What day of the week is it?? Wednesday, you say…well, then it’s time for some flash fiction. Yipee!!
You probably remember the rules, but if this is your first visit, I will give a quick review. The story has to be between 500 and 1000 words, and it must be based on a writing prompt. Then, at the bottom, I share the links of the other flashers so you can visit them and read more free, entertaining stories.
All good, right?
Ready for the story (it’s a standalone so you get to enjoy it all in one read)…
Burning Down the House
Senior Patrolman Aidan Murphy stared at his reflection. Brass polished. Uniform neat and crisply pressed. Boots shined. All he wanted was a quiet and routine Friday night, his last night patrolling the streets. On Monday, he would don a suit and tie and begin his new position as Property Crimes Detective.
“Babe, hurry up! I’ve got your dinner packed. You need to go, or you’ll be late.”
Aidan grinned. His boyfriend had him so spoiled. Chas was his personal clock, always making sure he was on time. He buckled his gun belt, slid the portable radio into its holder, and headed down the hallway.
“Thanks, darling! You rock, as usual.” Aidan leaned down and pressed a quick kiss to Chas’s lips. He picked up the cooler and turned toward the door.
“Hang on, Officer Murphy…you call that a kiss?” Chas grabbed his arm and pulled him close for another kiss. He skillfully avoided Aidan’s gun and brass. Didn’t need any fingerprints marring its shine.
Breaking away from Chas’s delicious mouth, Aidan breathed, “That work better for you?” He stepped back and eyed Chas. “Don’t bother waiting up. It’s probably going to be a busy night. With any luck, I’ll be home just after midnight.”
“You know I don’t sleep well when you’re not here.” Chas brushed a piece of lint from Aidan’s shirt. “Just please be careful. Come home to me in one piece—no extra holes!”
That was Chas’s parting joke. He worried about Aidan, and the dangerous job he tackled each time he put on the uniform and got into his patrol car.
“Will do. Love you, Chas.” Aidan pressed a quick kiss to Chas’s forehead before heading out to his car.
Here we go…so much for quiet. Aidan flipped on his emergency lights and siren after letting the dispatcher know he’d be responding to the Shots Fired call. Given he was less than a mile away, he’d likely be the first car on the scene.
The pop-pop-pop of shots echoed through the otherwise still night. Aidan parked his car on the street, a house down from where the shots originated. After notifying the other responding units, he drew his gun and made his way to the house, using trees and shrubs as concealment. Keep your head down, man.
Before he made it to the front door, fire erupted, licking up the sides of the house. His breathing sped up as panic threatened to overtake his body. Aidan had responded to the house previously when the owner’s cars had been broken into. That time he not only met the complainant—the father—but he met his wife and three children, the youngest of whom was only weeks old.
Fuck. Me. Aidan requested fire and rescue to respond, and weighed his options. He’d just decided to enter the residence when another unit pulled on the scene. The fire had now fully engulfed the second floor of the substantial A-frame house.
“Get your ass up here!” he shouted to his back-up. “There are kids in the house!”
Chas lay in bed, distracted and browsing books on his Kindle. It was just after eleven, and he couldn’t relax enough to fall asleep. For some reason, a sour feeling bloomed and grew in the pit of his stomach. He kept glancing at the clock, but time wouldn’t speed up. He’d texted Aidan a half hour ago, but hadn’t received a response. Tonight, more than any other night, he’d be happy to receive a reply, and relieved when Aidan walked through the door unharmed.
Midnight came and went. One o’clock was fast approaching when he heard the downstairs door open and close. Thank God.
Aidan shuffled into their bedroom, looking like he carried an invisible load of bricks on his back.
“Babe, what’s wrong?” Chas flew out of bed and ran to his boyfriend, belatedly noticing the white gauze that covered Aidan’s left arm from wrist to elbow.
Before Aidan could respond, Chas fired off additional questions. “What happened to your arm? Why do you smell like a campfire? Why are you late getting home?”
His heart broke when Aidan finally met his eyes. Aidan’s normally bright sky blue eyes were now a dull blue and filled with tears. Without warning, Aidan’s legs gave out, and he crumpled to the floor. The dam broke and tears streamed from his eyes, great sobs heaving from someplace inside him.
“Aidan, babe, what’s wrong? What can I do?” Chas wrapped his boyfriend in a warm embrace. He rocked them both together, wishing he was a mind reader, wishing he knew exactly what Aidan needed in that moment.
After several long minutes, Aidan’s sobs quieted. He hesitantly began. “I responded to a call for shots fired, and then when I got there, the house was on fire.”
Chas digested that little bit. He made sure to keep his voice steady, “Did you go into the house? Is your arm burned?”
A sob escaped Aidan, and his body shuddered. “I did go in.” His voice shook, and tears once again flowed from his eyes. “I had…I tried to find the baby…it was too late.” He buried his head against Chas’s chest before mumbling, “The paramedics…they said…too much smoke for his little lungs.”
Dear God! “Oh, Aidan. I’m so very sorry.” Chas squeezed him even harder, despite the vest and gun belt. A tear slipped from his own eye. He couldn’t begin to imagine the despair Aidan felt.
They sat there—Chas couldn’t be sure for how long—when Aidan asked, “Would you help me undress and get into the shower? I’m tired of the smell. It’s turning my stomach.”
“Absolutely. Don’t worry about a thing. We’ll wrap your arm and I’ll wash you and tuck you into bed. Then, I’m going to hold you all night long.”
A small smile tried to force its way onto Aidan’s lips. “Thanks, darling. I love you. So very much.”
Be sure to check out stories from these other flashers: