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Story Time Contest: Hero Edition
25th Aug 2012 at 1:45 PM
Thanks: 38 in 1 Posts
While fires have raged around the small town of Sunset Valley, half the work of nature and half the work of an arsonist, Zoe has kept her secrets regarding her abilities with fire hidden deep. When she loses control, she tries to take off, only to be deterred by her best friend who's been keeping secrets of his own.
Zoe braked at the sight of the roadblock. The flashing lights of emergency vehicles created a garish Xmas display against a smoky backdrop. Urgency was in every action as people gave orders and worried over a map spread on the ground. Radios crackled in constant calls, and grim looks were cast at the flames in the distance, whose roar was a permanent backdrop to the scene, punctuated by explosions.
She'd followed Matt on foot, but he'd soon lost her. He was faster and stronger than a normal dog, and he was angry. Anger always fuelled Matt – friends wondered why he and Zoe were so close. To others, they were yin and yang. Zoe'd returned to the car, which hiccupped and threatened not to start, pushing her already raw emotions closer to the blade's edge. Matt could find the arsonist by scent, Zoe imagined. She couldn't track Matt, but her best bet was to start at the fire.
"Hey, no further. This road's blocked off." A young, nervous fire-fighter ran up as soon as Zoe got out the car.
Zoe glanced over his shoulder at the flashing lights and barricades. "I know," she said. "I just wanted some information."
"There's a fire."
"Yes..." She wondered if she should find someone in charge instead. But that might draw attention to her. "At the labs, yeah?"
The man nodded, a jerky movement, and sympathy shot through Zoe. He was too young to be dealing with this. Then she shook her head ruefully - she probably wasn't any older than him.
A message came through on the radio, as another explosion darkened the entire sky. The fire-fighter twisted round. Zoe grabbed his arm to stop him tripping.
"We've been pulled off the ground completely," he said quietly. "It's too dangerous. So we set up borders and wait for air support." He sounded so miserable that for a moment Zoe forgot her own maelstrom of worries.
"You're doing the best you can," she said.
"It's not enough. I know it's the rules and there's nothing we can do. At least not until things have finished exploding. But still..." he trailed off. "It's the rules. No one can do anything." He shrugged Zoe off and moved away.
Zoe chewed at her lower lip. "
I don't know who makes the rules, but they're wrong.
"What?" The fire-fighter paused, looking back with a confused frown.
Ducking her head, Zoe blushed. She wasn't being fair. They weren't wrong. They just didn't have all the information. For most it was both too dangerous and pointless. For her it wasn't dangerous. It might still be pointless – but Matt was out there, so it didn't matter.
Zoe turned and walked into the bushes on the side of the road. No one noticed; they had bigger things to worry about.
Zoe jogged through the trees. Any noise she made was drowned out by the roar of the flames, sirens, the crack of breaking branches, and the headlong crash of escaping wildlife. She was close enough to the fire now for it have been uncomfortably warm, if she was normal. She was also regretting her choice of attire. Numerous small scratches covered her legs and arms.
She neared the labs; she wouldn't be able to get closer. Anyone in there was dead, devoured by the roaring inferno. She shuddered and shoved that thought away.
A glint to her left caught her attention: the reflection of fire on glass. The groundsman's shed. The labs' gardens were extensive, both because of the predominance of agricultural science practiced there and as a means of extra funding. Their upkeep was also highly technological, and the shed probably contained as much mechanical tools as gardening.
A shape moved behind the door, not just the dance of reflection, and Zoe changed direction.
"Ma—?" She pushed through the door, the word dying on her lips. Her eyes widened, and for a moment she couldn't take in what she was seeing.
Matt was there. His canine form was stretched out on the packed dirt. His chest moved, up and down, in shallow, slow breaths, but he didn't otherwise stir. The faintest hint of blood was lost in the dark fur of his head. A hammer lay nearby. The innocent tool somehow took on an ominous air.
On the other side of the shed, bending over a pile clothes that stunk of kerosene and apparently attempting to burn the evidence was—
"Jillian?" Zoe said weakly.
"Zoe? What are you doing here?" Jill spun and gaped, eyes wide, before the words burst from her.
