The pungent smell of gasoline has finally made the dogs retreat. The red plastic of the empty tanks around the silo has started to shudder in the growing gust. Perhaps this isn’t the best weather to do this in. But the gas is already permeating the molding wheat inside.
I’d remembered days ago that when I was a child one of these silos, still full but out of use, had caught fire one summer. Being away from any major buildings and of no use to the owner of the land, the fire department had let it burn. For a while there was nothing out of the ordinary, just a blaze that could be seen from anywhere in town and the stench of burning, rotting bread. Then the heat drove them away. It burned with such an intensity that the firemen sat, half a mile away, watching it for several days.
I don’t intend to be here that long. It can raze the entire town for all I care. I hear barking in the distance. Behind me twenty or thirty yards away the twins stand barking with Cleaver behind them resting on his haunches in silence.
If anyone is watching via satellite, maybe they will see this. It’s a long shot, but if I leave without trying something like this I will think about it forever.
The campfire I’d started hours earlier is barely smoldering now, the whipping wind has blown out the flames. I pull a large stump with glowing embers at the end out of the middle of the pit. I walk towards the silo until the tan grass beneath my feet feels mushy. I toss the thick log towards the silo and run in the opposite direction. When I finally stop and turn around I wonder if the embers have gone out. Then I see a puff of white smoke that turns into a low flame. I keep expecting an unrealistic explosion of fire, but instead the fire takes several minutes to gain momentum. For the first twenty minutes I’m comfortable sitting far away, but as the fire burns hotter and brighter, hungry flames licking the sky like tongues, I have to move. I begin to walk home, I don’t need to watch. As we four climb the hill towards the mansion I walk by the video journal I recorded last night, now strapped to the first stop sign that leads into town. Bright pink electric tape and scribbled sharpie point to the tape and instructions, saved in a Ziploc bag to protect it against the weather. A record of my entire time here, each building I’d searched, where to find the best food, about the dogs that are now wild, a complete diary on the how-to of surviving in Danton. I also included a message for my family and notes on what route I would take once I left town. Maybe someone would show up and try to follow us.
As if on cue, I hear a familiar growl behind me.