Sometimes you don’t need much to inspire a story. I made the base idea for this one when i was sat in my local pub (called the firehouse) and the bar maid challenged me to come up with a story using the name of the pub for the title, here is the initial result.
Adam woke. He didn’t at first know why but he knew something was wrong. He tried to look around but the bedroom was pitch black. Reaching over he felt for his wife, Carol, but found she was not there, that was strange but maybe she had gotten up to use the toilet and that had woken him. Adam lay back in bed and thought he might go back to sleep, but something was still wrong. And then he smelt it. Smoke, something was burning. Sitting u he gave another deep breath of air and the smell came stronger. Something was burning and now he was more awake he thought he could even make out the cracks and pops of the flames.
Leaping from his bed he rushed to the bedroom door, guiding his way by instinct. He grabbed the door and wrenched it open, only to be hit in the face by a wall of thick black smoke and a wave of heat that made him gasp and his eyes burn and fill with tears. The fire was raging in full force downstairs, the landing lit by the occasional flame that leapt up through the banister, singing the stairs carpet. Adam covered his mouth and, rushed out into the hallway. The sounds of the fire was now rushing all around him, deafening him to anything else but still he knew he had to find his wife, where was she? He cupped his hands around his mouth and called for her, once, twice, three times but each time his voice was swallowed by the raging flames. Hurried now he took a few steps down the stairs but jumped back as a lick of flame whipped out at his bare legs, there was no way he would be able to get down there.
The smoke now was completely engulfing his vision and out of desperation he ran back to his room, which now was hardly any better than the rest of the house. Turning to close the door he saw the flames already completely engulfing the stairs and now starting to creep along the corridor towards him again. Adam slammed the door and ran to the window of his room. It didn’t open very far but that didn’t matter, grabbing his alarm clock off the bed side table he flung it against the glass which shattered into a thousand shards. Adam rushed over to it, intent on calling for help or maybe even clambering out but when he was a few steps away he screamed and fell backwards to the floor, clutching his foot which was now sporting a large jagged fragment of glass sticking from the sole.
Laying beneath the smoke he timidly removed the shard of glass and threw it across the room. Looking for something he may be able to wrap it in he saw the flames star to whip around timidly under the door that lead to the hall. The fire was spreading fast and Adam had no escape. Desperately looking around he had one last, crazy thought. The wardrobe was a big old thing made of solid oak, its door shut so firm it was almost air tight and it was another door between him and the fire getting to his feet, though taking all his weight with his left he hobbled over to the ornate piece of furniture and clambered inside, slamming the door quickly to keep out as much smoke as he could. Once inside he found it a little easier to breath though he knew he has no better off. The fire wouldn’t be stopped by the old wood and even as he stood there, surrounded by his shirts and Carol’s dresses he imagined that it was already getting hotter. Moving as far away as he could from the door, as if the fire would suddenly rip them open and grab him, he found himself to be edging back further into the wardrobe than he thought, surely it wasn’t this deep? That last thought came to him just a second before he lost his footing and tumbled backwards into open air.
Adam didn’t fall for long. Just enough time to register that he had fallen before his back hit solid ground. The impact knocked the air from his body and he lay there for a moment or so, breathing in thick pulls of air before he realised there was no smoke. The air was far from clear, where ever he was the air stunk of sulphur and there Adam’s mouth was still full of the bitter charcoal taste but it was easy to breath and he didn’t have the suffocating feeling he had in his burning house. Rolling onto his front Adam found he was lying on a mix of dirt and rock, as if outside somewhere but there had been no stars to see so he couldn’t be outside. There was also no sight of his burning house he had just fallen out of either. Pushing himself to his feet, still nursing his injured foot, Adam looked around and found himself in some sort of cave. It was more a tunnel than anything, the stone walls were dark and the dirt covering the floor looked as if it had not been disturbed for years. There was no way to go behind Adam so slowly and gingerly he followed the tunnel forward.
It was surprisingly warm in the cave and the ground under foot was even starting to become hot as Adam limped, unsure of where he was going but desperate to be anywhere but in that cave. Adam felt he must have been walking for about ten minutes when he heard the first sound. At first he guessed at Bats or maybe rats and tried to ignore it. But then it came again a few moments later, louder as he continued to walk, a strange scraping sound. Fear rising in him Adam tried his best to make himself quiet, trying to keep low, or as low as his injured foot would allow him, he crept onwards thought he cave, noticing how the heat was rising again. Adam started praying that he would reach an exit soon. And then he rounded a corner and saw it.
It was stood a few feet away from him. It looked human, thin, about 5’6. Its body was covered from head to foot in black burns, that cracked as it moved, opening long red tears I it’s skin and letting lose small streams of blood that pooled around its feet. When it turned to the side Adam saw that it had once been a female, the shape of breasts still somewhat visible though the same blackened charcoal as the rest of its body. As it turned it unleashed a small whimper, as if of pain and Adam felt a small twinge of pity.
