Welcome back to the ‘best of’ the Crossroads blog tour! Just a few more weeks until Red Dawn is released so if you haven’t had a chance to check out Crossroads yet, what are you waiting for? Need a little more Crossroads to whet your appetite? How about an exclusive excerpt?
I wake with a throbbing headache. The ground beneath me is cold and hard. Cement. My head is pounding. Can smoke do that? I crack my eyes and stare up at the ceiling. I can only see patches of the mottled paint through the smoke. It swirls around me, polluting my lungs and piercing my eyes. Smoke assaults me from all sides, blurring my vision, the acrid stench clinging to my clothes and hair. I roll to my left and grab the corner of a metal table. Using the leg for support, I drag myself into a sitting position and climb to my feet.
For the first time I notice the flames. They crackle all around me. The clinic is engulfed. But why am I inside? And where is everyone else? What the hell is going on? This isn’t right. I’m not supposed to be here. It’s not supposed to be me!
Panic stirs my gut, threatening to burst forth. The beginning of a scream makes its way through me, coiling up from my stomach and into my throat. If I don’t let it out, it will consume me. I imagine the fear ripping me to pieces from the inside out, leaving nothing but an unrecognizable and bloody mess. Not today. I slam my hand over my mouth, clamping it shut. I swallow my fear. I have to stay calm. I have to get out of here.
The overhead lights surge with power and short out. The bulbs explode, leaving a deluge of sparks to rain down on me. I smell singed hair and pat my sleeve where the fabric has burned through. Time is running out.
I stride across the room and slam my hands against the nearest window. The glass does not give under the force of my blow. I strike it again; this time with my fist. And again. Still, nothing. I am not meant to get out. I’m meant to burn as they did. As they always do in my nightmares.
In an act of desperation I grab a stool and smash it futilely against the unyielding glass. It clatters to the floor and is quickly swallowed by the flames. I fight the urge to cry. I will be strong. I will be brave. I watch the flames, as they creep across the floor, inching closer to me.
The room is getting unbearably hot. The soles of my shoes grow warm and the rubber begins to melt. I wonder if I too could melt. It beats the alternative of burning. It’s a fitting death I suppose. I’ve long suspected there’s a ring of hell for those like me.
As the flames take hold of my pant leg, searing nerve endings and destroying flesh, my brave façade crumbles. I fling myself against the window and pound on it with every ounce of strength I have left. I hardly recognize the deafening scream that reverberates through the night as my own.
*Originally posted at http://www.crossroadreviews.com