Flames (Extended)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: The Imaginarium

I really enjoyed writing this the first time round and thought I could make this into an extended short story, to really grasp the understandings of Emma as a whole. I hope you enjoyed the extended
version of this story, its strange to see the difference between when I first wrote Flames and now. Time really does fly by. But anyway, I hope you enjoy.

Over a period of time, abuse will break down a human. Emma is the recipient of abuse and she has broken down, but with the fall of power, comes the rise of darkness.



She was stood outside the front of her house. The middle of the street. Watching it. Watching the evil from within slowly burn away. Her plan had been a success. For such an occasion she felt her best clothes were appropriate. Progressively puffing on her cigarette, tears of joy and woe chasing smudged mascara down her cheek. Her clean blonde hair stained grey from the winds ash. All that was left, was to wait.


Emma first met Mike eight years ago. He was nice, ideal. They got along. They got married. Got a house. The feeling of utopia flowed through Emma. Prospects were high and so was love.


Aggression. This is what started to loom over him. His job had slipped through his fingers and now the house was his pit. Slowly the darkness had started to emerge, as Emma passed through her front door she could feel it, it was lurking.

"I'm home," her bags were placed carefully upon the counter waiting nervously for a response. He was showing signs of a loose cannon, he wasn't quite there but the slight sense of fear when she got home was a natural response. Where was he? The smell was present. The sense was present. A grunt from the living room. Emma progressed forward. Her fear maintained.

The coffee table covered itself in dirty plates and unfamiliar condiments. Under a layer of sheets on the sofa, a stretched-out object lay. Another grunt. The sheets seem a to have been concealing an animal of some sort. Another grunt. Emma knew what lay beneath the surface of those sheets, the emerging animal. "Mike?", she took a step closer.

"What!" He moved from the sheets. Revealing the body. He turned to face Emma. She took a step back, trying to find a neutral position, not wanting to get too close. His face was rough, ragged, dishevelled. An uneasy feeling came from within her. "What do you want?"

"I came to check on you," she looked down to her feet and shrivelled in her stance.

"Well you've checked," his voice spoke with arrogance. She took another step back, his hard voice seemed to be overpowering in every situation. His eyes glued onto her.

She turned away. "Wait!" There was a pause. She froze. Fearful of what was to come. "Get me a beer would you," the words fell from his tongue with a slight added force.

Emma felt confined "Ok. Just a moment," and the answer came out in a moment of domesticity.

She returned to the room with an ice-cold beer. She returned to the animal-like man. She passed the bottle over. He snatched fast. The bottle opener was already in his hand. The bottle popped, and the liquid passed through his lips. Flowing into his body, adding to the subtle evil that already lay in him.


"You stupid bitch!" Mike roared his anger, with fury in his eyes, consuming Emma. The plate on the floor lay still, shattered to several fragments of China. His voice echoed around the house.

His stomping was reminiscent of that of a soldier, ready to put his inferior in line. Her soft face was soaked in dread. "I'm sorry, please Mike," her weak voice begged for mercy. She knew what he was capable of.

"Well! What are you waiting for?" He looked down at the broken dish. He was angered over such a minor incident that had occurred in his house. When the incidents get bigger, what will she do then?

Afraid of another blast from his lips, she dropped to her knees. Picking up the sharp fragments. She wanted to... no, she couldn't. As another fragment entered her palm his foot crunched on top. Her yell of pain was a yell for something else. A crimson liquid started to drop from her hand, as did tears from her eyes. "Please," a tone of beg.

He released. A breath of relief. "Next time watch what you’re doing. Dumb slut," he walked away taking another gulp from whatever bottle he had in his hand. Her sad eyes followed him out the room, desperate for the approval of a normal life.


"A box of matches. Ok, that will be one pound please," Emma passed the money to the clerk. Her poorly bandaged hand just about holding the blood flow. The clerk showed a sign of concern on his face. Sympathy. And for the little he had, Emma envied him. Wishing for a life like his. But that was impossible now.


The streets on the way home seemed to watch her, all eyes in Emma. Hidden away in her coat she hoped someone wouldn't look.

She was stood outside the front of her house. Imagining. But an ideal world can only retain madness within. The house continued to spray a sense of evil towards her. The closer she got, the faster the sense increased. Staring down at her.