Zoe opened her mouth and closed it again. Her emotions seemed locked away behind the glass of shock. "I think that should be my question," she managed, voice still strained. She stared at Jill's innocent blue eyes, now glaring through angry tears. Maybe this wasn't what it looked like...
"Why is everything going wrong?" Jill moaned. She kicked at her pile of clothes. "First that dog scared the life out of me. I thought it was a person, then I thought it was going to attack me, so I knocked it out. It got scared or something or I wouldn't have been able to get near it. And now you. Now what am I meant to do about you?"
Obviously, it was what it looked like. But Zoe fixated on one thing, and her anger crystallized. The smell of smoke filled the room. "You hurt Matt?" she exploded, and Jill jerked back in surprise.
Matt wouldn't have been scared. But he would have hesitated – he wouldn't have expected Jillian, teenage daughter of the fire chief, passionate, bright, alive, so focused on joining the CFA. At least he was still a dog. Reverting to human would have opened too many questions, even if people weren't likely to believe a crazy, fire-starting girl. Provided any of them got out of there alive.
"Matt? The dog's Matt's? Oh." A hint of regret passed Jill's face and disappeared. "It scared me. Now, don't do anything while I deal with this. Then we need to get out of here." With the last, she cast an anxious glance out the door.
Zoe struggled to breathe through the mixed force of incredulity and anger burning in her. "Don't do anything? People have died because of you."
Jill fumbled with the lighter. She swallowed heavily. "I didn't mean that to happen. But don't you see? It's better that way." She lit the fire, hands steady again.
Zoe gave a strangled grunt. "Better?"
"It makes us bigger heroes. Some people died, but more people didn't," Jill explained. "People will remember what fire-fighters did. They'd forget if it was a spot fire or two, but now Dad will be the biggest hero."
"You're going to break his heart. You little..." Zoe trailed off. She didn't have the words. Matt would, and as soon as she got him out of there, he'd use them. He wouldn't be too badly hurt – she wouldn't let him be.
Jill shot her an immensely superior look, a slight smirk on her lips. Her moment of conscience may as well not have existed. "Oh, please, Zoe. Like you'll do anything. I'm going to be in so much trouble if you tell on me – like, jail or dead kind of trouble. You won't do that." She lowered herself back down to her fire.
Zoe looked at Matt. He was still breathing steadily, with no other change. She crouched and almost without thinking wrapped her fingers around the cold handle of the hammer.
"You know, Jill," she said, with a sidewise glance. The girl was too busy playing with her fire to pay attention. "I could pretend that I never saw you. I could pretend no one is starting these fires.
I could carry on as if nothing really matters.
" She rose and crept forward. "But being nice doesn't make me stupid."
She slammed the hammer down on Jill's head.
The girl crumpled to the floor with a surprised cry; Zoe echoed her yelp, as if she was the one who'd been hit. She gasped and swayed, the room spinning. The hammer dropped to the ground. For a moment Zoe was frozen. Then Jill moaned and twitched, before settling – unconscious, but alive.
"Oh God. I just hit a little girl."
A little girl who was an arsonist and murderer, and old enough to be responsible for her own actions, Zoe's internal logic argued.
The fierce crackle of flames impinged her self-recrimination. The fire had reached them – and surrounded them. They were stuck, arsonist, dog and Zoe alike.
Current Plot Point: Playing Both Sides
Previous Plot Points: Mysterious Past, Heaven Only Knows, Makeover, Bonus: Meet Cute
Word Count: 1430 words / 15 pictures
CC Used: Allowed – LBF skins, Aikea eyes, poses, OMSPs, Time/Weather mod, Chaos effect emitter
PLUS possibly unallowed firetrucks because I could not for the life of me get one in game *grr* Not sure whether it counts for unallowed since it might count as a mod unlocking an ingame object? Doesn't really matter, I guess.
Is there a reason for all the photoshop disclaimers? Should I be joining the club?
I have to say. I'm probably the most satisfied with this chapter out of all of them regardless of its quality, simply because it was so much trouble to do. Ignoring the troubles with writing it, once I got to scene building/picture taking, I swear everything that could go wrong, did. Except the save file corrupting. It did threaten to hang indefinitely for a while though. But I beat it in the end *smug*
Also, I feel like (apparently I didn't finish this sentence. Fill in the blanks on your own, since I have no idea what I was going to say!)