neelwrites/flash/fiction/shorstory/05/01/2020

PLAYING WITH FIRE

By Neel Anil Panicker

All of a sudden Tahir felt vulnerable.
His entire five foot spindly frame began to shake as spasmodic waves of sheer fright ran through his veins.
He felt his hands and feet shake even as hot beads of sweat began to trickle down his nape all the way down his spine.

For an instant he thought the world was going to end as all around him the earth and skies turned into fiery balls.

As his eyes began to burn and he felt his skin singe with the searing heat, he lifted his gaze far and wide.

Gone were the tall deodhar trees that stood, ramrod straight like sentinel’s all around the periphery of the mile length radius of the forest.

Gone too were the near non stop sonorous twittering of birds, gone too was the bumbling of overhanging bees from tree tops and the gone too were the soft thumping sound of deer passing by as their feet kissed the marshy overgrowth.

Instead, all Tahir could see and hear and feel and visualise were the remnants of the massive and sudden forest fires that had not just laid bare the trees of its leaves and sent all living creatures including man, beast and bird scurrying for cover.

An eerie silence as loud as thunder prevailed all over, a cruel ominous reminder that was lost or very near losing besides driving home the power of Nature over Man.

As he stared at the havoc that was unfolding before his eyes, Tahir realised to his dismay that he had way too far into the forest and if he were to survive this onslaught, he had to do something.

He mulled for a moment as his skin burnt and strange amorphous images began to dance in front of his eyes.

He knew he was losing sight; the searing heat was turning unbearable.

He turned around and ran as fast and as far as his weary feet could take him.

He cared not for direction, or place. All he wanted was to distance himself from the danger that surrounded him; to go as far away from it as he could.

God only knows how hard and for how long he ran. At some point he must lost consciousness, for when, a day thereafter, when he had regained sense, he found himself in hospital and had no answers to the doctor’s query, “Could you tell us what happened to you?”

And a few days later, after he had been brought home, all the fourteen year old had by way of an answer was “Mamma, I failed to find the eagle’s nest”.

#neelanilpanicker #flash #fiction #shortstory #writephoto

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