Ted had a secret, and went to great lengths to keep it.

Raw, candid, colorful feedback to anarchy9876@yahoo.com

This wasn’t how Ted saw his day going when he stirred from his bed early this morning.  Today was supposed to be all about his video job interview with the small manufacturing plant on the other side of the country.  His master plan was quickly unraveling as a random spark ignited a chain reaction while he and several others were filling their gas tanks at the huge convenience store/truck stop.

He liked the biscuits and gravy bowl this place offered each morning and the energy drink that would help carry him through the mundane list of tasks that faced him every fifteen years or so.  The withdrawal of his savings from several banks over the last few months was the most important part of starting a new life, but there was also coordinating with movers to get his stuff into the first of four or five storage facilities in different states.  He would have to live without those things for the next couple years before they joined him in his next ‘life’.  There would be no change of address card in his immediate future. 

He purposely made his girlfriend’s life miserable for the last few weeks, so the only thing left of her was the faint smell of her perfume in the bathroom.  He just needed to finish packing, contact the utility companies, and then vacate his rented house.  He went through the entire list in his head as he pumped the last bit of fuel into his little, four-door, third hand sedan.  It didn’t matter how the spark occurred; whether it was static or some idiot who thought the ground was his ashtray.  The only thing that mattered was the inferno that was suddenly raging through this little corner of the normally boring town.

Several people were screaming and thrashing about as the fire consumed everything in its path, organic or otherwise.The lady he was admiring during his fill up was quickly reduced to a quivering mass of goo, next to her expensive SUV.  The immaculate silver paint on her ride was transformed into a bubbling, peeling mess that seemed to drip onto the ground, like wax from a burning candle.

“This is freaking great” he muttered as he could hear the sirens in the distance.  Screams could be heard on the outskirts of the carnage as the residual fiery fuel sprayed like an indiscriminate flame thrower at the people who were either too stupid or stunned to run away after the explosion of the first of the fuel pumps.  The entire area looked like a Vietnam-era napalm attack had been launched against them.

He worried that is key would melt before he could pop open his truck and climb inside.  He did his best to make sure no one who mattered; who weren’t currently on fire could see him standing there as his shorts and t-shirt were burning away from him.  As he pulled the lid down on his temporary ‘home’ and heard it click, he felt slightly less apprehensive about the whole thing.  He was actually calm enough to run through the aforementioned details of his move again.

Ted awoke to silence.  The entire area of the incident was taped off, as it was being treated like a crime scene; until bodies could all be identified and next of kin were notified.  There were only two security people; provided by the parent company of the convenience store still at the scene.  Ted picked the last little bit of melted fabric from his forearm as he contemplated his escape.  He could still smell the residue of the flame retardant foam that at one time covered the entire scene.  It did its job; stealing all traces of oxygen and smothering the fire.  As he ‘jimmied’ the latch mechanism on the trunk, one of the security people heard the scratching noises and came to investigate.  When he saw the naked man climbing out the burnt up car’s trunk he gasped.  He wasn’t sure if he wanted to scream or rush to help the overlooked survivor.  Instead, he just remained frozen in place as a naked Ted walked up and put one hand on the back of the guard’s head and one across his nose and mouth.  This man wouldn’t have the opportunity to tell this tale as the lack of oxygen soon forced his soul to join the others who had perished here earlier.

Ted walked into his home carrying the notice that he found hanging on his front door.  The police needed to know if there was any next of kin to identify the body, or burnt up human remains, that would eventually be found in or around his vehicle.  He laughed as he worked out in his head the tale of the stolen car, and his long walk home since his phone was in the car when it was ‘jacked’.  The video at the gasplex was consumed with the fire, so there would be no visual record of his visit there.  The security guy was collateral damage to the life Ted had known for many hundreds of years.  He felt bad about the price the innocent man paid to keep this very big secret.  Ted wasn’t a ‘monster’ necessarily, but he also wouldn’t be scheduling a ‘fitting’ for red tights and a cape any time soon.

Submitted: October 12, 2021

© Copyright 2023 wellokiguess. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Facebook Comments

More Science Fiction Short Stories

Boosted Content from Other Authors

Book / Thrillers

Short Story / Literary Fiction

Short Story / Thrillers

Book / Fantasy

Other Content by wellokiguess

Short Story / Romance

Short Story / Other