All right, it took me a while, but I’ve finally got my No Fear Blogfest Entry. The blogfest is hosted by Dominic at Writes of Passage. It’s a stand alone story based on something I wrote a long time ago. Probably not worth the wait, but here it is. Hope you enjoy.
The heat slammed into Alex like a bus as she stepped through the door. She heard the flames, somewhere downstairs, by the sound. Where she had to go. Though outside the sun sparkled in a cloudless summer sky, Alex could barely see a foot in front of her. Fear clawed at her, and she pushed it down. She couldn’t leave, not yet. Not without what she’d come back for.
“Peach!” She choked on the word as smoke filled her lungs. That cat would be the death of her, she’d always joked; she didn’t want to be proved right. She felt her way through the suffocating black smoke to where she knew the couch would be and grabbed the afghan which hung over the back. She threw it over her shoulders and head and with one hand, covered the lower half of her face like Bela Lugosi. Peach! She screamed inside her head; words were impossible now. Peach wouldn’t be up here anyway; she’d be downstairs, hiding.
The stairs protested madly but held up as Alex felt her way into the basement. Her hands guided her as she squeezed shut useless eyes. She’d sprung awake to the shriek of the smoke detector. She had been ironing clothes for her job interview tomorrow before curling up with Peach for one of her frequent mid-afternoon naps. She was sure she turned it off; certain of it. She rolled out of bed still not fully conscious of her plight. Her legs thought for her, and carried her to the door. Only when she hit the sidewalk did the true weight of the situation hit her. And that was when she went back.
She didn’t know how the catnip wound up in her hands, and she didn’t care. On hands and knees now to keep most of the smoke above her, she frantically spread the kitty pot on the floor. Alex prayed the scent would coax Peach out, but it was a fool’s hope. Peach was a coward even by feline standards, though not any less brave than Alex herself had become since Bobby left. She’d been a gift from Bobby, but Peach had attached herself to him much more than to Alex. After Bobby’s…disappearance, the cat disappeared, too, under the bed, behind the furnace, and even inside the woodwork somehow. In her own way, Alex had been doing the same for weeks now. Only recently had the two neglected girls begun to bond, held together by grief. Alex stared at the catnip as if they were magic beans refusing to grow. Nothing. She had to get out, no matter how much she loved Peach. The smoke was unbearable, and her head was level enough to know that if she stayed, she was dead.
She turned toward the stairs and heard the sound. Even over the din of the blaze, she recognized Peach’s cry just as she reached the bottom step. She turned back and saw Peach peeking out from behind the water heater. She look terrified as she staggered hesitantly toward Alex. Alex crawled forward, trying to meet her halfway. She dropped to the floor and Peach curled up next to her. It was getting harder to think, and nearly impossible to breath. She wouldn’t leave without Peach; she was all Alex had left, all of Bobby she had left. They were together now, though. In the din of her mind, she thought she heard voices from above, men’s voices, urgent. And footsteps. The fire department. She would be alright, or Peach would, at least. Curled up in Alex arms, the cat couldn’t be missed. Alex smiled. Now she could rest.