Burn

Photo by Greg Bishop

Prompt of the day

The title of today’s prompt was in fact the Alfred quote from The Dark Knight – “some men just want to watch the world burn.”

When I thought of burning, the first thing that popped into my head, since I’ve been watching so much of it lately was [SPOILERS – major spoilers in the link] Moriarty’s threat to Sherlock on the BBC’s reinvention of the story – 

I will burn you. I will burn the heart out of you.

The actual prompt just asks for a group of people enthralled by the burning of something, but I really liked that aspect of chaos and violence, the destruction of order. I couldn’t quite tie something together that worked for me, but those concepts and this photo worked for me, so short as it is, this is what I’m working with for this. Maybe sometime I’ll be able to come back  and take a look at that quote and that picture and figure something out that really nails both of them.

As the fire spread its fingers and reached across the gaps to enclose their party, Jacqueline was mesmerized by the dancing of the flames. With the fire so close, and with no escape open to their backs, Jacqueline had to move, to help James stop it, but she felt stupefied by the heat and the sheer force of the dancing spectre. And for a second, dazzled by the horrible beauty of it, Jacqueline considered simply falling into it, imagining that the fire would whisper at her skin and wrap around her like silk shimmering in a breeze. And then her rationale kicked back in, and reminded her that to burn alive would be nowhere near as gentle as her addled fantasy.

Behind her, the mother and her son curled up as tightly as they good against the boulder that both trapped and protected them. The mother twisted back and forth, trying to spread herself wide enough to completely shield the little boy, but Jacqueline could still see one blue eye, wide and terrified, peeking from the crook of her elbow.

The traders they had met at the last check-point were shouting and jostling each other, torn between self-preservation and trying to save what they could of their wares at the edge of the camp. Occasionally they would scream at James, trying to force him to produce a way out. James, to his credit, did all he could to find an escape, a way to climb the boulder, or create a path through the fire. But as Jacqueline watched him dash back and forth, probing the rock and examining the path of the fire, already spreading outwards from the treeline, she knew that there would be no way out.

If the fire had started the way she expected, it would be expertly crafted – no holes, no escape. Her hand rose to her chest and pressed against the inner pocket of her jacket. Nestled inside were the emmigration papers for her and James. One of the last chances to reach the safety of the capital city. They had tried to keep it a secret from the Combine, disguising their exodus as a holiday, but in the outer cities there was little that could be kept from the Combine’s cameras. And if the Combine wasn’t going to get those papers, they would burn with the traitors that held them.

Although, the Combine rarely wasted when waste could be avoided. Jacqueline watched the pattern of the fire, and saw that it had completely engulfed their camp but was not burning inwards. This didn’t improve their chances, already the traders were hacking and sputtering, and Jame’s face was blackened and streaked by the smoke and sweat. Soon they would all suffocate, leaving husks of bodies, undamaged and intact. Jacqueline was prepared to die – she had been expecting it since she and James had decided to take the papers. But she was not prepared to forfeit to the Combine. She drew the papers out of her pocket and unfolded them. She sauntered to fireline, the heat tightening the skin across her face, and thrust the papers into the fire. She let them drop as they curled and blackened into nothing.

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