Chapter 1 | Burn
Paige stood in-front of the window, the curtains parted as she listened to the soft pitter-patter of raindrops hitting her family’s two-story house. They were falling faster and harder with every passing second, as the storm that had been approaching finally reached her neighborhood.
Lightning flashed, the blinding source of light creating jagged lines through the sky. The flash lit up the bedroom the thirteen-year-old and her six-year-old sister shared for a split second before everything faded away into darkness once more. Immediately after, thunder rumbled loudly. It was so close, it almost seemed deafening.
Paige turned away from the window, letting go of the curtains as she did so. The material quickly fell back into its previous place, covering the window once more, no longer allowing the two girls to see the flashes of lightning illuminating the stormy night. The bedroom still lit up each time lightning flashed, however.
Paige walked in Jasmine’s direction slowly. Her sister was huddled in her bed. She’d pulled her sheets, blankets, and duvet around her, only allowing her neck and terrified face to be seen.
The older of the two sighed, her heart twisting in sympathy. In the few years of Jasmine’s short life, she’d never gone through a storm this fierce.
Said girl picked up her pace at the sound of her sister’s voice. She reached Jasmine’s side by the time she next spoke.
“I-I’m scared,” The little girl whimpered, trying to pull all her bedding closer to her. Jasmine’s voice wavered and shook slightly.
Paige sighed softly, sitting beside the younger girl. “Don’t worry,” She said, pulling her into a hug, which Jasmine gladly returned. The former’s bright blonde hair overlapped the latter’s dirty blonde hair strands until Paige pulled away.
“It’s just a storm,” She continued. “It’ll pass soon.”
Jasmine nodded hesitantly. A short silence passed, interrupted only by the constant rain and thunder.
“Would you like to see?” Paige asked. “It’s nothing serious, I promise.”
Jasmine paused before nodding again, shoving her bedding away from her. She swung her body around so she could stand up on the carpeted floor, walking to the window with newfound confidence. Paige quickly followed, dragging a chair behind her and carrying a slightly worn blanket from her own bed in her other hand.
The teenager set both things down to open the curtains, so neither she or Jasmine would need to bother to continuously hold them open.
Paige then sat down on the chair. Jasmine sat on her knees, and Paige pulled her blanket around both of them as Jasmine started to shiver.Another bolt of lightning flashed in the sky. Paige squeezed Jasmine’s hand reassuringly when she yelped quietly in surprise and fear- it had been a bit too close to the house for the two girl’s liking.
Jasmine pushed herself off Paige’s knees, slipping out from under the blanket to walk over to the door. Said door was shut, but Jasmine didn’t open it. The girl simply reached up and flicked the light switch right beside the door frame, and the room no longer relied on the brief flashes of lightning to illuminate it.
Paige had stayed by the window the whole time, looking out into the night. She’d started to frown, an odd and ominous feeling starting to run through her body.
Jasmine noticed this as she started to walk back, her pace slowing down. “Paige?” She asked. “What’s wrong-”
The end of her question was cut off by a sickening crackling sound, and immediately after, their bedroom light began to flicker dangerously.
Jasmine screamed, followed by Paige commandingly shouting, “Cover your ears!”
In her panic, Jasmine followed what Paige said, and the older did so as well. Just as Paige’s hands stopped moving, a deafening rumble of thunder occurred, so close to the house that said building shook, knocking Jasmine off her feet and onto her knees.
Once the long rumble of thunder had faded into more of a background noise, Jasmine uncovered her ears, got back on her feet and rushed over to her sister, hugging her tightly while burying her face (Which was now wet from terrified tears) into Paige’s stomach. She tightened her grip when terrified screams from their parents and older brother, Blake, reached their room.
The lights flickered one more time, giving Paige a brief sighting of the two sets of power sockets in their room. Both had wisps of smoke coming out from them. But then, the lights went out completely, and their room was once more plunged into complete darkness. Jasmine whimpered again at the sound of their mother, father, and brother screaming.
The beeping of a fire alarm started. Paige wondered if it was the one in their room from the smoke that she’d seen wafting out of the power sockets, but her heart felt like it was sinking with dread once she realized that the sound was not coming from their room, but one of the rooms upstairs.
“Oh no,” She muttered, peering out the window again. There was a flickering source of light coming from somewhere above the window frame, and when she pressed her face against said window, she could just see the flicker of flames on the roof of their family’s house.
“Oh-” She caught herself before she let a curse word leave her mouth. Jasmine had tried to look out the window, having also seen the new light when she went to move her head. Like her sister, the six-year-old had also seen the flames eating away at their house, and she’d started to sob, even more terrified.
Paige felt herself starting to panic. What do I do, she thought over and over, starting to look around frantically. The house is on fire, oh geez! She then closed her eyes.
“Get a grip, Paige,” she muttered to herself softly. You’re the oldest here. Jasmine needs you. Think of something!