Her key entered the door and the house began to sneer, knowing what waited for her inside.

Her key turned. Push. The door opened. Key out. Door shut. Step forward. The house was silent, it didn't even dare to whisper. The tv was off. The grunts and sound of aggressive movements from Mike seemed to have died. Suspicion arose. She continued to step forward in confusion and curiosity.

"Why were you out?" His controlling voice seemed to echo in Emma's head.

She looked in each room down the corridor. Each breath became a heavy weight in her lungs. Heart violently pumping in a mass of fear. Another slow step forward. Fingers twitching. That dark place in her head, overtaking. Guard up.

"Answer me! Where were you?" Empowerment ruled over in sick reign of slow aggression. "Come on darling. Don't ignore the man you love,"

The word love made her spine chill. Love was cruel, for her life. There was a pause in her mind to focus on that one word. Love: brutal.

"Don't ignore the man you love!" Mike ran out in front of her. The blur of his body made it unclear what had got her. She fell back, in those few moments, losing vision. Hit the ground.


Her eyes flickered. Darkness. A harsh ache coming from the cut on her hand throbbed. The only light filtering through was between the gap of the door and the ground. A mild groan seeped through her lips. Her head aching in a near agonizing torture.

Her head lay on the damp, wooden floor. The smell of petrol hovered in the air. She had an idea. But she couldn’t. She didn’t have the capability. She was weak and helpless in a society that was completely overwhelming. And this society was personified by those heavy footsteps steadily pacing towards her.

The footsteps had arrived, and the extremely little light was blinded. The rumbling of keys occurred, and Emma groaned again. The key entered the lock. Twist. Open. His silhouette shunned down upon her frail body. "Please," her whimpering voice begged for mercy. Giving up and just relying on hope. But hope isn’t enough unless you put it into action.

He shut the door behind him. Darkness again. Picked her up and placed her on a bench like a rag doll, powerless. She knew what was coming but didn't want to admit it. An innocent flower in a world craving innocent blood.

It was at this point that she wanted to tear apart everything she knew and cared for. But she couldn't. She wouldn't. But sometimes you must fall to grow, but when do you know when to stop, because stopping too late is the root of evil and corruption, and Emma didn't want to take that risk.

"Please, stop," tears of dread patiently dripped down her soft cheeks. His trousers and underwear dropped to the floor. She felt him.

The feeling of pure sickness flowed through her body like a violent swarm of animalistic hatred.


"Get up. Come on get up!" He stood tall in front of the light again like every other time. His body in a desperate attempt to block out the light. "You're sleeping in my bed tonight,"

Emma accepted this like she did every other time. It would be the first time she had seen outside that room in weeks. And a bed was something she could properly rest in.

She was pulled out of the dark closet. Light. Not a lot, but enough. Dragged upstairs and was told to wait until he was ready. Walking from that closet to her old room, she witnessed the house again. Mess, darkness, once again feeling the evil from within, quickly building her sense of unease.

Upstairs, however, was surprisingly clear, this was mainly down to the fact that he only used his room. The rest of the rooms were deserted, left to rot in perfect, untouched condition.

Her old room had reignited her memory, reminding her what it was to be normal. But this was intruded by his life, barging through and taking over.

Shoved through, Mike spoke briskly "stay here!".

The door shut behind her and she was left alone. Scanning the room in a desperate endeavour to retrace happiness. In the corner of the room was a white plastic bag. Three steps towards the bag. Rustle. Open. Matches.

Matches. She bought these for one reason and now has thought of another. The door began to open. She got away from the bag and stood to attention.

"What are you doing?" Mike was at his utmost powerful at this time. He forced fear into Emma's mind. Controlling her. Manipulating her. Changing her. 

"Nothing," a whimper of a voice. She had fallen to a point of complete weakness. But when weakness reaches a complete low point, darkness arises. And this darkness had grown.

And now the process had restarted. Again, for the unknown time, she was his. His to do what he wanted. But a glimmer of light managed to shine through the curtains as the sun went down. She stared at it. Waiting.


He was asleep. A deep sleep like every night from the drink. She climbed out of bed. Trying not to make too much noise, but she knew he wasn't going to wake.

