The Fire Within

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Beep. Beep. Beep.

Will someone turn that damned thing off?!

I try opening my eyes to see what is beeping only to find I can’t. Memories flash in my head and I mentally tense.

Flint. Getting shot. The smell of fire.

A feeling of discomfort makes itself known all over my body and I softly groan. I hear a gasp from beside me and I furrow my eyebrows.

“Come on, baby. Open your eyes,” a familiar woman’s voice says. Who was it? How do I know them? Is it... Who is it? “Come on, Dawn. Open your eyes, sweetie.”

It’s mom! Okay, mom. I will. I will open my eyes for you.

I try to open my eyes again. They feel like something is keeping them down and I am fighting the unknown force. I keep trying. I feel my eyes move, just not my lids.

Come on! Open stupid eyes!

With another minute of trying, they finally flutter open. Light floods in and I squeeze my eyes shut for a second before opening them again. I let my eyes adjust before I look around at my surroundings.

White ceiling. White walls. A heart monitor. Mom, dad. My brothers. A man I don’t recognize. A tan blanket covering me. An IV in my arm. Bandages on my other arm.

I look at my mom who has joyful tears in her eyes.

“How are you feeling, sweetheart?” I open my mouth to speak but I start coughing, my throat sore.

“I’ll get you some water, sis,” Devan says and I nod. He leaves the room and my eyes find the stranger again. I run my eyes over his appearance in observation. He is built, almost like he trains to have a certain readiness for everything. I don’t see dog tags so his training is for something else. The only thing I can think of is the FBI unless the CIA or something like that got involved in this which I doubt. Shit... Why is he here?

“I am Agent Liam Cross from the Colombia FBI Field Office,” he introduces himself and I nod. I look to my father for further explanation. My father goes to speak but Devan comes in with my water. He hands it to me and I drink it, feeling the cool liquid flow down my throat in a soothing manner.

When all the water is gone, I place the cup down on the bedside table and I sigh. I look at my father who sighs.

“Agent Cross is your bodyguard from now on,” he says and I immediately start shaking my head, not agreeing that I need a bodyguard. “You can’t get out of this one. After what happened with that guy at your school, you should know you’re not safe. He’ll be your bodyguard until my service ends.”

I look away, understanding where my father is coming from but not liking it. He is right. I am not safe. But it’s not only because he is the governor of South Carolina. There are entirely different reasons that only a few people know about.

Deciding to change the subject, I ask, “What exactly happened after I was shot?”

“Flint set the school on fire. The librarian got you out before you could get injured even more. But you did get stage three burns on your right arm and leg,” Declan says in a worried tone and I look at my right arm. That’s why I am wrapped in bandages. But how did the fire burn me? That shouldn’t have happened... “Mrs. Ross said he was aiming straight for your heart. It’s a miracle it hit your lung.”

“You know I don’t believe in miracles, brother. It was just mathematics. I had 12.5 milliseconds of reaction time since I was standing 12 feet away. I couldn’t jump out of the way before he shot because he would just try again. And I couldn’t jump out of the way after he pulled the trigger. So, since it is possible to survive on one lung, I move to the left a little,” I explain in a bored tone and a look of surprise flickers across Agent Cross’s features before he hides it. My family, on the other hand, doesn’t bother hiding their shock.

“I guess we should have suspected as much,” Declan says and I smile weakly.

“Was anyone besides me hurt?” I ask and father shakes his head.

“Everyone got out before they could get injured.”

“What about Flint?”

“He was arrested and sentenced to life in jail after I gave permission to Devan to rough him up a bit,” father answers and I smile. I look at Devan and I give him a proud nod. He gives me a wink and I giggle. “Sweetheart.” I look back at my dad. “We need to discuss something.”

“What is it?”

“You are going to a new school two hours away from here. I bought a house for you and Agent Cross-”

“Wait. Hold up. Did you just say I have to share a house with Agent Silence over here?” I ask and Agent Cross scoffs.

“It is the safest choice. Continuing on, Agent Cross will be attending school with you, posing as a high schooler. He is to accompany you everywhere you go. You shouldn’t go somewhere by yourself. You are in danger, Dawn. This is the safest option.”

I look at the agent meant to protect me. He is staring at me with a blank look and I purse my lips together. He may not be able to protect me from every danger out there.

“Fine.” I look back at my father. “May I see the house you purchased?”

He goes on his phone and pulls up the site with the house on it. once he has the house pulled up, he shows me and I scroll through the pictures. I see a pool and I smile.

“Not so bad. The pool makes it better.” Dad chuckles and mom grabs my hand. I take in her hooded eyes, dark circles around her eyes, eye bags, slouched posture. She looks exhausted. My father looks the same as his wife. “You guys should go home and get some rest.”

“But you just woke up, sweetie. We can’t leave you now.”

“You can. I am fine. I’m awake. Nothing is wrong. It’s okay,” I say with a small smile. “Besides you all stink. Get some showers. That mean you two knuckle-heads as well.”

My brothers glare at me and I stick my tongue out at them. They give me their wide, bright smiles and I smile back at them. We look at our parents to see they are both nodding at each other.

“Fine. We’ll go. We’ll be back tomorrow,” Dad says and I nod. Everyone hugs me goodbye and they leave the room. I sigh and I look at Agent Cross and he stares at me. He looks tired. More tired than my family. Like he hasn’t slept in weeks.

“You should get some sleep, Agent Cross. You look tired.” He furrows his eyebrows before nodding slowly and moving to the couch.

“Wake me up if you need anything,” he says as he lays down on the couch. He immediately falls asleep and I sigh. I get as comfortable as I can and I start drifting off to sleep with one last thought in my head.

I have a bodyguard... From the FBI... The world hates me.

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