Razing Questions

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
A dark look into the making and the mind of an arsonist on the loose, and how things have a way coming back around to you, full circle.

Submitted: July 01, 2008

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Submitted: July 01, 2008

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Razing Questions
A short story by Josh Fraga
 
Ever since he was a child, Bruce Lassard was mesmerized by fire. He loved it, the way the flames would dance in the wind, how they would lick up to anything above it, eventually consuming it in a blaze of red and yellow light. He loved the way fire illuminated a dark sky, and a big enough fire could make it as bright as daylight. He loved the warmth it gave in the cold, like it was an old friend with a blanket. He loved how the heat from the fireplace would almost kiss his cheek as he sat there, watching the flames bounce around like a ballet. He also loved fireworks. With those jets of colored fire, which shined to light up the night sky. He never missed a fireworks show, it reminded him about how benevolent fire can be. He loved how the painted flames would slowly fall back to Earth leaving behind it a small trail of smoke. Most of all, he loved the destructive force. Man has always tried to harness the destructive force of fire, but he has always kept little control of it. He loved the fact that fire is the one element man still seeks to have power over. The closest man has ever come to controlling raw fire is the match, and the cigarette, both of which could still burn down a house if you let it.  He loved with wildness of it all, like the fire had a mind of its own, telling it to constantly spread everywhere it could reach. He loved to see a building become completely consumed by fire, the walls, the floor, ceilings, and pictures, all turned to a pile of ashes. It amazed him that to destruction of a whole three story office building could happen by a single match. Yes, Bruce Lassard loved fire, I suppose that’s why he became an arsonist.
Although Bruce loved to play with matches, he still got burned. His body had all sorts of different scars where he had burned himself. His most apparent scar was the one on his face. When he was 11 years old, Bruce lived with his grandparents for a short while. They lived in a small town just north of El Paso. It was the type of town that had nothing to do, but they sold fireworks year-round. It was illegal to set them off in town, but that would have never stopped Bruce Lassard. He went to the fireworks stand and bought the largest bottle-rocket he could buy. It was called ‘The Patriot’; it was printed up and down the sides of the rocket in red, white, and blue. He took it to his grandparents back yard.
His grandparents were not rich people, but being in the country, they had a lot of land. There was an old dead oak tree that was in the center of the acre-wide backyard. It had no leaves, and very few branches. He placed the rocket in an empty beer bottle he found on the walk home. He knew it was still daylight out, so he might not even see the colors in the bright azure sky. He didn’t care, what he wanted was the boom. So he lit the small fuse and ran to a safe distance. He watched as the fuse burned slowly as it led into the chamber that had the gunpowder. Within fifteen seconds the fuse was gone, burning up with a quiet ‘hissing’ noise. He waited eagerly for the rocket to take off, but nothing happened. He waited two minutes before examining it. He walked up to it and picked it up, and turned it upside down to try and see what went wrong. No sooner than he did that, sparks shot out of the bottom of the rocket like a fire hose, hitting Bruce directly in the face. He dropped the rocket and screamed for help. He began to run back to the farm house for help when he tripped over a rock embedded in the soil. Holding his burnt face, he lay on the ground, weeping, that is, until he turned around. It was the tree, when he dropped the bottle-rocket it must have set the dry, dead wood on fire. It stood there ablaze, like Moses and the burning bush, and Bruce could not take his eyes off of it, it was the most beautiful thing Bruce had ever seen. The flames made a thick smoke that he was sure people could see for miles. He didn’t even care he was burnt now, all he wanted to do was watch the fire. It wasn’t long till his grandparents ran out and called the ambulance, and the small fire truck the town owned. They rushed him to the hospital in the next town and got him patched up, although he permanently lost his senses of taste and smell. He was sitting in the emergency room when the doctor came up to him and said, “Now, did you learn a lesson about playing with fire?”
Bruce looked up and smiled, “Oh yes sir,” the doctor gave him a smile and walked away as Bruce finished his sentence under his breath, “I’ll be more careful next time.” And that is when Bruce Lassard was reborn in fire, from that day on.
 
