"The Fire Lady" was published in Fighting Chance, Winter 2004 Issue.
It is one of three Flash Fiction stories (under 1,000 words) that I have attempted. I feel more comfortable in longer stories. It is hard - at least for me - to develop characters, plot and keep the story going in so few words.
I don't feel this is my best work, but the story still holds a certain charm for me. The young boy Tom reminds me of one of my nephews - an imagination better than any book or movie. This same nephew seems to remind both of my sisters and my mother of how I used to be - and hopefully still am.
The Fire Lady
Tom and Andy stood in the alley beside the general store and watched the train go by. The long chain of boxcars slithered down the tracks like some giant, poorly built mechanical snake.
"What d’you s’pose is in those cars, Tom?" Andy asked. He looked down at Tom; a small four year old boy with deep brown eyes that were out of place next to his blonde hair.
"Lots of different stuff," Tom replied. He looked up at the tall man beside him and smiled. Andy had a head full of long stringy red hair that was always falling into his eye (a mean dog took one of his eyes when he was young). Andy’s skin was ghost white — but that was hard to see under the thick layer of grime that covered him.
Tom didn’t care that Andy was dirty, or that he only had one eye. Andy was his best friend.
"What kinda different stuff?" Andy asked.
Suddenly a clap of thunder exploded in the sky, and Andy felt the wave roll over his body. Tom began to look around frantically. His lips were quivering as he tried to speak. "Something is happening. Something bad."
"What do you mean bad?"
Before Andy got his answer another clap of thunder roared above. The sound was deafening and the blast wave was so strong it knocked Andy and Tom off their feet. The sky came alive with a moment of rippling fire, then the town’s lights were extinguished.