Sunday, January 29, 2012
Trial by Fire, Part 1
This is the first chapter of Trial by Fire. This was really fun for me, and a challenge. I hope you enjoy!!
Twelve year old Alice Baker sat on the edge of her bed and pulled up her olive stockings. Today was Sunday, and Alice was getting ready to go to church. Alice and her family lived in the bustling city of Chicago, in 1871. They lived in a small apartment on the corner of Market St. and Chicago Ave.
“You’d better hurry, slow poke!” James, Alice’s five year old younger brother said, as he hurried down the hallway.
“I’m coming,” she replied, giving her scratchy stockings a hard yank. Alice ran down the hall and into the living room. There her family waited, Bibles in hand. Mother looked lovely in her pale blue dress and Father in his jacket and hat. Little James had his brown trousers on, that were a tad bit too small.
“Alice, we will be late! Hurry, I hear the church bells already!” Mother scolded. The Baker Family headed down the stairs and out the front doors. They walked down the street to the church that stood right on Chicago Ave. The chimes clanged as the organ started and the congregation began to sing. The Bakers slipped into the back row. Alice smiled at her friend, Irene Hamilton. They had met three years ago when Irene and her family had moved to Chicago and joined the church.
After the sermon, the church was dismissed. Children scurried through the open doors and out into the beautiful sunlight. The adults stood around and talked. Alice immediately went over to where Irene was standing.
“Hi, Irene,” she said.
“Oh, hi, Alice.” Irene turned and smiled. Irene had bright red hair and freckles. Her big green bow peeked over the top of her head and complemented her bright green eyes.
“So have you heard about all the fires?” Irene asked, wide eyed.
“Fires? I’ve heard a little, why?” Alice replied, a little hesitant. She didn’t like to think about the fires.
“Well, there have been twenty fires in the past week. Just imagine. Twenty!” Irene exclaimed.
“Uh, let’s go outside,” Alice said, quickly.
“It’s too chilly.” Irene complained, rubbing her arms.
“Let’s go uh- get a drink!” she suggested.
“I’m not thirsty.”
“Alice!” Irene cut in. “What is the matter with you?”
“Oh, I don’t know. It’s just that everybody has to keep talking about fires. Don’t they have anything pleasant to talk about?” Alice asked.
“I don’t know,” was all Irene could say.
“Mmm… These biscuits are good, dear.” father said. The family was gathered around the dining room table for supper that night.
“I’m glad you like them,” Mother replied, cutting a piece of sausage.
“My friend, Jimmy Darling,” James started. “his house burned on Friday.” he said, stuffing his mouth full of egg.
“James, have some manners. You know, I did hear about that. Eliza Williamson was saying something similar. These fires are just getting out of control! You never know if the next one will burn a house or two, or consume the whole city of Chicago!” Mother exclaimed.
“You’re right,” Father said. The dry climate right now doesn’t help any.” Alice sighed. Was that ALL people could talk or think about?
“Well, they won’t catch me think about burning buildings and devastating fires,” she mumbled.
“What did you say, dear?” Mother asked.
Later, Alice got ready for bed. She slipped on her nightgown and combed her hair.
“Good night, Mother,” Alice said, kissing her mother’s soft cheek.
“Good night, darling,”she said, returning the kiss. “Did you feed Patches?”
“Oh, I forgot! I’ll do it now.” She ran down the hall and into the living room. She swung open the kitchen door.
“Patches? Patches! Oh, there you are,” she said, bending down. In front of her was a large dog. It had white, and black, and brown, in bits in pieces all over, like a patchwork quilt.
“I’m sorry! I forgot to give you your food.” she rubbed the dog’s head. After she had fed him, she went to her room and jumped in her soft bed. She pulled up the soft blanket and was soon fast asleep.
Clang! Clang! The fire sirens sounded. The engines roared. The glowing light of a deadly fire hung over the city. Blood curling screams. The loud crackle of the scorching flames.
“Alice, you’re on fire!” That did it. Alice gasped and sat up. She opened her tired eyes. No sirens, no engines, no light, no blood curling screams. And NO fire. She breathed a sigh of relief. Her heart still pounded in her chest. It was eight forty-five.
“Time to get up,” She sighed. “I feel like I didn’t get a wink of sleep.” She forced herself to get out of the warm bed and over to the window. She let out a big yawn as she opened the curtains. But something looked strange. It didn’t look right. Not right at all. The sun was up and shining. But there was another strange light hanging over the city. A flickering light. It was at that moment that Alice Baker realized what lie ahead.
“MOTHER! FATHER!” Alice yelled, frantically. She ran down the hall and into her parents bedroom.
“Alice, what’s wrong?” Father asked, sitting up quickly.
“There was sirens and the engines and the screams and the crackle and the fire, but I only thought it was a dream, because it was, and then it wasn’t a dream, it was really real and-”
“Alice, Slow down!” Mother cried. “Now start slowly from the beginning.”
“There’s no time! We have to go!” Alice exclaimed.
“Go? Where? Alice, you’re talking crazy!”Father said.
“No! It’s a fire!” Alice raced out of the room.
“She’s joking!” Mother jumped out of bed and ran to the hall window. “Joseph, look! She’s right! It’s a fire!” Mother yelled, running into James’ room. Father leaped out of bed and over to the window.
“From the way it looks, it’s only a few blocks away. Alice, grab some blankets. James, get Patches. Hurry! he cried. The next few minutes were all a blur. The family rushed around getting dressed, getting food, blankets, and necessities. In ten minutes, the Bakers took their bundles and headed out the door. Once outside, they realized how serious things really were. Carts and wagons and horses raced by. People with a few belongings ran down the streets, trying to make their way to safety.