Bruce now lived in a small house on the outskirts of Dallas, a very modest home, you never would have guessed an arsonist lived there. Although this was his house, he was rarely at home. He was always into something. When he first moved there, he would set abandoned or closed businesses on fire, not for any reason except just to do it. He would set a fire, then he’d lay low the rest of the month, then he would do it again. He never got caught, no one knows why, maybe he was a little to cunning for Dallas law enforcement, never-the-less he continued his guilty pleasure. It wasn’t until he set a large house on fire when he decided he loved to watch people burn too. He loved to watch them try to get out from across the street, he loved to hear them scream for help, and he loved to watch them burn when help came too late. Since the first time he killed with fire, he had done it five more times, each one a residence, an occupied residence. He didn’t care if they were elderly, or had kids or a dog, he just wanted to feed the monkey on his back. And feed he did.
He never really knew anyone, not even his neighbors, the scarring on his face made it hard for him to make ‘friends’. He just sat at home smoking cigarettes, his other guilty pleasure, even though the ads on TV said they would be the death of him. After his parents died in a car wreck, he never really talked to anyone, except himself. August 18, 2003, he sat at his humble abode about to make himself some dinner, this would be Bruce Lassard’s last day of his life. He walked to his freezer and pulled out a frozen lasagna. It was the cheap kind, but it didn’t matter to him, he couldn’t taste or smell it anyway. He set the oven to preheat at 400 degrees and went to sit on his couch as he waited for it to get warm. He turned on the TV to Cartoon Network, although he loved setting fires, he did night like watching it on the news, he felt the newscast seemed to ‘take away’ from the beauty that was the fire. There he sat, watching cartoons like he was 11 again, laughing and giggling like he wasn’t the monster he was. It was about 30 min when he got the eerie feeling he was not the only person in the house. He looked around, but saw nothing. He decided to go to the bathroom to wash his face.
He made his way there and stood in front of the sink, starring at the scarring across his face in the mirror. He bent down to splash some cold water on his cheeks, but when he stood back up, his heart almost stopped. He could have sworn he saw someone standing behind him the mirror’s reflection.
He didn’t know what it was, all he knew was he saw something, just for a split second. He quickly whipped around to see behind him, but nothing was there. He had a sick feeling now in his stomach, and was beginning to feel dizzy. He stumbled to the couch and took a seat. ‘What is the matter with me?’ he thought, and he focused his attention back to the TV. He tried to find humor in the cartoons, but he could not shake the ominous feeling that he was not alone in his house, so he decided to search.
First his bedroom: he looked in his closet, behind his clothes, under his boxes, nothing. He looked under his bed as if he were going to find some kind of monster, but still, nothing. Next he checked the bathroom again, nothing, he was starting to feel better. Now he was going to check the living room where he watched TV, and walk through the opening behind the couch into the kitchen, and check there. He was finding nothing in his living room, but he began to get that same sick feeling. Still he found nothing. He walked through the door way behind the couch into the kitchen. On the outside, it looked normal, but Bruce had a bad feeling about this room. He cautiously stepped in, looking to his left and right, half-expecting something to jump out at him. Slowly, he began to look in the cabinets and drawers. One at a time he opened them up and was relieved, until he got to the drawer on the right side of the stove.
He had the sickest feeling, standing there in front or the small wooden drawer beside the stove, but still, his hand crept to the handle. He took a tight grasp on the wooden and brass handle, and took a last deep breath as sweat began to poor down his face. He pulled the drawer open as quickly as you would remove a band-aid, and he felt horror when he saw what was within. In place of his forks, and knives, lay a severed hand, fresh and bleeding, and to Bruce’s dread, was laying palm down and was… moving.
He jumped back in fright, falling against the open cabinets and drawers, some spilling on the floor. The hand began to crawl up the side of the open drawer, it was coming to get him. Bruce kicked the drawer closed with such a force it chopped of the hand’s fingertips. He ran around the stove and counter when he tripped and hit his head on the hard wood floor, knocking him out, it would be two hours till he would again awake.
 
