Short Story: California Wildfire

If you recently lost or nearly lost a loved one in a natural disaster, this story may be emotionally jarring for you.

This story is a work on fiction based on real life events. To help those affected, donate to the Los Angeles Fire Department or to the California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund

If you recently lost or nearly lost a loved one in a natural disaster, this story may be emotionally jarring for you.

Orange County had always faced extreme droughts and, most severe of all, wildfires. Marcus bright green eyes shot open he had woken up in a sudden outburst that morning as he breathed in and out as if he had run a 25 mile marathon. Sitting up from his bed he looked at the alarm clock on his night table as it read 11:00am. He stroked his brown curls back. His face radiated heat. He hated the Californian heat. “Mom!” Marcus called out.

He received no answer and he stood up and traveled down to the living room as a mysterious tap tap tap tap of four paws followed him. Marcus turned around to see his small golden retriever behind him. “Oh hey boy!”

He looked out through the big window, noticing a train of cars traveling down the road and, as he got closer to the window, people rushing out of their homes with their valuables, traveling down their driveways with worried looks.

He looked toward the driveway noticing his mother’s car was still parked there. “What in the world?” he asked himself, puzzled. Marcus looked out towards the mountainous terrain that surrounded his neighborhood as large clouds of black smoke had formed. He quickly dialed his mother’s phone but got no response. “Damn it,” he thought, “please don’t be with Meredith,” he wished. The sirens of three large fire trucks zoomed past the neighborhoods heading toward the mountains.

“If mom is with Meredith, she’s that way,” he thought as he looked toward the mountains, the clouds of dark smoke beginning to rise higher and higher, bigger and bigger, darker and darker.

Marcus headed toward the front door with the car keys on hand. “I’m not risking it, come on Sol.” He started his mother’s red truck, speeding towards a secret forest trail. As he traveled down the large pathway of dead trees, he veered right and left avoiding the trunks of dead trees that had recently fell. The whistles of the wind screamed louder and louder as he traveled uphill. Suddenly, a radio connection miraculously intersected with the car

“A sudden outburst of flames has occurred on the southwestern sides of Yosemite park and towns nearby will immediately be effected,” the radio host announced. “We recommend that you find your closest shelter. If you live in a neighborhood that lies in a 20 mile radius of the fire, we recommend you leave the area immediately, travel on downhill roads, and stay low at all times,” his voice informed.

Smoke rises above a forest.

Marcus stepped harder on the gas pedal, risking everything. As the forest of trees seemed to end he reached a sudden road, no cars seemed to appear but if he took the normal concrete road he would have to go around the mountain. He had no time, he went across going toward the other side straight through the dead trees. The road narrowed and he began to get nervous as black clouds of smoke seemed to approach and ashes began to cover the car windows, limiting his vision. He couldn’t see anymore and if he happened to crash into a tree it would be fatal. “I’ll have to run,” he contemplated.

He looked at Sol and then at the barely visible road and he came to a sudden halt and stepped out into the smoky atmosphere. It smelled like burnt wood and pine needles. He ran faster and faster, the skeletons of small houses became visible far ahead. The fire had passed through destroying everything behind. A large dark figure among the trees hit Marcus with a sudden impact, he flew across and fell onto his side. He tried to get up as he held his side, he realized it had been a deer that had speed through trying to find its herd.

Sol began to bark at the deer, “ARF! ARF!

“Sol! Shut up! Come here!” Marcus screamed

“Sol?!” a mysterious voice resounded behind the dark trees.

Marcus’ mother appeared, barely holding onto her friend Meredith. Her face dark with ashes, she was limping with a broken ankle. “Mom! Oh God! I can’t believe I found you!” Marcus screamed in relief. He ran up to her, he was six feet, much more taller than her and with a quick grab he picked her up.

“She saved us Marcus, she saved me when the fire was consuming my house, she’s a fighter, like you,” Meredith said. Marcus mom had passed out from the smoke and exhaustion that had consumed her. He held his mother tight as they ran up to his car. They reached the car and Marcus drove toward the city. He took his mother to the closest hospital he could. He waited and waited without rest.

Marcus’ mother had been in a coma for two days and he had begun to get worried. News on the TV had announced that the fire had consumed all towns in Orange County, thus leaving Marcus without a home. However, the only thing that mattered to him was that his mother was safe. On the third day Marcus’ mother bright green eyes opened.

She had regained consciousness.

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