Archive for June 22nd, 2011

22nd June
written by amber

The Firefighter

It was only 9 p.m. and I’d already put out five fires. Even though my territory had just been enlarged to 100,000 ha, this was unusual. And now I had another fire. I keyed the annunciator to speak to the resident.

“Mam, mam, there’s a fire in your kitchen. You’ll have to evacuate your apartment.” She was asleep in front of her screen wall and I had to use the shriller to get her attention.

“Oh shit, it’s my stew. Just let me go take it off the stove.” Old-fashioned cursing, old-fashioned cooking. If it wasn’t for anachronists, I wouldn’t have a job at all.

“No, mam, you have to evacuate now. I’m about to trigger the suppressant.”

“Can’t you just use the water mist? You’ll ruin all my stuff.”

“Your allotment of water has already been exceeded this month, mam. Please leave the premises. A cart is coming to transport you to a temporary shelter.”

“I’ve got water!” She dashed across the room and grabbed a jug, it looked like plastic.  The plants in that corner struck me as suspiciously real. “Let me go into the kitchen and put the fire out myself. It’s not as if it can spread.”

Only briefly did I consider opening the door to the kitchen and allowing her to see the orange flames roiling in the greasy smoke, to smell the charred stew and melted aluminum. “No, mam. The cart attendant is here now and I’m letting him inside to escort you to the corridor.”

“No, wait!” The cart attendant was strong and obdurate; he gripped her upper arm and firmly pulled her toward the door.

“Young man!” She wasn’t talking to him, she was staring up at all four corners, trying to decide which viewer was active. “Don’t you let them take my stove!”

Now she was gone and, with the entire apartment locked down, I triggered the suppressant. Naturally, they would take her stove, an incredibly expensive stove which burned gas. She must have had the 15 minute cooking limit control illegally altered.

I rewound the data, watched her chopping carrots and onions, vegetables I’d only rarely tasted, noted that her chopping board was wooden. I had to smile. Wealthy anachronists with their wooden things, their antique aluminum cookware, their illegal plastics. They were a firefighter’s dream.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.