The moon gave a diminutive shine of light upon the burning building like a tinted window on a fresh white car. The building was colossal with the shadow of the fire laying upon me. We rushed in with full force with an objective to get as many people out as possible.
“Let’s do this, people!” Chief exclaimed as we dashed up the stairs. “Save as many people as you can!”
My partner Ruiz and I took the third staircase and, without a second thought, he flew up into the choking wall of smoke. He was normally cheerful like a kid on their birthday but today he was serious – I couldn’t complain, though; this was a no joke situation. As we got to floor 32, we struck through the entrance door calling out, “Is anyone here? We’re here to help!”
“It’s better if we split up.” Ruiz said.
“Ok, back here in five.” I replied.
Without wasting another second, I spun to my left and sprinted across the hall covering my mouth with my safety mask. Bashing on every door I could see, with all my might, I was convinced that no one was there until I heard what sounded like the weeping of a young voice emanating from behind door 132. I then rammed my shoulder again and again against the door until the hinges tore apart and the door slammed flat on the ground in front of me. A boy who must have been about 3 was cowering in the corner of the room. To my left, I could see the fire beginning to reach in from the window.
“Hey kid, I’m here to help,” I said to the boy in a soothing voice.
“Hi,” He replied, trembling.
“Let’s get you out of here, shall we?”
I grabbed him, placed him on my shoulder and charged towards the nearest exit, but something was happening. The ceiling started to groan with the fire roaring above it. Dust began pouring into the room as the walls crumbled around us, and I knew we were in trouble. As the cracks grew larger and larger with the ceiling caving in, I was starting to think that this was the end. With every fibre in my body, I sprinted into the room in front of me trying to find another way out; I thought of jumping, but as I looked out the window, the ground felt like it was a thousand miles beneath us and I knew it would be impossible. Awaiting my death, all my emotions were surging and the thought of never being able to see my family again, tore my heart apart. But this was the end. We were running out of time and with the flames erupting around us, I knew the burning cement would eventually get to us. My muscles had started to tense up as if a grizzly bear had wrapped itself around me, crushing my bones.
“Where will I burn first?”, I asked myself. “How long will it take? Will it hurt?”
As I was sitting there, I could hear the young boy crying beneath my arms and I knew that I had failed my job.
“Sorry,” I said.
It was like we were in the belly of a volcano. The cracks were splitting the walls – raging with fire, it felt like hell. The end that was initially just a thought became the end that was inevitable.
I took a deep breath, waiting…