She switched the light on. Then moved herself to the mirror. She hadn’t seen herself for a while now, a felt as if she was looking at a completely different person. Purple and blue welts covering her limbs like a violent rash. Breathing was a difficulty, cracked ribs maybe. Dry blood stuck to her cracked lips. Scraggy hair looking similar to a bird’s nest grown out of control. Unwashed body. He had taken her toll on her. Ruining her. But now, she was going to ruin him. Take revenge, or was it revenge? He had killed her goodness, her human morality. Vengeance. She looked down at the bag. The matches.

She left the room in a moment of madness. Rushing to the closet where she was kept. Open. A can of petrol. This wasn't Emma. But she wasn't Emma anymore, she was an alteration.

She walked upstairs with the matches and fuel. The temptation was burning within, bursting to get out. Looking inside his room, she didn't even wonder if her morality was right. She didn't care if what she was doing was bad or good. She just wanted him to end.

She covered the room in fuel. He was starting to wake up. She continued to hose the floor as she walked out into the hall. She shut the door. Lock. A grunt came from the other side. He was waking. She covered the door in the liquid.

"Emma?" He spoke with a tired voice. "Emma, what have you done?" Confused and instantly angered.

She threw the key into the trail of petrol. He continued to shout out her name as she continued to flood the house in the flammable liquid.

His shouts and banging on the door didn't intimidate her. She was the one in control now. He was the one who was going to suffer.

Every room was coated, ready for extermination. It saddened her a little, but not a lot, and not for long. Every happy memory in every room had been consumed by darkness.

She walked outside the house. The trail of fuel had come to an end. His shouting was now a distant whisper. She reached into her pocket. Held out a match. And with no anticipation. No tension. Ignite. Drop. Fire.

A flame violently crawled like a vicious serpent towards the house. It didn't take long. Seconds. The carpet shot up into a yellow, Orange and red blaze. Spreading through to upstairs, left to the kitchen, right to the living room. A wooden shelf in the living room blasted into flames, blackening the room which soon converted itself into a fiery mess.

Electrical components sparked everywhere from the kitchen. The television from the living room blew out the window, spitting glass at Emma as she watched the Phoenix house rose up.

Flames flew into the sky like a ray of streaming light. A ferocious light in a world of darkness. Hope was clear to her now. Her eyes lit up and at that moment she realized what she had executed. And she was proud.

The faint noise of sirens was heard in the distance. By this time, he was gone.

She dropped to her knees. Tears trickled down her face. Fear is a mind killer. It causes you to drop everything, severing your moral code. He had turned innocence into evil. His bliss was her pain, but now that had switched. We all get what we deserve, eventually.

She wasn’t born a killer. She wasn't born dark. She was converted, broken down and destroyed. No real living human was left, she was just surviving, consumed by dread.

The sirens pulled up in front of the house. Her time with him had been cruel to her. So, she dropped everything. Men from the sirens rushed towards her. She was not evil. Overcome by fear, fear of what came next. And now that fear had ended.

We try to get an understanding of human behaviour, but sometimes, all we get is chaos.

Submitted: October 15, 2017

© Copyright 2021 Tom Smith. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:



Words fail me, Tom. Often when we try to extend things they get a bit watered down, but that was not the case here. Each and every single word fitted together to make a story of real powerful impact. You really are a fantastic writer.

Sun, October 15th, 2017 7:47pm


Thanks Hully, that has made my day, really appreciated.

Sun, October 15th, 2017 1:28pm


Your story is very well written. And wow, I love the descriptions. Very well done! Check out my material when you have the chance, as well :)

Mon, October 16th, 2017 9:41pm


Thanks Lisbeth, I'll check out your stuff tommorow when I have some time :)

Mon, October 16th, 2017 2:46pm

A. K.Taylor

I could write a whole page comment on this, Tom, but I'm not going to this time. Domestic violence is not something I agree with. If you join yourself to a life partner, you should love and respect them; not belittle, demean, and break them. It's too easy to give in to the darkness within yourself when things go wrong rising above it shows the real power, not destroying the other who chose you as their lover and friend.

