Breaking point

Jamie felt sick, watching as Nero was escorted out of the box, and the body of that desperate man dragged away, leaving a smeared trail of blood behind him. He had watched two human men become degenerate animals, fighting for survival. Fighting for the entertainment of a bloodthirsty crowd. He had thought times had moved on since the original gladiators of the Roman times. Apparently, they hadn't.

And he hadn't seen Lilly in the audience. Lilly... Why am I even looking for her? The audience began to leave, and Jamie found himself fixed to his chair, much like he had been when he had watched Sam's body being dragged away. It was different this time, somehow. He still felt numb from the shock of Sam's death, but watching the man die then hadn't filled him with any grief, no loss, no nothing. He wondered if it was because he had no attachments to the man, or if it was an after effect of his brother's death.

Slowly, he rose, following the last people out of the box's complex. He walked slowly back to his house, not looking forward to spending the night completely alone again. His mind skipped to the next day, what he was going to do, how he was going to cope, whether he was going to look for Lilly or not. He considered skipping work altogether. People would cope if the gym wasn't open for one day.

He walked almost like a zombie, in a trance like state where he hardly noticed a thing as he walked, simply moving forward. Until he smelt the unmistakable tang of burning. He wondered vaguely what was on fire. It had been happening a lot recently, with the fire brigade pretty much cripple into non existence. He had never been too afraid for his gym. Though he knew businesses that threatened Zelos were being eliminated, he had never considered his gym to be much of a threat. If anything, the one on the other side of town was much bigger.

Flames licked the horizon, and with a twinge of anxiety, Jamie noticed that it was in the vague direction of his gym. The last piece of his sanity that he was clinging to was that business. All that he had left of his parents was a vegetable in the mental home that didn't know her own name any more, and a few pictures. He couldn't even remember his father's name. The gym and a little brother was all they had given him. He couldn't lose both of them so close together.

Jamie ran down the empty streets, his heart racing fearfully. He hardly noticed as a dark car drove past him. The smoke that billowed through the streets smothered him in a blinding fog. Ash twirled around him like a snow storm, though he hadn't seen one of those since he was two. Rounding the corner, he saw a couple of men trying to put out the flames, but they didn't seem to be succeeding.

His heart seemed to stop beating as he saw what the flames were attacking. Smoke curled around the sign over the door. It had once read "Bloodbox Training", but now all that could be seen was "Bloodbox" the rest of it obscured by the fire and the smoke. He cursed faster than the adrenaline entered his bloodstream, sprinting the rest of the distance to his gym.

He didn't hesitate to think about what he was doing as he smashed the glass in the front door, rushing inside to collect two more fire extinguishers. Emerging once more into the street with the other two men trying to help put out the flames, he handed one of the large canisters over to them and set to work with his own, praying for a heavy rainfall or something to  put the flames out.

The End

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