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Suddenly, without any kind of warning, fire and smoked roared down from above, directly in front of the fire-fighter, and obliterated all the sights and sounds of the people trapped in the house. Instinctively, the fire fighter jumped back, but did catch heat through his gloves that would have made any other person scream. He did not.

Like candle wax he watched the walls and objects around him dissolve and turn into dark smoke. He was standing in the center of the room with many chances to save himself, but the voices calling from the rooms kept his adrenaline elevated.

Something touched him as the flames kept biting like a wild dog. He turned around and saw a spirit floating in the air like smoke. He felt the spirit's hands on his shoulder as it was keeping him upright. It was holding him in balance so that he could continue saving lives.

Pushing through the flames one body at a time he knew that the destruction of human life would be minimal. That was his plan, that was his goal.

The spirit steered him gently toward a small room that use to be painted pink and now was covered in darkness. He saw a small baby in a crib gasping for air. He cut through the flames like a jet stream of water and carried the baby out of harm's way. He was exhausted but deeply fulfilled. The fire fighter paused and closed his eyes for a moment, trying to gather enough strength to go back into the burning house and continue to do his job. The spirit that helped him was etched indelibly in his mind and that gave him courage. The courage he so much needed as he raced back to help save lives.

The fire was breathing heavy like a dragon on a rampage. Just then someone called his name and the fire fighter recognized the voice. It was his grandmother, the person who raised him and gave him a foot up in life. The person who was there when his own mother abandoned him for drugs and the company of men. His grandmother, God rest her soul.

She ran to him and she made a big embrace as she shrieked with delight, closed her eyes while hugging him tight and over-exaggerated kisses all over his face and head.

“How could this be?” He whispered.

“You saved so many lives today,” she said through kisses. “The only person who didn't make it out was...”

The firefighter paused as he looked into his grandmother's face. Life was missing, his constant companion, the living that was inside him was gone. It was as if it had been burned and carried away with the smoke. The absence of life felt odd, and even uncomfortable. For years life made him feel important, normal and defined.

As he watched only smoke rise into the sky, with the absence of spirits, he knew he saved so many lives. Normal was a myth, life was no longer a part of his identity.

He grabbed his grandmother's hand and they walked past the shadows and into a bright light. As he entered the clearing, he saw Jesus Christ, and nothing was obliterated. Nothing...

© 2018 Frank Atanacio