, nor when he broke into a desperate sprint. He knew not when he would stop. Only the primal instinct of survival registered in his mind.
Walls, machinery, wood, people. Burning. Screaming. Pleading for some savior; no such miracle would happen.
As he tumbled over a series of fallen support beams and wires, Sven happened to slam into another…no. It wasn’t another like himself. This…this thing…it boasted the silhouette of a man; it stood like a man; it turned like a man would. But it wasn’t a man.
Sven, horrified, stumbled back on his arms and legs best he could, trying not to look into the creature's…no…he couldn’t. How could he?
It had no eyes.
Sven woke with a startled gasp.
Sweat raced down the young man’s cheeks, his nerves reporting a cooling sensation. Cooling. Not burning.
Sven frantically looked around.
No fire. No screaming. No sightless demon.
As his senses awoke, as if they had been in a long-drawn hibernation, he realized he was lying in his bed. Warm, comfortable, welcoming.
His drowsy thoughts slowly shifted to the other side of the bed. As different aspects of his life came fluttering back to him, he turned to see nothing but a small impression in the bed beside him.
His girlfriend, Lori, was nowhere to be seen.
Sven, with some effort and mild grunts, sat up, swung his legs over his side of the couple’s bed.
The room was flooded with light from the late morning sun. The dim yellow colors of the wallpaper did little to dull it.
Sven turned to his bedside table, and stole a glance at the clock. Nine Forty-two A.M., it read.
He stood up, and groggily trudged out of the furnished bedroom out into the hallway.
To the left of the couple’s bedroom, at the end of the hall, lay the bathroom. Across of the sleeping quarters was a small room dedicated to their spoiled, chubby cat, Terra. It was given to the feline due to Sven’s allergies to it.
He chose to take a right, down a flight of stairs. At the bottom, to the right, lay the living room, a large, bright room filled with modestly priced, tan furniture and a rather sleek and sizeable television set.
To the left, through a door, was the kitchen, Sven’s destination. The smell of coffee brewing led him down the flight of stairs and through the doorway.
Lori was seated at their small, round table positioned in front of a large sliding door that led to their backyard and gardens. Sprawled on her lap was the ever-elegant Terra, being massaged ever so tenderly across the scalp.
Sven walked over and placed a kiss on her forehead as she looked up from her coffee and paper, and continued on to the coffee machine on the counter, near the sink.
“Sunday morning,” she said, not bothering to look back up from her newspaper after her gaze settled back onto an article on the climbing national debt. “You’re usually not up ‘til ten-thirty or so.”
“Mmmm…” he grunted as he swiped a mug out of the cabinets above the sink.
“’Mmmm’? That’s your explanation?” Lori questioned.
“I was…just so enthralled at the thought of spending this wonderful day with you, I couldn’t stay asleep.” Sven said with a false smile as he pulled his mug away from the coffee brewer, taking a brief sip. He thought it best not to tell his partner of his horrific visions.
“I see…” Lori replied, nudging the cat off onto the floor.
Sven stepped towards the sliding door and slid open it just as the blue-gray tabby cat glided past, out into the gardens.
“So, are we leaving to visit Andy today?” Lori asked.
Andrew Sholzer was a younger, slightly awkward man, compared to Sven. A long-time friend, he was visited often on weekends by Sven and Lori.
Sven ran his hand through his mop of unwashed dark brown hair.
“Maybe.” He said. “I’ll have to give him a call.”
“Hurry up – if we aren’t going over, I’m leaving for Lexi’s early.” She warned. “We’re supposed to leave for the mall later.”
“I’ll call him, then.” Sven said, starting for the phone.
“You may want to shower first.” Lori teased, wrinkling her nose.
Sven glowered at her, switched directions, and tramped through the door, up the stairs.
Lori smiled to herself, and took a sip of coffee.