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INFERNO

AN INQUIRY INTO THE WILLINGHAM FIRE

Published by J Bennett Allen on Smashwords

Copyright 2011 by J Bennett Allen

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Introduction

Amber was once again drawn to the heater, to its bright flickering flame, to its warmth, to its forbidden mysteries and charms. Both Mommy and Daddy had caught her before, putting things too close to it. Daddy had even given her whuppings, but he was asleep in the other room, and Mommy was not even home.

Perhaps she wanted to move some of the fire from the heater to her Little Tykes oven sitting nearby. Perhaps she simply wanted to put something inside the heater and watch it disappear.

Maybe a piece of drawing paper. Maybe one of her socks, the one she wasn't wearing when she was pulled barely alive from the house. Maybe it was the sock that was never found.

Whatever it was, when it burned it was scarier than the fire in the heater. It burned closer and closer to her finger and her thumb as she held it at arm's length. But it was so hot. It was the hottest, scariest thing she had felt, ever, so she flung it away, and then the curtain was on fire. The curtain between the heater and her little oven was on fire. She was going to get in trouble again. She was going to get another whupping.

Fear of anger and whuppings, though, were quickly overcome by horror. The fire was growing larger and larger and scarier and scarier. She retreated as the fire climbed the wall to the ceiling. The smoke got inside her and made her cough. She could feel the heat on her skin, on her face and neck and shoulders. She had to get away, but the gate was there, blocking the doorway, keeping her from the safety of her Daddy's arms.

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