He could feel Mr Bunny in his hand, the warm of the cotton skin, but he couldn’t feel the peace that was promised to him. He felt the weight on his chest, the shadow glided in without making any noise. Then the smaller flames would start. Then the pressing of the hands, the long fingers of the shadow on his chest, looking for his neck.
But for now the flames were growing up and the shaped looked undecided at the edge of the bed. The boy couldn’t move and he could feel the drops of sweat of his body, he knew the sensation could trespass the dimension of dream and reality. The shadow extended its hand.
It had white gloves. He waited patiently until the boy, about of being covered by the flames, recovered the mobility of his body. He grasped the fingers with all his strength. The two hands connected in a hug looked at themselves, it had a big claw and the fingers long and slim like wires, Edan hand was round and his fingers were little and fat. With dumb movements he got out from the bed sheets and he walked. The house was full of darkness; he felt the fresh floor under his naked feet and the slight respiration of the shadow.
The room behind his back disappeared in a violent feast.
But there was fire left burning him from the inside. The steps became shorter and they stopped when they reached the principal room. The little boy felt the nauseas climbing by his back and this head beating, he left the cold and the heat, all at the same time. The shadow left his hand and made some steps back.
Then it immolated itself. The fire licked its black clothes and consumed its neck. The mask crackled while the fire slipped under it, under the black pupils. The flames climbed and hanged in the ceiling, burning the lamps, while at its feet, they devoured the red and blue carpet. When everything became red, the shadow could not help itself and kneed down. Everything that was touched by it became ashes and Edan could feel its pain, its burn.
This room was much more fun to consume, and the flames needed to run, run, run. And the child, again, was paralysed in his place.
And the fire was arriving to his feet, burning his fingers, climbing by his clothes. The heat became unbearable.
-Mum! – The child screamed. He hugged Mr Bunny and the tears ran by his cheeks –Mum! –
He screamed in the middle of the cold, dark room. She ran, confused, turned on the lights and found him there, standing, almost in silence, whining. She touched him, the fever wend up even more that the night before.
-Tell him to go back to bed- Shouted the father, from the bed. He turned in his side of the mattress, frustrated, and he came back to sleep.
Candie started to shake and cry with her son, because she knew she won’t change his husband mind on taking her to the hospital. She turned on the tap and the warm water leaked. She pulled up the toy from the weak hands of her son and she put him under the stream, with all his clothes on. She waited a few moments until Edan started to react again and gave her a compassionate look. The fever was coming down slowly.
When the electrician broke the wall between the ceiling lamp and the plug, he found the wire bitten by teeth, cut, wet and rotten. He took away some parts of the wet gypsum, making an untidy and dirty hole in the wall. He pulled the wires; he would have to change a big part of the installation. And that, only that, would take him all afternoon, and let the family arrange the wall mess. He was no bricklayer.
-If it wasn’t for me, you would be fighting with a series of short-circuit. This is dangerous- He scolded her. The man, sedentary and with a little overweight had his back turned at the slim woman.
-Well, and I only called because I couldn’t turn on the light- She mentioned with a touch of innocence –Could you also install this here?-
She handed him an orange box. Inside there was a fire alarm, used, gifted by someone who thought it could be useful. The man nodded, cleaning his hand on the blue uniform. Such a stupid woman, fire alarms don’t need to be connected to the electrical installation, he thought. He will charge it like an extra, anyway.
The men worked with the child’s eyes on his back, in an uncomfortable silence. And, even hours after the electrician left, the little boy could not take his eyes off the little grey device. The fire alarm, the fire. He had the hunch it would be useless.
Candie took him on her arms, to take him away from his thoughts, and he opened and closed his mouth, but he couldn’t make the words in his throat. He pointed at the broken wall, to the connected wires.
-Yeah, I know, such a mess- She said with a sweet voice, but he pointed, insisted, on the equipment whose light was twinkling in the dark.
