I didn’t hear the characteristic rattle of the loose roof iron above the kitchen, heralding a change in the wind. Hot easterly turning to a south-westerly that on a normal day would promise a drop in temperature. My brain didn’t register the growing smell of smoke, creeping up like an intruder.
The shrill clamour of the smoke alarm finally halted my study halfway through working out the molar weight of an unknown substance in question 34a. Fear buzzed as chemistry fled my brain. I made it halfway to silence the alarm before the power went out, plunging me into a dark that was simply too dark for the time of day it was.
The sun was blotted by roiling black, glowing orange at its base. I’m the daughter of a fire-fighter. I know. White smoke says the firies are on hand. Black, however… I was immobilised, staring, trees tossing in the rising gale as the fire alarm drilled into my brain.
I remembered the text message I hadn’t checked. So many precious minutes ago.
It wasn’t from Dad saying all was going well. It was an Emergency Alert. Be ready to actively defend your property. Too late to leave. Find a place of safety. Shelter until flames have passed. Blunt words drilling through me.
I didn’t bother trying the radio. Didn’t think it could tell me anything the window wasn’t already screaming. I was wrong, but I’m glad I was.
Everyone needs something to strive for. I was living for my Dad.
He was already dead, but I didn’t know that.
So I fought.
This is part of a WIP rooted in the fear, the unknowing and the awesome community spirit sparked by a destructive wildfire.
© HM Waugh 2018