The fire

 

The alarm has been sounding for some time and everyone except Neil has left the office. ‘Would you please leave now,’ Angela says. As the floor fire warden it’s her responsibility to get everyone out. ‘It’ll just be another drill,’ Neil says, staring at his screen. ‘I’m working on something urgent.’ ‘I don’t care what you’re doing,’ Angela says. ‘Would you please get out of the building. You’re putting us both at risk.’ She thinks she can smell smoke. What if there really is a fire in the building? ‘Someone probably burnt some toast,’ Neil says. She goes to the door and pushes it open. There’s smoke drifting up the stairs. ‘Neil, there’s smoke out here. We’ve got to leave.’ ‘Yeah sure,’ he says, ‘Pull the other one.’ The smoke is denser on the next floor down, and she can hear the popping sound of burning wood. She takes off her hi-vis fire warden vest and ties it across her mouth and nose, then holding her breath plunges through the thick smoke to the lower floors, collapsing finally into the arms of a fire officer. ‘Anyone else up there?’ he asks. ‘No,’ Angela says, choking for breath. ‘No, I’m pretty sure everyone got out.’

 

 

 

 

Simon Collings


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