Trapped in 1867
Chapter 9: Fire
Gauri and Ben celebrate Dominion Day at Parliament Hill, however late that night as the celebrations continue, a fiery explosion shakes the McGregor house.
To do list:
1. Stop 2. Drop 3. Roll
July 2nd, 1867 Middle of the Night
The heat from the flames is now creeping into the attic. The floor is hot.
I run to the window to see what is happening only to be thrown back by another explosion. The glass shatters and sprays my face with tiny shards.
“Help!” I scream, blasting my vocal chords as loud as I can. My head spins. “Help!” I shout again.
I check the door to the stairwell, only to find the handle is red-hot. Smoke pushes out from around the frame.
“Gauri!” a voice calls out to me. I know it’s Ben—he must still be in the other room. I scramble around looking for something to cover myself with in the hopes of blocking the flames from burning me when I step out into the hallway. I figure if I can get to him, we can navigate down the stairs and get out of the house before it burns down.
“Gauri, get out of there!” Ben’s voice is farther away now. Where is he? Has he left me? “I’m trapped!” I shout back. I kick the door, thinking I might be able to bust it down and race through the fire, but then I remember it would just make the fire worse. Right? Too much oxygen would feed it—I think.
Oh, I don’t know. I’m losing my mind.
It’s hard to breathe now too. I cough a few times and cover my face with the pillow from the bed.
The door blackens as flames slice through the old wood on the other side. I have no choice but to escape through the window, but I’m about twenty feet up—maybe more.
I hustle over and look outside, stepping on the shattered glass along the floor. There are more flashes of light below me—the growing blaze creeps up the exterior panels toward the window. Faint screams echo into the night, drowned out every now and then from the fireworks on the other side of the hill.
“Help me!” I shout again. My throat tightens—beads of sweat trickle down my forehead and into my eyes.
Is this really happening? Am I going to die here, trapped in 1867? “Gauri!” Ben screams out again. I’m tempted to jump, figuring I might break a leg or two, but at least I would be alive.
“How do I get down?” I reply, trying to lean out the scorched window frame.
“I’ll catch you,” Ben replies. “Just get out of there. Trust me, I’ll catch you.”
My heart pounds through my chest, pushing the blood around my body. I clench my fists and swallow, feeling the adrenaline kick in. It’s now or never, I need to get out of here. There is no way I came all the way back to 1867 to have the most incredible day of my life be suddenly taken away from me because of some stupid fire.
“Okay!” I say, hoping he can hear me through the crackling inferno and splintering wood. “I’ll jump. I’ll jump. Can you hear me Ben?” “I can hear you,” he replies. “Will you catch me?” I holler back. “I’ll try,” he says. “You’ll try?” I feel my insides turn upside down. “Whaddya mean you’ll try? You need to catch me no matter what. There’s no trying here. You need to be one hundred percent sure you’re gonna catch me.”
I take a deep breath and close my eyes for a second. I wait. And wait. “I’ll try,” Ben says again. I can’t believe it. This kid just doesn’t get it. My life is in his hands, and all he can say is, ‘I’ll try.’
I step back, and collect my thoughts. There’s gotta be another way. And that’s when I see it. The rug. The rug with the pattern of a bird on it.
The Odawa girl’s face appears in my mind. Her words, softly whisper to me. Pin-di-gayo.
Why am I hearing her words again?
I look at the bracelet on my hand. The symbol is the exact same—the birds are identical. I don’t understand, but for some reason I feel a pull toward the rug on the floor. Pin-di-gayo. I move it aside and find a frame of wood panels fastened to some hinges and a small loop-like-handle. I reach down and pull on it, and discover a narrow flight of stairs. Pin-di-gayo. Confused, scared, and delirious, I shuffle down the tiny steps and burst through an opening in the side of the house. I’m free. I’m alive. Before I can catch my breath someone’s arms wistfully wrap around me.
I catch my breath—the heat from the fire still fiercely intense.
“Are you okay?” Ben asks, finally letting go of me.
“Yeah, I’m good.” I smile at him, and adjust the bracelet on my wrist.
“What happened? I thought you were gonna jump?”
Mrs. McGregor races around the other side of the house. She hustles over and hugs me as well. “Are you alright deary?” She brushes the hair out of my face.
I nod and step back into the garden. Neighbours from across the path scurry over to help, but there is nothing anyone can do. The house is completely engulfed. It will only be a matter of minutes before it crumbles to the ground.
Ben taps me on the shoulder again as the roof caves in behind us—his face glows in the orange light. “How did you get out of there?”
I look at the design on my bracelet again and shrug. “That Odawa girl saved my life.”
To be continued Wednesday. Next Time: Home