Kennth wasn’t happy with the repair.
-Damn it, I could have worked on that- He insisted, touching the new wires with his hand. One of them gave him a kick and he left out an annoying groan.
-It was a complicated work- She said, while she set the table. The child was almost sleeping in his chair, hugging Mr Bunny. Edan could feel the whispers inside his ears, and only the plush toy could calm him down.
-Is this for this that I work? I wake up every night and during the day you waste my money- He walked to the table with an angry mood.
-It’s just nothing. Don’t overreact- Candie tried to calm him down, carefully.
-This is the last time you call someone for this kind of things. I don’t work for nothing, to waste the money on rubbish- He looked at his son; the boy had his cheeks red from crying, from the fever and the fatigue. With his big and heavy hand he took the boy by the shoulder and shook him, waking him up from the dream.
The violent shake and the pressing on his skin made him hurt, but the heat of his body burned the father’s fingertips.
-I want to get a good night of sleep today- He blurted out –Did you hear?, I want eight hours of sleep without interruptions- And he pressed even more hardly, and Edan looked at him with dark eyes full of tears that won’t go out.
The child pointed at the fire alarm, with a dry throat and the fever, without saying a word.
-Talk, I don’t know what you want me to know- He said raising his voice. Candie approached, alarmed, and separated them. She dried the face of her son with a stamped handkerchief, which was sweet ad pale, just like her dress.
She covered him in bed. She kissed him on the forehead and gave the little child a long hug, and he squeezed her the same way he squeezed Mr Bunny. He didn’t want her to go. She laughed; she broke herself free and turned off the lights with a good bye. He could hear his parents argue in the darkness, but the voices were only uncompressible whispers he could not understand and only helped him to fall even faster into sleep.
-It won’t hurt you. It will help you sleep, just take it- He insisted, now annoyed, until she finally nodded and took an entire pill with a glass of water.
Kenneth hadn’t even bought it on a common pharmacy, she knew, she had the feeling. But she needed to obey, especially when he looked at her with that penetrating glance. If she was lucky, it will not make so much effect on her. But the drug ran in his blood and didn’t wait to take her to bed.
The shape, tall, slender and dark stopped at the feet of the bed. The fire started, again, punctually, and he stretched its skeletal fingers. It had an empty, shadowy glance and it moved its long ears. Waiting. Patiently like the fire that was gobbling down the bed sheets.
The child felt the live coal in his mouth, burning, red. He wanted to open his mouth to take a breath, but the air was heated and dense. He squeezed Mr Bunny against his chest and he tried to shout, but he couldn’t. The fire was covering this throat. He went through the flames and took its hand.
The shape lifted him in the air, taking him out of bed and walked to the hallway. Edan, pressing strongly its fingers, tugged at it and for the first and only time it obeyed, following him to the room. The two parents were at bed, deeply sleep.
With the hand he had Mr Bunny, the child touched his mother’s face, but she couldn’t react. He insisted again and again, but nothing could take her away from the dream. The shape tugged at his arm. It was getting late.
They reached the living room where they stopped for a moment. The shape was starting to burn itself, but it won’t let the little boy free. He could feel the strong stench of the fire, the dizziness that shook his body because of the smoke. He could feel it spark, while it devoured the cloth and the skin. The fire alarm looked at this, muted, without making any sound. The blazes extended themselves by the carpet, now entirely red, climbing up the walls, licking the dolls and frames, the wallpaper and mementos. The thing and the boy continued their way.
When the fire-fighters arrived the fire looked like it was touching the sky. The firestorm was untameable; the way in which it danced from side to side was beautiful and violent. The men got down from the vehicle and they started the extinguisher system.
Right there, in front of the house, a shape looked at the blazes with big, dark eyes. In front of the red giant, the little boy was only a tiny particle, but he was there, anyway. Muted and without any tears o his eyes. He squeezed Mr Bunny against his chest and the toy was burning in comparison with the cold skin of the child.