Inventum Student Works

Three. Two. One

Emma Stewart class of 2014

The darkness overwhelms me; the silence is frightening. I fold myself into a ball in the corner, hoping maybe he won’t find me this way. The moon light shines through the ratty old curtains, opening up the room. For a moment I lose sight of what I’m hiding from and look around this old broken house. The floor boards are creaky, dusty, and some are broken. The walls are covered in pictures and paintings that are uneven, cobwebs consume them, making it impossible to see the details. A burnt piano stands shakily on the other side of the room; the furniture is old, burnt and torn. “What is this place?”, I ask myself, an old half burned-down house? Not just any old burnt house, the mystery that has held this town with questions for years. The only house on the mile long street, on the other side of the forest from the edge of mid-town. No one quite knows how, but the house was set on fire: everyone and almost everything burned to death that night. The only thing that didn’t is one of the girls: the eldest of three children was saved by a boy who showed up out of nowhere. Wolves live in the house now, at least that’s what I’ve been told. As I study the visible spaces, I get a feeling that I know this place, I just don’t know from where. This consciousness brings me to reality as I hear creaks outside. I’m petrified again. Did he find me? Is this how it ends? My heart pounds in my throat. I’m afraid to breathe. The wind whistles outside, and trees crash against the side of the house. The door swings open. My heart skips a beat; I can’t catch my breath. I make myself as small as I can, hiding in the corner of a shadow. I peer under my arm ever so slightly. Nothing’s there. Silence. Nothing but the sound of my own heart beating. I look around, studying everything I see to make sure nothing’s there. Should I leave? Do I have the strength to get up and run? I won’t be able to trick and outrun it again, there’s no way. It was close behind me as I came to the front door of the house, is it waiting outside? I hear a howl from a distance. That has to be what it is, a wolf.

I stand up slowly, still keeping myself within the shadow. I wait a minute and run. As I get to where the opening of the door is, the light fades and becomes dark. There’s no door! It was there a minute ago, the light shining in; now it’s just a wall. No light, no opening, just brick. I run past the stairs that go to the second floor, through the kitchen and living room to the back doors. I open the curtains, looking into the forest where I need to run. Beaming red eyes catch my attention. They get closer, stepping into the moonlight. It’s him. I stumble back and fall to the ground; I don’t look back, but crawl behind the sofa. I sit a moment with my lip quivering, body sweating, heart pounding out of my chest as fear overtakes me. I get up and sprint to the front of the house, hoping to see another door or get out through a window. As I’m running, the windows I pass close up with brick. I see the front windows closing brick by brick, I’m being trapped. There’s no way out. I hear glass breaking from the back doors. I instantly run up the stairs towards the light at the top. I follow the path of the light, passing bedrooms. Everything’s burnt. I pass a little girl’s room and everything slows down. Memories are flooding back. All of a sudden I see a little girl about seven years old. She is sitting on the floor in a white dress with purple flowers, playing with a doll house. I hear screams from down the stairs, as I turn my head to where the noise is coming from the house changes into colour and it’s no longer dark outside. The burn marks that once devoured the walls are gone, and the house seems alive with love and family. Everything’s moving in slow motion. Loud breathing is all I hear; panic is all I feel, I look back to the room and the girl, flames surround her suddenly. Her eyes become sunken with fear, she stands there paralyzed in shock as the flames engulf everything around her. Our eyes meet. I see into her soul, her heart, her mind. It’s me. I close my eyes and count down from three like when I was little. If something I didn’t like was happening, my mum would tell me to close my eyes and count down from three with her, and when I open my eyes all the bad would be gone and everything would be okay again. Three. Two. One.

I open my eyes and am in the room going up in flames. I look past the flames to the older version of me from today staring back. I don’t know what to do. I try to scream, but no sound comes out. I feel the heat of the flames as they destroy everything around me. I feel my throat getting tighter, I can’t breathe. My surroundings become blurred as I collapse to the ground. I see someone’s feet: a man. He uses his shirt to pound at the flames dividing the two of us. He bends down and picks me up. His muscles confine my limp body; his bravery astounds me. He rushes down the stairs and out the front door, laying me on the ground as fire trucks surround my home that is now up in flames. I close my eyes.

I open them. “It’s not just a dream, but a dream of the reality that has already happened,” I say looking at my therapist, “every night I have this dream, something becomes clearer. The timing of the fire, or who the man is.”

“Do you feel you owe something to this man and that’s why you are trying to figure out: who he is subconsciously?”

“I will forever be in debt to this man for his bravery, and selflessness, and fortitude for saving my life and I don’t even know his name.”

“This man who saved you?”

“Yes. His heroism is breathtaking, and I want him to know that his act of courage and strength is appreciated and that I am beyond grateful that he took that strength and saved my life. But I don’t even know his name.”

I take a deep breath thinking of the man I will forever call a hero and I close my eyes. Three. Two. One.