Bruce woke up and opened his eyes, his head hurt from the hit on the floor. He stumbled to his feet. He makes his way back to his couch and collapses. He feels so weak, still he tried to focus on cartoons. It’s funny for a while until the sick feeling returns. All of the sudden he is dizzier than ever, it feels like he’s tied to a giant wheel, spinning out of control. ‘What is happening?’ he thought. Then all of the sudden the spinning ceases. His hands on the side of his head he screams, “Who are you!” But still no answer.
But then he looks into the doorway of the kitchen and saw what could only be described as a zombie. It’s flesh the color of a gray cloudy sky. Bruce looked on in fright as the monster came closer to him. It was so rotten, Bruce couldn’t tell if it was man or woman. If it was anything, it was more skeleton. The bones and fingers dripped blood as it made it’s way across the floor. Bruce turned to run except he was blocked by another zombie blocking his bedroom door. This one was definitely a man, talk and very scary with one eye hanging out of his socket. Then he too began to approach Bruce. He did not know what to do, he cowered on the couch, curled up in a ball like a housecat, wishing this was not real. He heard the slopping footsteps come closer and closer. The sound of the blood hit the hard word floor was like fingernails on a chalk board. He was very dizzy now, the room was spinning again, uncontrollable. He can see flashes of the most horrific things imaginable: his parents death, zombies, ghosts of people he had killed. It was like everyone decided to return to punish him. He could feel their hands grabbing at him, there were so many he can’t count them. They grab and paw at him and at his clothes, ripping them apart, he can’t see, now he’s blind, but he still feels them. Then, as they began to tear at his skin and he thought all hope was lost, they were gone.
He peered out of his fetal position, and slowly looked at his surroundings. Everything was normal, he still felt the same sick feeling, but he was alone. The weight of what happened must have still been crushing him in someway, because he still felt weak and dizzy. He saw his cartoons were still on, although nothing seemed to make sense to him. It was as if he went asleep and woke up dumb. He felt silly, and anxious at the same time. Then, again, he felt the presence of something. There was something wrong, the walls looked as if they were made of candle wax, beginning to melt. Pictures, furniture, even the floor was beginning to melt. He needed to relax, this couldn’t be real. This had to be a figment of his imagination. It was as if he took a massive amount of LSD, but these things could not be real, could they. He can feel his heart pounding like a cattle drum beneath his chest, he needs to calm down. Then he was able to focus his eyes just enough to see his coffee table, and sitting on top, his pack of cigarettes. ‘If only I could get one.’, he thought, ‘Just one to calm down.’. His arms hung in the air like they were suspended by unseen strings, as he reached for his cigarettes. He slowly leaned forward toward the cigarettes till he fell of the couch onto the floor. He reached his hand up in an almost zombie like way and grasped the pack of cigarettes. He brought them down and fiddled open the pack. Out fell four cigarettes and a lighter, ‘Just one.’ He thought. He slowly placed the filtered end of the cigarette in his mouth, even the taste of the filter felt calming, and then he picked up the lighter. He held it clumsily in front of his face to like the cigarette, ‘Finally.’, he thought peacefully to himself, and he struck the lighter, and that is when he died.
Some people would raise the question: Why was Bruce Lassard visited by ghosts? The answer is simple: He wasn’t. Bruce forgot something very important that night, his dinner. He set the oven to 400 degrees, but the pilot light was out. So as Bruce sat watching cartoons as his house slowly began to fill with gas. As the gas filled the room, Bruce began to inhale it, but since he can neither smell nor taste, he had no idea. The fumes of the gas caused him to hallucinate and become sick-feeling and dizzy. The reason he felt better in his bedroom, is because it was cut off from the kitchen, it didn’t have much gas. And on the opposite end, that is why his hallucinations were so bad by the stove. He panicked and inhaled deeply, which then caused him to pass out. So all the time he was unconscious the house began to fill more and more with natural gas, he was lucky to even wake up. By the time he decided he wanted a cigarette the house was filled, but Bruce, half-conscious and hallucinating, did not notice. So when he lit his lighter, that was the end of Bruce Lassard, dying in the same kind of blaze he would start. The funny thing is that the TV ads were right all along, cigarettes were the death of him.


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