We had a fire drill at school today.
We sit, cool and calm in class. Then –
BeeeeDoooBeeeeDooooo….. Filing out…Counting everyone…“Stop talking!” … Lining up….Waiting….“Is it real?”….“It’s never real,” …. “Right, thank you everyone for coming out so sensibly. We have to practice this from time to time so that….” Filing back in…. back to class.
Fire drills always get us talking: What would happen in a real fire? What if the fire was in the corridor right outside the classroom? Would we have to jump out the windows? Mr Reed, if you did an experiment with us and it went wrong and you burnt down the school would you get fired?
We have lots of questions, but also stories.
Stories of fire.
This is mine:
It was night time. I was at my home with my friend, Alfie, watching our favourite programme – Twin Peaks. At the time, I lived in the centre of Madrid, right near all the big gray offices and tall, modern business buildings.
The phone rang. “Are you watching it? Have you seen it?” It was my friend Fernando and he sounded alarmed.
We switched the TV over and our jaws dropped. On the news, a huge, 30-storey office building engulfed in flames… The building at the end of my street!
We walked to the end of the road. Police had cordoned off the area, so we had to stand at some distance. It was midnight now, and we were joined by about a hundred other people wearing a strange mix clothes – locals in comfy nightwear, passers-by in smart evening dress.
People stood mesmerised. We had been informed that the building was empty, that no one was hurt, and that made it easier, fun even, to watch the billowing flames progressing slowy down the tower, and the dense smoke pouring, first up, and then across the night sky. Even at three hundred metres we could feel the heat on our skin. A low rumbling hissing reached us, interrupted by sudden pops and cracks as metal and glass melted and burst.
This High Temple of Finance was many million times my size – a god-like scale to humans of any time in the past. But it had become commonplace, uninteresting, unremarkable on my daily walks past it.
And now, tonight, it was alive. It had become the bone and flesh of a furious, elemental giant, newly awoken. A beast older, more powerful, unconcerned with the petty worries of humankind. It turned intensely in the darkness, and we were its captivated followers.
We stayed for an hour or so and headed back home to sleep. The fire died.
The building has now been rebuilt. But for one night, the beast had been alive.
We file back in settle into the classroom and sit in our sit, our movements cooler, calmer.
We must get on , carry on with our lesson. But a spark has ignited our minds and we want to tell stories.
Stories that we all share.
Stories of Fire.