“Alright,” Paige then said, loudly this time. “Jasmine, open the window. I’ll grab a few things, like a jacket, so you don’t get cold. We’ve got to get out of here!”
“Quickly!” Paige interrupted. “I know. I know. We’ve got some time, trust me!” She pulled away from Jasmine and grabbed her green school backpack. In a great rush, she stuffed her blanket, Jasmine’s blanket, some of her clothes, some of Jasmine’s, her jacket, and Jasmine’s jacket into the bag. While she was by Jasmine’s bed, Paige grabbed Jasmine’s favorite stuffed toy (A yellow bird) and put it inside the bag as well. One pair of sandals each also went in the bag, and two framed pictures of their family went in as well. For once, Paige was grateful for having a bag with way too much space.
Knowing they didn’t really have any more time, Paige decided not to put anything else in the bag. She zipped it closed and slung the straps over her shoulders. She ran to the window, only to find that it was still closed. Jasmine was struggling with it.
“The window’s jammed!” The six-year-old sobbed. “We’re gonna die,” She continued as Paige also tried- and failed- to get the window open.
“I don’t want to die!” Jasmine wailed, clinging to Paige.
The latter frowned. “No, we are not going to die,” she said firmly. She then slipped her backpack back off her shoulders. “Look out!” She exclaimed. Paige then swung the back backward, before swinging it forwards with all her might. It hit the glass so hard it cracked. Paige hit the glass with the bag again, and it shattered. She continued to hit the glass until there was hardly any left, making a large gap for the two girls to escape through.
Paige grabbed Jasmine, lifting her up and quickly helping her through the window. The edge of the house’s deck was right outside their window, the same height as their floor, so Paige got her to stand on the deck instead of making her drop down onto the ground (Which was covered in glass from when Paige smashed the window with her bag). The thirteen-year-old handed the bag to Jasmine before climbing out herself. One of the shards of glass that was still in the window cut Paige’s hand. Said girl gasped in pain, but she still jumped to land beside Jasmine, just as the wood of the window frame was engulfed by the flames that had been eating the walls.
Part of the wall fell onto the deck. It was still on fire, and that made the deck catch on fire as well.
“Run,” Paige exclaimed, taking her bag back, slinging it onto her shoulders again. She started running herself, grabbing Jasmine’s arm and taking her sister with her. “Run!”
It felt as if the flames were following them, licking at their pajamas and skin, eager to swallow the two of them up in a fiery demise.
The stairs were already ablaze, which meant the two sisters would have to jump off the deck. Thankfully, the shattered glass hadn’t traveled very far, so it would be safe for them to jump off the end of the deck.
As they reached the edge of the deck, Paige reached around and scooped Jasmine up into her arms. The latter reached up and wrapped her arms around Paige’s shoulders, clinging to her tightly as the thirteen-year-old jumped off the deck.
The two of them were airborne for one or two seconds before Paige stuck her feet out just before she landed. Not even a second after she landed, the ground shock kicked in, the spiderwebs of pain shooting up from her ankles. Paige fell to her knees, set Jasmine down, and clutched her feet as she waited for the painful throbbing to fade.
When Paige took her hand away from her ankles, there was a streak of blood, and she remembered that her hand had been cut by the remaining glass of the window when she climbed out said window.
Jasmine had shuffled over to Paige. The two could do nothing but watch the rest of the house burn to a crisp.
They could both hear one last sickening, pain filled scream from their mother before she fell silent.
“Wha... what... what now?”
Both Paige and Jasmine were so shocked (And horrified from hearing their mother’s last scream), neither of them could tell who’d said that.
The two of them looked at each other. The storm had nearly passed, and now there was only light rain. Nowhere near enough to put out the inferno that had completely engulfed the house that was once their home.
What now indeed, Paige repeated mentally.
Paige noticed that Jasmine had started to shiver, which wasn’t all that surprising, since (Despite the flames not all that far away from them) it was nearing midnight, and they were getting wet from what was left of the storm.
Paige shifted onto her knees, wincing when she used her injured hand to help push herself up. She then unzipped her bag, rummaging around until she managed to find Jasmine’s jacket. The thirteen-year-old grabbed it and pulled it out, re-zipping the bag afterward. She then helped Jasmine put it on, trying to ensure that her blood didn’t get onto it.
“Do you think mummy, daddy, and Blake made it out?” Jasmine asked quietly.
The scream from their mother that the two of them had heard replayed in Paige’s ears. “I don’t think they did,” she murmured. “They’re not here, and even if they had made it here, they’d probably die anyway... from smoke inhalation, their burns, and injuries or something like that.”
Jasmine turned and flung her arms around Paige, her eyes wide open and fixed on the flames.
Our home is gone...Paige thought as she looked down at her sister. Our family is gone... She started to frown again. We have nowhere to go! What do we do? Where do we go from here?
Paige then stood up, pulling Jasmine up with her. She then started helping her shocked sister away from the a-blaze home as the fire began to eat away at the grass on their lawn.