Chapter 1: The Fire
It has been two years.
My mind still couldn’t comprehend the length of time that I had been without my best friend, without an explanation, without an answer.
I could still see the fire that had taken Leah, burning away in my mind every day. Nightmares of the hooded man haunted my dreams each night as I slept. A constant reminder of the mystery that would never be solved.
I had invited her round to mine that night; my parents had gone away on holiday and my brother was out with some friends. Leah went downstairs to grab some snacks, leaving me upstairs. It was a whole five minutes before I could hear the muffled cries of desperation through the deafening music that played in my ears. Taking the headphones off, I rushed downstairs. A wave of heat hit me like a knife, pricking at my eyes, making them water.
I searched frantically. Forcing my way through the cloud of smoke that seemed to have consumed my living room. There was another cry of help coming from the kitchen. I didn’t pay attention to the flames raging ahead of me, I only wanted to reach my friend.
Both the kitchen and dining-room were drowned in a sea of orange and I could see Leah trapped in the centre, like a sailing boat trapped in a storm.
I couldn’t help but notice the flames licking at my heels, anxious to take me, and never return me.
I reached into my trouser pocket and fumbled around for my phone. My fingers made contact with the cold surface of the glass, before quickly wrapping themselves around the corners and pulling the mobile device out of my pocket.
I could feel the smoke pouring into my lungs and clogging up my airways, but I still managed to enter the three numbers that mine and Leah’s life depended on.
There was just one ringing sound before the woman’s voice entered my head.
“Hello, which service do you require?”
“Fire, please, hurry!” I urged.
“Yes my love, just sending the services now. Could you tell me your address please?”
“Umm…23 Crane Way. In Canterbury, please, my friend…she…”
“Can you hear me miss?”
Then, the smoke was too much, and everything went black.
The next morning I woke up to the sound of the dull, repetitiveness of:
As my eyelids fluttered open, the light stung my eyes, blinding me until a shadow appeared above me.
I forced my body to reach up to hug her but a stab of pain hit me and forced me back on to the bed.
“Shh…don’t force yourself, darling,” Mum whispered.
“Wh…where’s Leah?” I tried to say. My voice came out as a pathetic attempt at speaking, but my mum seemed to understand.
“She…she didn’t make it Soph. We’ve lost her.”
Those were the words that changed my life, and could possibly be the ones to end it…