We got a call from some old coot. He said he was a farmer, a couple miles outside the city. Said he saw a tree near his house burst into flames. I dunno how that happened, maybe a lightning strike or something, but it's not my job to ask why the fires start. I just put 'em out.
I got in the truck with Jacobs and Hoffman; we sped out to the address the guy gave us. Barely needed it; he had the only house for miles. When we hosed the tree down, it didn't go out. We stood out there for hours and blasted water all over that damn tree, but it refused to go out. We eventually gave up and left; told the old coot that he should call us back if it spread. He put up a stink about that, told us he expected us to pay for any burnt crops. We just told him that we couldn't help him.
The old coot called us back. He said that the fire had grown since Thursday. We took two trucks this time.
We still couldn't put the damn fire out, no matter what we did to it. Told the farmer we still didn't know what to do. He told us that we were lousy as hell firefighters and that he would personally call the city and see our asses fired, or something like that. Bailey got in a shouting match with the old coot; he never did deal with things like that well.
While the other guys were trying to pull Bailey and the old coot apart, I took a look at the fire we had failed to put out twice. It was weird; the fire wasn't burning the tree. it was just... in the area around the tree. That doesn't make much sense, but seeing it didn't make any sense either... God damn it was weird.
He called yet a third time. This time the old coot was bellyaching about how not only were we terrible firefighters for not putting out his burning tree, but that the fire had spread and was now burning up part of his field and was quite close to his house, and that some crazy fools had gathered around his house to marvel at the fire. We told him that if he's being bothered by people hanging around on his property, he should call the police; he told us he did, and that he was calling us to see if we could possibly put his fire out today.
We got to the old coot's house just as the cops were taking away the idiots who had nothing better to do than stare at a fire. Most of them were muttering something under their breath. It sounded weird, from what I could hear, like Hebrew or something. But it wasn't Hebrew; Bronson's Jewish, and he taught me a little Hebrew, though, so I knew this wasn't that.
The fire still wouldn't go out; the old guy seemed to be resigned to the fact that this fire was gonna burn his house down now, whatever we did. He let us leave without even a complaint. I checked out the fire again, though. It still wasn't exactly burning anything. And it didn't sound like a fire. It whispered. it sounded like a crowd of people whispering. Maybe it was just my ears playing tricks, but it was scary as all hell.
We were on our way to a fire call even further out in the sticks. We passed the old coot's house on the way. The fire was even bigger now; part of the guy's house was in it. I felt really guilty. We should have been able to put the fire out... Now this guy was paying the price for it.
On our way back - from a normal fire that goes out when you spray it with water, thank God - the house was surrounded by white vans. Guys in white coats were all around, looking at the fire. I had no idea what was going on, but Dean wouldn't stop the truck; said it was none of our business. before was passed the place, I saw the old coot being loaded into a van. I guess they were just moving him away from the weird fire, but I had a bad feeling about whatever was going on over there.
I drove out to the old coot's house on the weekend. I had to know what was going on over there. When I got out of my car, one of the white-coat guys told me to leave, that I wasn't authorized to be there or something like that. I told them that I was a firefighter; he said that his organization - he never gave me its name - was called over because this fire that refused to go out was weird enough that it should be kept from the public. I was pretty confused, but he wouldn't explain anymore; he waved me away and said that if I came back again he would send me off someplace. I was creeped out enough to listen to the guy.
We got another fire call out in the sticks. It's been a dry season; I guess things are bound to burn. When we tried to take the road out of there, we found it blocked off. The fire had grown even more, and was spread over the old coot's house and his whole field.
The same guy in the white coat I talked to on Sunday was there; he told us that we had to leave. We said that there was a fire down the road and we needed to go put it out, but he told us something about how he would send someone else to take care of it and that we had to turn back.
I will never forget what happened next. Bailey jumped out of the truck and got right up in the guy's face, shouting at him about how we had to go save some people's lives from this fire and calling him all sorts of terrible things. Two huge guys ran over and each grabbed one of Bailey's arms and lifted him up, carrying him kicking and screaming into one of the white vans. Then the white-coated guy glared at us and said - I will never forget this - "I suggest that you leave."
We high-tailed it back. I don't know how we explained not putting out the fire we were called to and losing Bailey; we drew straws. That was Truman's responsibility, not mine. I couldn't sleep that night, though. I felt really guilty about it.
I drove out to the fire again. Not right up to it; I didn't want to get taken to who knows where. I could see it from a lot farther away now; it was huge. It was probably on the road now. Those guys probably had to move farther back.
I saw a lot of people with tents set up. I think they were the same people that the old coot called the cops on, or at least from the same... group, or whatever. There were dozens of them camped out along the road.
I dunno how the white coat guys thought they were going to keep this a secret. I could see it from almost a mile off. I could hear it too, and it wasn't whispering anymore. It was talking now. It was talking with a hundred voices, in the same weird language of the people in the tents.
You can see it from the fire hall now. It's huge.
Someone ran past the fire hall, laughing like a maniac. We stopped him and asked him what he was doing. He screamed, "The fire is here! The fire is here! We shall call to it and it shall answer and free us! For you it is too late!" He ran off cackling. All this weird stuff is really taking a toll on our minds.
It's right up against the city's edge now. It's no longer speaking. It's screaming. Its hundred voices are shouting in that language. This all sounds crazy, even to me, and I'm living through it.
The guys in white coats obviously failed at whatever they were trying to do with the fire. We saw an unmarked white helicopter fly overhead, with that same guy's voice blaring down. Something about an evacuation. I couldn't hear him. The fire was screaming too loud.
There are more of those crazy people, like the ones in the tents. Maybe it's just the fire driving people insane. I'm surprised I'm not totally cracked, having to live next to a screaming fire. I suppose it's just a matter of time now.
They started evacuating today. I suppose it's too late for some of those poor people in the suburbs. Their houses got covered by the fire. It's still not burning anything, it's just there. It's maddening.
The voices are even louder now. I can't take it much longer.
Everybody else is gone, except for those crazies running through the streets. I'm staying behind.
I don't know why I decided not to leave. All my friends are gone. Hoffman and Truman and Bronson and Jacobs and everybody else is gone. I stayed with the crazy people. I'm probably crazy myself by now. I guess I just wanted to see what would happen. What would happen when this fire, that wouldn't go out when water was poured on it and that screamed in a hundred voices and an evil language and that didn't burn what was beneath it and that was now consuming half the city, got to me.
It's outside the window.
gaahk dos myarushak
The Fire is here.
We shall call to it.
thaarak hk'klauiphtiki kll
For you it is too late.
For me it is too late.
You shall burn.
And I shall burn.
Credited to dodoman1