Frozen to the spot Adam was wracked with terror, wondering why it hadn’t spotted him yet, it was now directly facing him but as it moved Adam had his answer. The things eyes were closed and burned that way by the looks of it. Shuddering slightly at the thought Adam thought he saw his chance. The thing stood blocking most of the tunnel ahead but there was a gap to its left, just big enough that he might be able to squeeze past without touching or alerting it. Holding his breath Adam crept forward again, fully conscious of every sound he made. Reaching the thing he turned to press his back to the wall and slowly slid his way along it, his heart pounding in his chest so hard he was amazed that the thing didn’t hear him. His bare back scraped along the stone wall, feeling every jagged rock along the way and it was all Adam could do not to wince every time he needed put weight on his injured foot.
When Adam was parallel to the thing, when he was almost past it he realised that its body was giving off immense heat, then, it slowly started to turn back around, following his movements until it was face to face with him. Its breath smelt like the thick smoke he had been breathing when he was in his house and its features had all but melted from its face. Slowly, as the two were stood face to face the things eyes started to peel open and for one heart stopping moment Adam expected to see its fried egg eyes staring right into his. But as the eyelids slowly peeled away from each other only a thick yellow puss leaked away from its eye sockets, its eyes completely melted by whatever had burnt it. Adam fought to supress a gag as he stood staring into those hollow sockets before he finally regained control of his legs, squeezing past the creature and staggering away up the tunnel a few feet before pausing to breathe again.
Like a car crash he couldn’t help but look back at the thing, stood twitching in the opening trying to look around with its empty eyes. Adam’s pity rose again as he looked on at it, hopelessly lost and surely in constant pain. When his breath as his own again he turned to continue walking taking his first step he slipped on a rock and clattered loudly to the ground.
The thing jerked round. Its head looking around, trying to find there the noise had come from, clearly still able to hear. Adam dragged himself to his feet and hobbled a few steps, turning round to see the thing taking a lurching step after him. Panicked he dragged himself forward, making more noise than he should have but he didn’t care. He could hear the thing behind him in the tunnel, its moans and whine echoing around him. Desperate Adam dragged himself faster, managing to ignore the pain that shot through his injured foot with every step, praying again, this time for a way out of this nightmare hoping that he would wake and find himself in his bed with his wife next to him, pleading for this to be a dream.
And then he saw it, a light at the end of the tunnel. A glow the size of a penny coin hovering ahead of him. Letting out a cry of relief he pulled himself to his limit, pain exploding in his leg and he limped along the tunnel. The light was getting closer. The thing was still in chase, following his grunts of pain. He seemed so close to the light now, the smell of sulphur was thinning and he could feel a cold breeze on his skin. Then something lurched to his right and a shadow rose up at him. It was another of the things, wider and taller, a male with a huge blister on its chest that ruptured as it reached out its arms for him. Somehow Adam managed to roll his body and the thing lurched past him.
Crying in pain now Adam reached the hole of light. It was about the size of a car tyre and Adam could see the cold grey sky outside it. Dropping to the floor he forced hi head and right arm through it, digging his fingers into grass on the other side he pulled as hard as he could wrenching his other arm through to pull at the ground with both arms. Then he felt something clamp around his ankles. Screaming he kicked wildly and his injured foot connected with something burning hot and brittle and his leg was released. Adam dragged himself clear of the hole and lay on the cold wet grass, listening to one of the creatures scream, which slowly faded to a whimper and then silence.
When Adam sat up he found himself in the community park, it was early morning and there was no one around. Slowly getting to his feet he gazed around the deserted clearing, never before so happy to see sunlight but there was something dark and foreboding in his heart and when he looked at the treeline he saw a cloud of smoke rising up in the distance and knew it was from his home.
Adam wasn’t sure how long it took him to reach his house. He walked in a daze, ignoring and being ignored by those few people he passed. When he reached the burnt shell of his house the firemen were already there and the fires already out. The world seemed mute to Adam as he walked passed the huge fire truck. The men were talking but Adam couldn’t hear them even if he had been trying. He opened the door to his home and walked inside. Everything was blackened and charred, the expensive TV he had bought had shattered, the faux polar bear rug nothing but cinders. The stairs were falling apart as he made his way up them and along the corridor that lead to his bedroom, the artwork nothing but black frames on the wall. His bedroom was as black to him as when he had first woken up, the stench of smoke filling everything. He walked over to the bed, the covers pulled right up over it. And he breathed heavily, his hand gripping the burnt quilt. He breathed in and pulled it back.
What he saw made him whimper and all the remaining strength went from his legs, he collapsed to the floor. The two creatures were lying in the bed. Dead and twisted into contorted poses, their mouths open in continuous screams. Adam sprawled on the floor. Looking at the dead bodies of him and his wife until his world faded away around him.