It was a nice place. I wish it hadn't gone like it did.
The motel wasn't exactly a fortress, but it was out in the middle of nowhere, and that single fact gave off a sense of security like nothing else could. But senses don't translate well into reality.
At something like one in the morning, someone in the lobby, probably the receptionist, started screaming on the intercom system about a fire. We had known something could have happened at any time, so we were up and out the door within minutes. There were maybe two other occupied rooms in the whole building, and as there was only one floor everyone got out safely. There was more than one ridge of flame spreading across the building. The first fire had started on the opposite end from where we had been, but it wasn't long before more lit up, consuming all that was visible of the once-proud motel. The manager was the last out, carrying a registry, and he did his own headcount; I guess baked customers are bad for business.
He counted twice, nodded to himself, and sagged against a car. I was about to go over and comfort the poor man when I realized there was one head missing. A very furry one.
Frankenstein was nowhere to be seen.
I know I made a bad decision. I know cats can often take care of themselves, and get out of the worst situations. I know I could have gotten hurt - worse than I was, anyway. Or killed. But Frank was just barely not a kitten. And he was my last memory of Francis. I couldn't let him perish. I dashed back through the shattered revolving door and started to run in the direction of the room. I heard his mewling before I had even got my hand on the knob, and once I was back inside I saw him again. He looked fine, if a little scared. I ran to him and cradled him in my arms, whispering what I hoped to be calming words, soothing lullabies. Frank leaped from my grasp, clawed his way up the curtains, and tumbled out of the window. Then fire collapsed on my back.
Not a beam, not a plank of wood, but just pure fire landed on top of me, forcing me to my hands and knees and subsequently the floor, where I began to choke and cough from the smoke inhalation. It didn't take long for me to pass out.
When I woke up Elaine was looking down at me, and there were stars behind her head, or maybe in her eyes, or maybe there weren't any stars at all. It hurt to move at all for a while, but when the manager offered to call an ambulance I refused. When time enough had passed and I forgot how to feel the pain, I stood up, and Frankenstein barreled into me, almost knocking me back down. In the ashes of the motel, a dark, bulky figure was sweeping at the ashes. When he turned, he saw me looking at him, and in a strange twist of movement and with the slightest spark as if at a campfire, disappeared.
When we were out of sight of the ruined motel, Cheshire's voice came to me again. "Three left," it said.
Oh well. At least the cat's safe.

2 curiosities:

Fawkes said...

It was a good fire. Much to sweep up. God is pleased.

Elaine said...

I'm just glad you're alright.

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