A world on fire
Fire crackles and swirls around me, scalding me with every pass. It pushes me further up the stone cliff, uninhibited and untamed. No way to control it. Like a rabid beast that craves nothing besides blood and destruction.
The flames close in on me, breathing in my fear and sweat, basking in it. Red and orange tongues lapping up everything around me – everything that I am. The world is on fire.
Everywhere I look, the fire beast is circling. I’m surrounded by the flames, with only the rocks beneath my feet to keep me company in my final moments.
My panic subsides as I accept my fate. Burns bubble and blisters pop all along my body as I cough up smoke with the few breaths I have left. Skin melds with cloth as they melt together.
I sink down and sit on the dirt, waiting to die and hoping death comes quickly. Begging and screaming for relief, for an end, the flames hear my cry and grant me reprieve as they close in and fill the remaining air between us in a swirl of fire.
A black nothing surrounds me now. It suffocates me – I can’t breathe. I can feel my soul leaving my body. Just as my final moments arrive, I wake up in bed instead.
My breathing is erratic but starts to even out quickly when I realize I’m home and not dying. The same room I’ve had my whole life brings me comfort after waking up from the reoccurring nightmare I’ve been having for almost a month now. It terrifies me to my core, sending anxiety shooting through my body.
Reoccurring nightmares involving elemental abilities are relatively common signs that I’m among the gifted. The Psychics. A lower class of human because we can bend certain elements to our will. Within reason. But only a small percentage of the population gain abilities once they reach a certain age. Seventeen to be precise. And today is my birthday.
These dreams are rarely prophetic, but not unheard of either. That’s what scares me the most. I want to tell my mom. I should tell my mom, but I’m not ready to leave. Once it’s known you’re a Psychic, you’re carted off to The Institute. It sounds nice, but it’s a camp of horrors for those with elemental abilities.
To make matters worse, Mom only has me left. An only child, her parents died a handful of years back, and Dad died of pancreatic cancer two years ago. I don’t want to put her through basically losing me, too.
I haven’t shown any physical signs of being Psychic yet, so I’m taking advantage and spending as much time as I can with her before I can’t anymore. This means I have to act normal and do normal things like go to school or she’ll know that something is different. It’s not what I want, but I’ll take what I can get right now.
So I get up, shower, get dressed, and brush my teeth and my hair in a huff. Mom is in the kitchen humming as she shuffles around some sizzling bacon when I make it downstairs. She’s wearing her turquoise scrubs and plain white sneakers. Ready for her workday.
Her wavy chestnut locks, which I’m lucky enough to have inherited, are pulled back into a tight bun. Her slender, 5’3” to my 5’4”, frame is smaller and more muscular than mine from years of running around the hospital answering calls. Although most consider us twins, Mom’s nose is pointed where mine is rounded, and her cheekbones rest a bit higher than mine.
She’s a great cook, but normally I fend for myself before school.
“What’s all this?” I ask, stunned. She turns and smiles at me. “What’s the occasion?”
“Morning Avalynne,” she says. “It’s your birthday! So, I thought you might want a nice breakfast is all.”
“Mom, please call me Ava,” I request for the hundredth time in the last month.
She’s the only one that calls me by my full name. I’ve been trying to get her to stop for seventeen years, but she still slips up once in a while.
“That’s right, I’m sorry,” she says. “I’ll be better about calling you by your nickname.”
“Thank you,” I say. “And you know I’m happy with my usual pop tarts or cereal. Plus I’m sure you need to get to work.”
“I know, I just wanted to do something nice for you since I’m always working,” she admits.
“Well, I’m not going to stop you if you want to cook,” I giggle, sitting at the table. “By all means, cook away!”
I’m not one to turn down bacon. And I’m thrilled Mom is in a good mood. They have been few and far between without Dad around. So, I watch her and smile as she goes back to the food. Bacon, eggs, and toast? That definitely improves my morning 110%. But then Mom leaves for work, a nurse at a family practice now, and I’m waiting at the bus stop before I can commit the entire experience to memory.
Marie, my best friend, nudges me with her elbow as the bus comes to a screeching halt in front of us. Her dirty blond hair lays dead straight about her face, shaping it nicely. She’s taller than most girls at our school, standing 5’9”, but she’s too awkward to play sports, although you’d think her athletic build would be perfect for them. Blue eyes, full lips, slender nose, and large boobs make her popular with the boys and she hates it.
“You’re quiet today,” she says. “Everything alright in that head of yours? It’s your birthday, you’re not allowed to be sad!”
“No, I’m not okay,” I sigh, stepping onto the bus with her right behind me. She waits until we are seated near the back, I get the window, before responding.
“Your Mom never yells,” she comments. “Even when you guys disagree on stuff. So, it can’t be anything like that.”
“No,” I say. I decide to just tell her about my dreams. I have to tell someone. “I’ve been having a nightmare pestering me lately and I’m worried about what it means.”
“Is it a stress dream?” she asks, as the bus lurches forward, away from our stop and onto the next. “Did you lose all your teeth? I can try to help you decipher it if you want.”
“No, it isn’t anything like that,” I insist.
“Well, quit being cryptic,” she pushes. “Out with it. You want to tell someone, that’s obvious.”
I chew on the inside of my cheek, nerves dancing along my chest. I know Marie won’t say anything if I ask her not to, that’s not what’s giving me anxiety. It will just become way more real if I say it out loud. But I have to tell someone. I have a bad feeling about it that I want her opinion on. No, I need her opinion.
“I had one of those dreams,” I whisper. “A Psychic dream.”
About the Creator
S. M. Risdon
A mom with a love for writing. I hope to be able to have my books published and see them in bookstores around the world!
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