Lariat

BurnedHospital_2.jpg

The bright light from the fire flickered from across the room, only cutting out for short moments by the cover of fleeing civilians. The section of the Guild had become a prison, with its flaming warden blocking the only route to freedom. It’s smoke fanned out across the room slowly tightening its noose like grip. It circled looking for something, or someone, from among the panic-stricken masses of our cage. All I could do was lay here and watch, pinned under-knee of the likely cause. This imposing man with hands as rough as sandpaper, holding my head down to the floor, wheezed as he scrambled to peak over the row of chairs that hid us in the back of the room. The more I tried to break free the tighter his vice like grip pinched down on my head, “Just be quiet or they’ll find us!” the exasperated voice rained down.

My tools lay in a jumbled mess across the floor, the case I had put together now broken on the ground underneath one of the chairs in front of me, only serving to increase my already oxygen deprived panting. The patter of shoes echoed the room between the shouts, as the chaos sank deeper and deeper into those that actually could move. I couldn’t see their harrowed faces from where I remain perched, only the worn and torn shoes and boots that repeatedly caught my gaze. The only solace being the occasional waft of their usual stink, that was slowly drown out by the smell of burning anesthetics and those less fortunate down the hall.

I drifted back to the day, thinking it was going to be such an easy job after we left that run down town. All the materials for the roof were already taken by the fire, too damaged to use even if we put the fire out. What was I supposed to tell Anna if I got out of this? That I wasted a full week's work on some crazy stunt just to come out with nothing? All I was supposed to get for this job, was now burning down before I even finished. The family I hadn’t started would remain a dream out of reach. My hyperventilating sobbing started to drown out everything else around me, delivering another swift blow to the back of my head. “Hey shut up! We’re gonna get caught if you don’t keep your voice down.” The taste of blood and smoke became the gag that kept me quiet.

Suddenly the sound of nozzles shooting rang through the air as the fire ahead of us died down. Shouts and disgruntled voices rushed in from the hallway as the gang of vigilantes made their way inside the room. The chair is in the way and I only see their dirty boots or plague invested feet mucking across the ground. They began to herd everyone they could find and dash everything in their way. Faces struck the ground in front of me as people were tossed around for sport as they were being gathered like cattle.

One more pair waltz into the room, silencing the rabble with almost king-like grace. It stood out from the rest, a gorgeous set of boots rest in front of my eyes, barely a grain of dirt covering them. The owners pants tucked neatly into the top of the boots. The small flames that remain moved out of his way as he walked, as though they were bowing down to him. The advance stops, “Come on out Stewart. We got some business to discuss.”. The hand on my head clenched down and I could feel the violent shaking running through the knee on my back. Just who was the owner of those boots and what kind of mess was I being dragged into.