dontravis.com blog post #399
|Courtesy of Pikist|First, a bit of news. Dreamspinner Press notified me today that they are accepting my seventh BJ Vinson novel called The Cutie-Pie Murders. Readership last week was mediocre, but the story got several comments on my private email. And yes, it was quite a change of pace for me. As is today’s offering.
“Told you I didn’t want to come up here this weekend, anyway.” Lou’s chin trembled as she eyed the smoke rising just beyond the hill.
“Don’t get your nylons twisted,” Fred said, a cigarette dangling from his lips. “You always like the mountains, and this cabin is one of the best.” He gave a dry cough. “Whoops, it just crested the top. Would you look at those flames?”
Lou wailed and dropped her purse. “We’ve got to get out of here. Everyone else has already left the area.”
Fred tore a little skin from his lip as he removed the butt and waved it across the small meadow. “It won’t cross the creek. We’re okay.”
“Are you crazy? I can jump that creek… with my panties down around my ankles.” Her voice was muffled as she scurried around on the floor collecting the contents of the spilled bag.
“Figure of speech. Come on, Fred, we’ve got to get moving.”
“Don’t go giving me orders, bitch. We’ll leave when I say so.”
“Give me the keys to the Bronco, and I’ll leave. You can stay here and fry if you want.”
Fred patted his pants pocket. “They’re right here, and that’s where they’re gonna stay. Think of it, we’ll be able to say we rode out a forest fire.”
“Roasted out, is more like it. Seriously, Fred, let’s go! Please.”
“You’re such a mama’s girl. Scared of your shadow. Look, if it doesn’t stop at the creek, it’ll have to cross the meadow. There’ll be plenty of time to get out.”
Lou grabbed an old-fashioned hand fan from the table and waved it frantically in front of her face. “It’s getting hot, Fred.”
“It’s been hot… and dry.”
“No, I mean I can feel the heat from the fire. Please, let’s get in the car and go.”
“In a minute. Fix me a glass of sweet tea. Get one for yourself. That’ll cool us off.”
“Imagination. Just your imagination.
Fred couldn’t believe the speed of the wildfire as it raced down the side of the hill. Rollins Mountain, the locals called it. Wasn’t big enough to be a mountain. Smoke roiling in front of the flames indicated the wind was in this direction, but most of the stuff—including fiery sparks were going straight up. He watched as a tongue of flame twisted around like a waterspout. Lou clutched his arm. Her tremors of fright irked him. “Where’s that tea?”
“Get it yourself. All gone, anyway.” She squealed as the flames reached a small grassy patch of ground and raced to the far bank of Pullinan’s Creek. As Fred had predicted, the flames died in the damp earth.
He pointed with his ever-present cigarette. “See. Stopped.”
Wide-eyed, Lou pointed to the right. “What about there?”
Fred’s chin dropped as he shifted his gaze. The relentless flames fought their way through the trees to the north, sounding like a freight train. It was true. Everyone said “like a freight train,” and that’s exactly what it sounded like. Entranced, he stared, unable to move as orange fingers reached across the creek and touched dried boughs faded to a tannish green, and two spruce ignited instantly.
“Fred!” Lou shrieked. “Let’s go before it’s too late.” She released him and tore off the porch of the log cabin, heading for the brown Bronco parked in front. Startled out of his lethargy, Fred tossed aside the cigarette and bounded down the steps.
Gas! He shoulda got gas in town before starting up the mountain. How much did he have? Fumes. The tank was full of fumes. Fumes exploded, didn’t they. Not the gas, it just burned, but the fumes…
He reached the side of the vehicle and fumbled with the gas cap.
“What are you doing?” Lou screamed. “Unlock the door. Let me in the car.”
The cap came away in his hand as she screamed again. He turned to look behind him.
The flames had reached the meadow and rolled across the grass like water rushing downhill. He barely had time to comprehend before they licked at his boots. Superheated air made breathing almost impossible. A shower of sparks fell like scorching rain.