MY EYES FLEW OPEN as I choked on thick, black smoke pouring in through my open window. I thrashed in my bed, desperately tangled in my sheets, finally crashing to the floor, my legs released from their sheeted prison. Adrenalized from both a gasp of fresh air and the ultimate peril, I sprang from the hard ground and cast myself at the door, fumbling for the latch keeping me from escape. My head caught up with me.
Click. Out the door and running. Crack! Flat on the floor, a broken board above me. Head pounding. Hot blood racing down my cheek. Have to race now. For my life. Can’t stop. Not now. Not now.
Thick, stinging smoke. Couldn’t see, eyes burning. Crawl to the front door. Reach, reach for it. The handle. Pull it back.
Flames lick greedily up the stair from below. People running, falling, screaming. Everywhere. Toxic smoke cloaks them. Me. Everything. Cloaked in death. Parents, children, old, young, strong, weak—all cloaked. All going. All gone. My heart shrieked with horror. Where are mine?
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