Flash Fiction Challenge #36: “The Fire of the Gods”

arson, fire, Flash Fiction, gods, school, short story, writing

Our Flash Fiction challenge this week was to write a story using the title “The Fire of the Gods”. That was the only criteria, besides the 1000 word cap. Hope you enjoy.
Fire, Wood Fire, Heat, Hot, Burn, Flame, Firewood

The Fire of the Gods

We called them the gods, because, to us, that’s what they were. But we didn’t revere them. We hated them because they oppressed us, punished us, and made us feel insignificant.

But high school kids are some of the most screwed up human beings you’ll ever come across. Is it any wonder that we thought our teachers were wrathful, vengeful deities that were put in this world for the simple purpose of haranguing us?

My buddies and I refused to conform to their methods. We did anything and everything we could to disrupt their lessons, to cause them frustration, to make them want to weep for what had become. The staff room, in our minds, was a place of tears and talk of reprisal.

In reality, it might have been, too.

That didn’t stop us, though, on that one warm day in early June. We were about to graduate and had been saving our best ammunition for that moment that we knew we were almost invincible. In less than three weeks, we would no longer be stuck in that stronghold. There was nothing those gods could do to us at that point.

Sure, we worried about the police. No, we hadn’t mapped out our entire possible future in prison, but we had considered arrest, man rape, and falsified evidence. We considered the lies. The gods liked to lie. It was the only way they kept their authority over us.

Lies or not, we were willing to, for once and for all, teach those gods a lesson. We were going to try to bring them down. It had to be done, or the teen years of every other self-conscious, fear driven, ignorant, generally-good teen that passed through those halls would forever be tainted by the gods and their powers of humiliation. No one came out of that school loving life. They only came out desperate for something else, anything else, be it a pit of rattle snakes or starving tigers.

We were prepared to fight for them.

But being barely eighteen years old, most of us were cowards, afraid of the world and its consequences. Even after all the hushed planning, the pacts, the research, three of the five of us had backed out.

That left Nick and I. But that was all right; the plan only required two people.

Being that we attended a school out in the quiet country-side, a place where a serious crime took place once a year, not a few times a day, the school had no grills on the windows. Nor were there video cameras in the halls, or any kind of security. After all, what trouble could a few good ol’ country kids get into? It was the city hoodlums the gods worried about.

That day, the window to the staff room had been opened wide to welcome the beautiful June breeze.

Most of the gods could be found in their cozy little hidey-hole either twenty minutes before school started or at lunch. Before 9am, however, too many students were still arriving, many driving their own vehicles and parking in the back lot, onto which the staffroom window faced.

At lunch, few students left the cafeteria, more concerned with gossip, spying on their latest crushes, music, texting, and computers. Witnesses would be few and far between.

Even so, we took extra care regarding said witnesses. When class let out for lunch, Nick and I hurried to his car to don plain blue coveralls from his father’s barn and black ski masks. We were average height, neither of us conspicuous. We also wore tight fitting rubber boots – tight so that we could run easily, rubber boots for being so common.

I was stuck on hall duty—that was what we called it—but not exactly the kind you’re thinking of.

While Nick did his thing outside, I snuck into the school via the entrance directly across from the staffroom. The beer bottle shook in my hand. I had a moment of reconsideration, but realized that Nick might have already done his part. He would out me to the cops so that he didn’t go down alone. I had to do it.

I stepped into the alcove between doorways to get out of the wind. I lit the rag protruding from the bottle.

The sprint from the doorway to the staffroom seemed too short. I slammed into the doorway of the gods and fiddled with the knob. In my haste, it took too much time to throw back the door, revealing the place the gods worked, discussed, watched, and waited.

Their shocked and afraid expressions were rewarding. We had outsmarted them.

I smashed the Molotov cocktail onto the tile floor a few feet from the door. The fire spread like napalm. Screams erupted, chairs flew back.

Another bottle smashed on the floor behind the restless gods. Fire spread below the window.

I ran.

Out the side entrance of the school.

Across the fifty-foot expanse into the thicket.

Out of the thicket, to the quiet highway.

Across the highway to a neighbouring farm.

I hid behind a shed until I saw Nick’s car pull off the highway across from me. I stripped of the gear, jumped into his car. Dressed in my school uniform again.

Abandoned Nick’s gear and boots in the ditch down the road.

We went back to school to assess our handiwork. The cops were already pulling into the driveway, the fire trucks seconds later.

No one ever questioned Nick or I. We had put fear into the gods and had paid no consequence. No one died, no one was truly hurt, but I held hope that the kids attending that school after us would have a better fighting chance.

Now, I see that nothing has changed. In fact, it got worse.

Gods will be gods, still with their power, still with their hunger to oppress, to inflict fear and pain. Now, they are just a little more cautious, quicker to judge, and quicker to punish.

The gods had won anyway. 


© Lindsay Mawson 2012

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