Afterburn: Chapter 3

Continuing from Afterburn: Chapter 2 Sarah Meyers had a problem with fire. No, she wasn't afraid of it nor did she tote around matches to satisfy any psychological pyromaniac desires, regardless what her therapist thinks. Sadly, her problem was much crazier than her poor therapist could comprehend. Sometimes, if she was angry or scared enough, things around her tended to catch on fire. Sometimes it just happened to be a small trashcan, but other times it could end up being an entire barn. Outside of the possibility of being delusional, which Sarah doesn't buy, she isn't the typical teenage girl. The barn fire forced her father to move the family to his hometown of Sanctuary, Rhode Island, hoping the family name and history would be strong enough to dampen the actions of his delinquent daughter. Now, Sarah has to start the game all over again. New school, more people to avoid, and try desperately to keep herself from setting anymore fires. Sarah soon finds out that some of the kids are not quite like the rest of the others, either. No, there is an old secret in this town that may provide Sarah with answers, but what she may find could be more terrifying than high school, and that's pretty scary.   Even though I was still upset with Alton for getting me to go out with him, Annie, and her boyfriend, I had to admit that I ended up having a lot fun. The movie had been terrible, but expected. A good movie based on a book is a rare thing anymore. My new friends enjoyed cracking jokes throughout the movie that had me crying tears of mirth. There were even a couple of moments where the Fed almost made me pee myself. I didn’t even know that kid could talk, let alone be a riot. We had walked to the small ice cream shop across the street from the theater, which I was told was the best in the entire universe by Annie. Her face was so serious when she said that this, that I think she actually believed it. And, honestly, it was totally that good. I was content in my own world lapping up the chocolate heaven that was slowly beginning to melt from the cone in my hand, blissfully ignoring the fact that Alton was staring at me the entire time. The evening was so nice, we decided to walk home through the park. I knew that Annie and the Fed would be breaking off as soon as we found the same spot in the park where we all met earlier. I had graciously allowed Alton to escort me from my home to the others. By graciously, I meant with a scowl, since he had taken it upon himself to come get me from my house. My mother, doing nothing to discourage him, invited him in and showed him up to my room, where a baffled but quickly irritated me opened my bedroom door to them both. Alton said a quick hi, did a quick once over of the room, before inviting himself in with a clearly amused smile on his face, enjoying the invasion of my personal space a little too much. Even though I now wasn’t particularly thrilled to be left alone with him again. Alton had been nice enough not to question me too much throughout the night, choosing to stick to similar interests of books and movies. Annie was yelling at the Fed, playfully, as he chased her about with his ice cream cone. For a quick moment I allowed myself to imagine that this must be what having friends is like. Smiling as your best friend is being chased by her teasing boyfriend. Anticipating the next day, so you can call her and gossip about the cute boy that couldn’t keep his eyes off of you throughout the whole movie. It was a fun little fantasy, but like most of my fantasies, short lived as the reality of my life ripped through these dreams, quickly reminding me of burning barns. I would never be able to have a normal life like this, and I don’t know why I keep letting myself fall so easily instep with it, when I’ve been proven time and time again that this kind of life just will never be for me. The break in the path came quickly with my inner musings. Annie laughed and waved goodbye as she jumped on the Fed’s back. He thought it would be a good idea to run as fast as he could causing Annie to shriek and call out behind that she would call me whether I liked it or not tomorrow. I just blinked stupidly after them perplexed by the similarity of my mini daydream. “She’s a good friend, and she can be one for you, too, if you give her a chance,” Alton’s voice vibrated softly next to my ear, his close proximity startling the ice cream right out of my hand. I turned sharply to face him, poking my finger into his hard chest before saying, “Do you know what personal space is? I actually liked that ice cream.” Alton had the damn nerve to smirk at me, which just infuriated me even more, before he replied, “I’ll just have to buy you another one on our next date.” After which, he promptly turned and started strolling languidly down our path, leaving me standing there, mouth agape. First this guy had the nerve to practically invade my life, and now he assumed that we were on a date? I wonder how smug he would feel with his jacket ablaze. As tempting as that thought was, I had to be careful, because I was annoyed enough to actually do it. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes before counting to ten. “You just going to hang out there all night or are you coming?” Alton called out softly from the tree he had decided to lean against. I opened one of my eyes to stare back at him while continuing my deep breaths. I shut it tightly again, hearing him chuckle, and counted to ten again for good measure before striding forward. He fell into step beside me with a smug smile on his face. “We are not on a date,” I said staring straight ahead at the path before us. He chuckled again. I was really beginning to hate that sound. “I don’t know, Sarah? I did pick you up from your house, buy your ticket, and share my popcorn with you at the movies. That sounds date-ish to me. And, let’s not forget that I’m gallantly escorting you home,” Alton had the nerve to bow like he was some gentleman type from the nineteenth century. Now I was pretty irate and was about to give the guy a piece of my mind when the glint of something silver from the corner of my eye kept me frozen to the spot. The sinking fear I felt was confirmed when I looked at Alton’s face. His eyes were wide and fixed directly behind my left shoulder. I felt a strong hand grip that same shoulder and something firmly poking my lower back. “Nice and slowly, give