Out of the Ashes by Carrie Zylka | Fantasy | Copyright 2016 | Phoenix rising…
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“Out of the Ashes” Copyright 2016 Carrie Zylka
The tiny old lady felt the searing heat as the flames crept closer; she crawled under the bed and scooted back against the wall.
The building was on fire, and Claudette was trapped on the fifth floor. Having been sound asleep before the smell of smoke woke her up, she knew the fire had been raging for some time.
The irony of last week’s conversation with her neighbor was not lost on her. They had both complained that the building was a fire hazard, with exposed wiring and outdated fixtures.
The living room of her tiny apartment was already engulfed in flames and she was trapped in her bedroom. Trying to escape the smoke she got down low, tears streaming down her face. This was certainly not how she had planned on dying.
She thought back over the years she had been alive. Thought about her two children, grown with families of their own and of her darling husband who had passed almost a decade back. While she was afraid, she was ready to meet her husband in the great beyond. But the thought of meeting him looking like she’d taken a dip in a deep fryer was not exactly on the agenda. She prayed the firefighters would get to her in time.
Claudette jumped as the beams in the ceiling gave way, showering the bed with embers and burning bits.
It was getting too warm in there. The air was so hot it burned her throat. She knew she would probably die of smoke inhalation before the flames actually burned her up, but she could feel the angry blisters forming on her arms and face. The fire was hungry, eagerly devouring the old woman’s apartment.
She let out a wail of pure terror as the mattress suddenly caught fire and the flames licked at her wispy hair. She beat about her head and tried to crawl further against the wall.
She moaned in pain as her nightgown caught fire and the flames licked at her skin. The agony was nearly unbearable and panic caused her chest to constrict.
The floorboards blistered and tiny bits of wood pressed into her skin, like sharp needles. The bed frame gave way and the burning mattress fell on top of her, surrounding her frail body with jabbing hot metal coils and burning cotton. The pain was unbearable and she wished for it to be over.
And just like that it was.
Blackness descended and she sighed her last breath.
Every bone in Claudette’s body felt bruised. Her skin felt raw and she heard voices above her. She blinked rapidly as the charred remains of her bed were lifted off her by several firefighters.
They began talking at once and cleared more debris off her. One reached down to help her to her feet but she brushed his hand away.
Amid the blackened apartment, with smoke trails surrounding them, standing on floorboards that creaked and moaned, Claudette stood.
She stood six feet tall with a mane of long auburn hair. Bright eyes set above chiseled cheekbones stared at the men staring back at her.
Her body was that of a twenty year old. Lean and strong, skin unmarred and perfect. The men stared in awe.
Claudette clutched her head as the “memories” came crashing down. She fell to her knees revealing the intricate phoenix tattooed on her back.
Memories of a forgotten race dating back to the world’s creation.
A line comprised of a single creature, living different lives over and over. All the memories and wisdom flooded her mind until it seemed they would never end. Her mind was awash with images of hundreds of lives.
She didn’t know why she had forgotten all of this in the old lady body, she could have taken solace in the knowledge she would be reborn. And would at some point in the future again and again.
Shaking off the last of the mental onslaught, she looked up at the astonished men and smiled, revealing perfect teeth.
And like nothing the men had ever seen before, the phoenix rose from the ashes.