Sirens clamored as emergency vehicles rushed to the apocalypse. A blaze had consumed a brand new furniture store near Atlanta. Bodies lay on the ground like lifeless mannequins, some suffering from smoke inhalation. Paramedics wondered whether life remained while others lay on the ground blood-stained and unconscious.
The contents inside the building crackled like crumpling paper as embers sparked from windows like fireworks. The building creaked and moaned as flames spewed from it like a fire-breathing dragon. The windows, two in the middle especially, had a demonic glow about them as if they were eyeing their next morsel. Firefighters labored to squelch the conflagration to no avail.
Cars careened out of control. People heard tires screeching and metal crunching as vehicles collided. The maniacs behind the wheels gawked at the scene, causing them to hit poles, each other, and pedestrians. Tires hissed as life drained from them due to the impact.
Paparazzi-like bystanders scrambled to the commotion and dripped with sweat as they gazed in the sweltering August heat. They raised their cell phones in anticipation of posting the chaos on social media. Others waved at TV cameras in attempts to grasp their five minutes of fame.
News reporters from three major networks swarmed the area like bees and jockeyed for position, eager to be the first to share their version of the catastrophe.
Brenna Staithe sprang up from her pillow as the mayhem jolted her from her stupor in her Druid Hills home. Her head throbbed like a pulsating heart from last night’s overindulgence.
Brenna had three children; however, plastic surgery and her contributions to the cosmetic industry masked her middle-aged appearance. Her eyes were green emeralds. Her physique remained intact and could turn heads, thanks to her dedication to her treadmill and weights.
Despite her efforts to stay young, Brenna felt like an aging crone abandoned in a nursing home and left to rot. Her cad of a husband put her on display when he entertained guests on rare occasions, if he decided to come home at all. He would have his way with her both physically (nothing she ever did or said was appropriate in front of company), and sexually, to satisfy his drunken appetite, once the guests had left. Since he acquired her as one of his conquests, he had pretty much done away with her.
Her husband, Chad Staithe, worked as a biotechnology engineer. He had swept her off her feet in college and charmed her into marrying him. He tended to her long enough to consummate and propagate, but left her to rear three spoiled imps who had since grown up to become ungratuitous ogres.
The Staithes’ home flaunted wealth with pretentiousness. The custom-built mansion had a built-in swimming pool and Jacuzzi. Each occupant had his own bedroom suite with all of the accommodations of a small apartment unit.
A long, curved, oak wood staircase, embellished by a wrought-iron banister, separated the upstairs from the first floor. A decorative chandelier descended from the top of the house to the center, crying for attention. The living room, a den, and an open kitchen beautified the home with red oak hardwood floors.
The kitchen was a surgical suite made of stainless steel designed to create a pristine ambience. Except for the arched brick wall that hung over the stove, the canary yellow walls with white trim emanated brightness as they shrouded the gloominess hidden within.
Every room was an immaculate veil trying to mask the stains and obscenities that plagued this household.
The high ceilings in each room displayed custom-made chandelier-fans for circulating the much needed air conditioning on hot Atlanta days. Their guest house, near the pool area, was a den of debauchery.
Brenna sat up and yelled like a child on the playground. “CJ, come here! There are sirens everywhere! Go turn on the TV downstairs!”
“Turn it on your own dumb self! I’m in my bedroom!” he said as he scowled, his eyes glued to his computer screen.
Twenty-four-year-old Chad Junior, the oldest of the brood, had brown eyes which had become cold and dark like a lost soul. A scar on his forehead tainted his handsome looks. Every time he looked in the mirror he wished he could turn back the clock. He had accidentally scratched his father’s Beamer while riding his bike when he was nine. His father hurled a shoe at him in a fit of rage. The injury left permanent scars that went beyond the surface. Afterwards his bike collected dust and rusted away much like his relationship with his dad.
Despite his scar-tainted forehead, girls drooled over him. However, he preferred girls in his world of virtual reality which spiraled into an addiction. He relied on his fetish as a form of
escapism. Since his pubescence, he mainly stayed in his room like a hermit. He barely finished high school, yet his father compelled him to go to college. He dropped out after a semester. His father cared about his grades more than he did.
He tore himself away from his computer to grab some binoculars he had bought. He noticed billowing clouds of black smoke as the inferno, which looked like a small forest fire by now, could be seen for blocks.
“Get outta that bedroom, Chad, and get a life!” Brenna screamed. “I’m tired of you staring at that dumb computer all day!” She began to place her feet on the floor until his words stopped her in her tracks.
“What’s wrong with the TV in your room?”
She didn’t answer. Her TV laid shattered and lifeless much like her marriage. In her drunkenness she neglected to turn on the light as she attempted to reach her bed. She lost balance as she groped in the dark. She grabbed onto the closest thing to break her fall. The TV supported her before it didn’t.
Brenna jumped up and scrambled for her gun.