It's a good write, Tom, but I'm not really into it mainly due to subject matter. You told the events well and it had a very compelling flow. A very realistic depiction of a woman who'd had enough. I don't blame her. Heck, I would've done far worse if I had been in her shoes.

Mon, October 16th, 2017 11:57pm


Thanks Akumakaze, it means a lot. I'm glad you enjoyed it, despite the subject matter.

Mon, October 16th, 2017 11:56pm


Jesus this was dark...... I think every woman deep down fears an abusive relationship like that might erupt in their lives... And as you described very well in here, everyone has a breaking point, and when that point is reached, anyone can do things they never intended, and would never do under normal circunstances.

This was the most intense story I've read since I joined Booksie, its scary even, because it feels real, way too real, it could happen to anyone, it could happen to me...

Stunning writting Tom, it was a marvelous read.

Tue, October 17th, 2017 1:24am


Thanks, I really had a great time writing this, seeing how Emma slowly breaks, and how Mike takes her to a next level of darkness.

Mon, October 16th, 2017 11:49pm


This is definitely one of the most disturbing pieces I've read, especially because of how true to reality it is. You did an excellent job detailing Emma's emotions and thoughts, as well as the transition of her mental state from hopeful to helpless to madness. I also enjoyed the small bits of wise sayings you weave through the piece, and some of the descriptive terms used were very apt.

While there were a few sentences which I think could be polished, overall this piece is very well done. Perhaps one thing that could be improved is elaborating a little more on Mike's physical/mental transition from a seemingly decent man to this monster.

I like to play devil's advocate when it comes to the villain because I think it's important to know how they become what they are, in order to prevent becoming them. And in writing, a well-rounded villain is better. Did Mike become the monster the moment he lost his job or was there a chain of events leading to it? Was he usually a 'jovial' alcoholic that turned, or did he turn to alcohol to drown out his worries?

Tue, October 17th, 2017 12:35pm


Thanks for the kind words. And also I think I would quite like to extend this even further, maybe converting it into a novella one day, and that the development of the antagonist would also be a key aspect of this.

Tue, October 17th, 2017 9:35am

Oleg Roschin

Powerfully written and deeply moving. The abrupt sentences convey the atmosphere of powerless terror really well. There is something chaotic and blurry in the style of narrative, which makes a great impact - the reader feels lost, disoriented, identifying themselves with the hapless protagonist. The ending is great - the overwhelming despair and darkness deprive the (very understandable) act of revenge of its liberating qualities; there is no consolation in it. Very emotionally unsettling and written with a lot of heart, this is an important and impressive piece, Tom.

Tue, October 17th, 2017 6:32pm


Thank you Oleg, I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I'm also glad you identified the chaotic structure of the story, creating an almost nightmarish situation for Emma.

Tue, October 17th, 2017 11:52am

Q.B. McKinney

I felt Emma's pain and cheered when the darkness within prevailed allowing her to achieve her freedom. A very well written story, my friend.

Wed, October 18th, 2017 2:04am


Thanks Q.B, really appreciated and I'm glad you liked it.

Tue, October 17th, 2017 11:22pm


Justice... A fleeting moment of truth, denied to most, as a commodity too pricey to attain, & out of the reach of all but a very few victims! A victory in a No-Win world, yet truly a rare crystal in worlds of plastic fakes!

Thu, October 19th, 2017 8:28am


Yes! A great day to describe Emma's triumph. I'm glad you liked it

Thu, October 19th, 2017 10:01am

Syn Michele

Great flow, this is really well written. The descriptions of the violence is incredibly well done. Great job

~ Syn

Wed, November 1st, 2017 2:59am


Thanks Syn, much appreciated.

Wed, November 1st, 2017 10:17am

Ethan Howard

A fantastic story, Tom.

A journey from hope to hell captured beautifully in a short story. Your command of sentences and the images they invoke are well done. You pulled us all into Emma's private misery, held us, and made us face a real horror that thousands of women deal with every day.

Ibsen's "A Doll's House" has nothing on your story.

Thank you for inviting me to read "Flames" I will check out your other stories.


Mon, November 6th, 2017 10:41pm


Thanks for the kind words Ethan, I'm glad you enjoyed it and appreciated the journey into the descent of the darkness of the mind.

Sat, November 11th, 2017 8:17am

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