me your money,” a gruff and rancid voice stated next to my ear. My breathing grew rapid, as the object on my back was pushed further forward, poking me sharply. I must have made a noise, because Alton’s eyes immediately found mine instantly mirroring the panic that I felt. “No funny business, boy, and I won’t slide this blade into your girlfriend. Just give me your money,” the voice sneered. Alton brought his hands up slowly, making sure my captor understood he was willing to comply. He gulped loudly before saying evenly, “Look, I’ll give you my wallet, just don’t hurt her, please.” Alton looked defeated as he slowly reached for his back pocket. I felt the knife shake against me as he chuckled menacingly. I guess Alton’s surrender satisfied him enough that he decided to get cocky, which was a really big mistake. “I don’t know. The girl is awfully pretty. I might just slice up her face just because I can,” he breathed out, amusement clearly in his voice. I certainly wasn’t amused. No I was pissed. Forgive me for losing my cool when someone threatens to slice up my face. Unfortunately for me and especially for chuckles behind me, being pissed off isn’t the only thing that happens when I lose my cool. That was when I felt the knife being pulled quickly away from my back, and the guy began shrieking in fright. I looked at Alton and saw a light dancing in his eyes effectively hiding his expression from me. Spinning around I found my assailant desperately trying to pull off his coat, which was now being consumed by fire. Alton reached out and grabbed my arm yanking my back beside him. The mugger managed to shrug out of the coat before getting injured and took his new found freedom with him as he bolted back down the path and towards the town. I expected a lot of things to happen next, like Alton grabbing me and pulling me towards our homes. Maybe even Alton freaking out and hugging the crap out of me. What I did not expect was Alton putting out the fire. I should rephrase that. I didn’t expect how Alton put out the fire. We were standing near a pond that had gone unnoticed by me until I saw a fluid stream arc out of it, completely on its own, and smoothly smother out the flames on the coat as if ponds do this type of thing all of the time. For someone with the tendency to set fires at any random moment just by thinking about it, one would think that a little water floating up out of a pond wouldn’t be as alarming. It sure is. Yeah, I totally freaked and grabbed poor Alton’s hand squeezing the hell out of it, which he returned with enthusiasm, making me assume he was also having issues dealing with what was happening. Then Alton spoke, “Personally, I would have aimed for his shoes. Would have gotten him running quicker, but the coat was just as effective.” I broke from his grip, spinning to face him. I could see the ghost of a smirk fade off of Alton’s face. I could feel my pulse begin to race and the air around me start to crackle. Alton must have felt the sudden change, because he quickly put his hands up in a defensive position. “Whoa, whoa! Calm down! I am not going to hurt you. I am just like you. Please just take a breath and calm down,” Alton pleaded with me. “Don’t tell me to calm down! Who are you?” I growled bringing my hands up as a shield. “What the hell do you want with me?” “Nothing!” Alton cried, “Hell, you act as if you don’t know what you are?” He stopped then and looked at me, ice blue icy jumping across to study me, before hesitantly asking, “You don’t know what you are?” “What the hell do you mean by what I am?” I bit back at him, as a tiny lit spark of fire flashed quickly in the space between our feet before extinguishing. Alton’s eyes quickly dropped to the flame eyeing the spot it left warily. He voiced pleaded shakily, “Look, I am just like you. Not with the whole fire thing, but we are the same,” he swallowed before continuing, “You clearly don’t know about your family or your grandmother. We heard stories about your grandmother keeping it a secret from your father after your grandfather died, but we thought he would have figured it out. Especially with all of your suspected arson incidents.” “What the hell are you talking about?” I growled, my fear slowly dissipating into anger. Alton was clearly not going to hurt me, but it didn’t mean I would just easily trust him. “My family has nothing to do with my abilities, Alton. I am a freak of nature.” “Yeah, well you’re not the only one, and definitely not the first one in your family. The Meyers have quite the history, something that either was well-hidden from your father or he has conveniently chose to ignore,” He bravely tried to slowly step forward, quickly stopping when a flash of fire lit up quickly at his feet, snuffing out in warning. He nodded when his gaze moved slowly up from the spot and caught my narrowed eyes. I raised up a finger to him and seethed, “Leave me alone,” before turning on the spot and bolting down the path towards my house. I could hear Alton call after me, but it seemed he was smart enough not to follow me. My lungs began to slowly burn with my speed, but I forced myself to listen to the sound of my feet hitting the pavement. I refused to focus on anything other than getting into the safety of my bedroom. The lush green area shifted to residential houses, and I kept running. Somehow my feet new where to go. The brick walls identifying my neighborhood appeared, and my eyes focused quickly in on my gate. Gasping for air, when I reached it, I slammed in the code, relieved to hear the wrought iron groaning loading as it begin to move on its hinges. Bolting for the last time to the safety of the house. The lights were off, which was a welcoming sight. That meant that my parents hadn’t made it home yet, and I am sure I didn’t look like a normal kid that just came home from hanging out with friends. I quickly locked the doors up behind me, resetting the security system. I stopped long enough through the kitchen to grab a bottle of water from the fridge, chugging it as I slowly trudged my now aching feet up the stairs. My grandmother greeted me at the top. Her expression unchanging since when I had left with Alton, but I was the one now changed. I stared into her green eyes distrusting what I saw, and asked her, “What am I?” Expecting no answer, I simply sighed and said, “Goodnight, Grandmother,” then lumbered, defeated, down the hall and into my bedroom.