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January 5, 2009
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"The trouble with most people is that they think with their hopes or fears or wishes rather than with their minds."
- WilLeom Durant


Stepping lightly along the worn wooden floors beneath her frail toes; she curled her wispy fingers around the banister. She slowly drifting upwards towards the scent she was hunting, careful not to touch the delicate boards that might creak in their age giving her presence away. Reaching the top, she twirled like a twisted ballerina in her excitement. With a hint of a smile she wafted darkly towards the door on her left; one of many that lined the hallway. Pressing herself against it, she could smell her prey, these youngling however were just beyond her reach, but attainable. Kneeling down, she sent forth a shapeless, shadowy army. She would remain…perched and ready to pounce… waiting with quiet anticipation for the very moment when her prey would try to escape her choking grasp.

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Zak had been sent to bed early that night, in trouble for something insignificant enough that he would never again remember why after this night. He lay asleep as young children do, sideways…with he head bent backwards slightly as it hang off the bedside. Hours later he could feel the slight prickle of an intruder against his nose; soon it began to sting his throat. They both turned to a sharp burning sensation, which quickly became unbearable enough to wake him. Annoyed, irritated, and cranky he rubbed his eyes and tried to clear his throat of this invading force; meanwhile the shadowy intruder continued to billow into the room. He searched for the foul smell that could no longer be ignored and sure enough, the other boys he shared this room with were stirring for the same reason.

Zak climbed from his bed, one sock covered foot touching the old wooden floor, one bare foot joining it moments later. He slowly began turning around in circles, but the cloudy substance had filled the entire room, disorienting him. He was soon joined by several of the other boys; the sounds of quiet sobbing could be heard all around him. But not Zak of course, he never cried. Never.

Zak could see a small bright light growing brighter and brighter against the window adjacent to the door; even through the thick fog it was bright. The moment he turned around to find the door, a loud crash came from direction of the light source and the room began to quickly go up in flames. The impact knocked Zak to the ground, knocking the wind out of him. Still he didn’t cry, despite the racket he could hear just beyond that door to his room; that door which was now blocked by what Zak would later claim as a raging inferno.

Stunned, Zak remained where he had fell; his mind still young and impressionable (though some would feel that it still is), he believed the stories Leo and some of the older kids would tell. He believed he would be rescued. So he remained put, trapped in the small box of fire that surrounded him and slowly began to close in on him. He could hear the wood crackling under the fire’s intrusion and as his space grew smaller and smaller his hope of rescue diminished equally.

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Leo had been rushing in and out several times to make sure all the children under her care had made it out of the fiery blaze. Standing a fair distance away, she quickly began counting, “Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen..." Keeping a mental tally on all the children, “Twenty-Eight…Twenty-Nine…Jonas; Jonas! Where’s your brother?”

Jonas eyed her questioningly then began craning his neck to quickly look for his twin brother, “I-I…I dunno?!?”

Quickly taking attendance she muttered, “Six…I’m missing six…” after a moment she realized which room she missed, “Zak?!?”

She waited silently for an answer but when none came she turned to the oldest and snapped, “Why did you let him wander off?!?”

They all turned to one another, and then eyed Leo as one replied, “We haven’t seen ‘im come out…”

Leo turned back to eye the house ablaze, the flames licking the rooftops of not just the orphanage, but the rest of the town as well.
Zak's age is around age 7-9 (he was a runt until his teenage years).

More chapters will come as I get the time.
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