Delorian Walsh had gone to sleep once more to the sound of his father fiercely yelling at his mother, again accusing her of things that he couldn’t identify or comprehend. After checking on his younger sister and brother one more time to assure that they were each still sheltered from the barrage of hatred in the other room by a safety only the slumber of youth can ensure, Delorian climbed into his own bed and buried his head under the thin pillow and heap of blankets there – successfully blocking out the noise enough to allow him to drift fitfully to sleep.The scene the young boy awakened to was something out of a nightmare he had yet to have.
A weight on his chest so heavy and thick, that upon waking up to its anchoring effects on his body the youngster had initially concluded he had been pinned by a falling rooftop. Upon opening his stinging eyes however, Delorian was more than surprised to see that he was free and clear of any freak tree trunks or wooden beams. He instinctively sat upright then, still experiencing heaviness on his chest that he could not define; he breathed deeply in fear, unaware of the blazing flames just outside his bedroom door. The intake of putrid air and staling chemical smoke made him cough fitfully in the darkness as he swam around on the carpeted floor in search of his siblings. He was completely unable to see in the fogginess that had seemingly replaced the oxygen in the room.
It was then, in the sudden change of lighting and visibility, that the bedroom came alight with the orange-red-whiteness of an inferno. Through the suddenly blinding brightness the panicking boy noticed the bedroom door ajar slightly; and at the same moment his brain registered on a primal level that the beds of both his baby sister and younger brother were void of their tiny forms within. He shot up to a crouching position and was off toward the swinging door that connected to the hallway leading to the family room and kitchen. Immediately upon turning the corner into the hall, Delorian was inundated by the throttling effects of both extreme heat and severe smoke; a fire, ablaze with the flames of a dozen levels in Hell, formed a wall at the opposite end from his position.
The sheets of flame rose 7 feet up into the ceiling and continued up beyond, bright orange shards of pure heat energy enveloped mockingly with increasing volume and mass into the mouth of the hallway just ten feet ahead of where he stood. The noise was incredible and absolute, allowing no other sounds to pass; the smoke seemed to envelope the boy’s line of vision completely, allowing him only to make out the bundled heaps, one crawling very slowly towards the horrendous firelight and one perfectly still in the center of the family room floor.
“Oh my God, Mackie!” the boy coughed heavily after the first scream, “John!”
A deadly instinct overcame the eldest of the Walsh children then; his body seemed to go into auto-pilot somehow upon seeing his younger brother and sister in the midst of the blaze, helpless. Delorian choked back the fumes billowing towards him down the hallway now – his vision was almost faded totally out from the smoke and the strong chemical sting permeating in the air; he launched reflexively, in an arc that landed his small frame nowhere near the spot he had envisioned it would in his mind. The child fell on his open palms and bare knees in the very core of the fire’s blaze, a landing at least a meter further than he’d planned; he felt insanity there.
Quickly, Delorian tried to feel around in the spaces near where he landed, shuffling around in the thick smoke like a drunk in the gutter. He found nothing. The damage to his lungs had already permanently blocked out any true breaths of air, and even if it hadn’t – there was no air left inside the house to breathe. His face became painfully hot and his hair began to feel as if it were dripping down his forehead in molasses-like globules of magma; he was certain he felt his own lips curling inward against the white-heat of the metal braces in his mouth. The boy was exhausted and hardly able to inhale any longer; he collapsed to the smoldering carpet and passed out unconscious.