So, this is it. The second last part chapter of Fintan's story. So many questions...Will he go with Sal? Will Arianna ever notice him? Mystery! Intrigue! Fire! Awesomeness! So, yeah, I hope you enjoy it! To see Discovery click here. To see Pressure click here.
Biology passed slowly, the seconds ticking by like minutes and the minutes ticking by like hours. Mrs Dylan droned on and on, her voice monotone as she described the effects of glucose on sugar, or something like that. Fintan wasn’t really listening. He stared into space, savouring each moment of his meeting with Arianna. The soft rose of her cheeks, the wisps of hair curving round her jawbone and those eyes, those gorgeous, wonderful eyes, deep and soft and blue...
The bell rang in the corridor and Fintan pushed his jotter and textbook in his bag. Shoving his tiny pencil in his pocket, he walked out the class and down the stairs. People were pushing and jostling beside him, moving him from one side to another in a wave-like motion. He stumbled onto the ground floor and moved his bag strap further up his shoulder. He got to the end of the corridor and paused. Maths was left - the front gates were right. Fintan bit his lip. Sal would kill him if he didn’t meet up with him, and maths was boring. But then again, they were doing stuff in maths...Fintan shook his head inwardly. Who was he kidding? The choice was obvious. Right.
Fintan slipped past the crowd of pupils and pushed open the fire exit door in front of him. A breeze of frigid air hit him and he sucked in his breath. He hunched his shoulders and stepped out onto the cold, hard, gum-littered concrete. He shut the door behind him and walked forward. He wanted to make fire, but he was still too close to the school. He could feel student’s eyes on his back, staring at him with mild amusement. Another boy cutting class, they would think, Nothing strange. If he wants to be suspended, so be it.
Fintan glanced up and saw the front gates. They were tall and black. They were horrible. Personally, Fintan thought they made the school look like a maximum security prison - making the students and pupils the prisoners on Death Row. Fintan squinted against the freezing wind and made out the blurry figure of Sal standing at them, his hands in his front pockets.
Fintan ran towards him and patted Sal in the shoulder. “Hey buddy,” he said, smiling. “How was drama?”
Sal snorted. “Boring. Now come on. The place we’re going is round the back of the school.” He turned and marched forwards, heading towards the crowded car park.
Fintan hurried after him. “What, the ‘woods’?”
Sal nodded. “The old shack in the ‘woods’. And I wish you wouldn’t call it that. It’s not even a wood for crying out loud, just a bunch of old trees. It’s too wet to set any of them on fire but there’s some paper in the shack. Oh, stop looking so worried, Fin! It’s just a bit of fun!”
Fintan kept his mouth shut, and followed Sal, who as weaving through the lines of cars. This couldn’t be good. The shack was out of bounds for students, and so were the ‘woods’. The tiny clump of trees had been banned for years, ever since that boy accidentally got his leg broken by trapping it under a tree root. Fintan bit his lip and hopped onto the pavement. No, this was bad. Or, at least, it wasn’t good. But then, things to do with Sal were never good. What was he expecting? A picnic?
“Fin, what you doing? Pay attention, or you’ll fall.” Fintan looked up from the ground and was surprised to see that the concrete beneath him had morphed into a spongy layer of pine needles and moss. Sunlight dappled the trees above him and Fintan could just make out the shaded, dark wood of the shack ahead.
“Well, come on then! We’ve wasted half the period already, you know.”
Sal was standing beside him, his eyes wide and expectant. “Well?”
“Oh, yeah, sure. Let’s go.” Fintan jumped over a fallen log and pushed a branch out of his view. And there it was. The shack. It stood there as it always did, in its soaked, disgusting glory. Flutters of movement shimmied over its surface like an illusion, but Fintan knew better - they were beetles and bugs, maggots crawling out for the stinking interior and emerging into the crisp air to...feed? Fintan had no idea. All he knew was that it wasn’t exactly sanitary.
Sal walked towards it and fiddled with the door. There wasn’t a lock on it, but it was stiff and swollen with rain. Sal pushed and pulled until it creaked open. He turned round to look at Fintan. There was a smile on his face, stretched and chaotic, a grimace in any other world.
Fintan took a step forward and shuddered as a blast of wind flew past him. “I-I thought we were doing it out here.”
“Heck no! Come on, Fin! It’s just a bit of fun...”
Fintan paused and then started walking towards the shack. The grin on Sal’s face grew wider. “I knew you’d do it. Now come on!” He vanished into the dark, musty interior of the shack, his hand trailing behind him.
Fintan ducked his head and followed. He coughed, and with a shaky breath, looked up.
The shack was small and dusty. A single light bulb lit the room, wires winding over the ceiling. The shack was cluttered with old paper, sodden and rotting, metal bins full of petrol and alcohol, and broken bottles. Litter covered the floor like a carpet. Fintan glanced up and winced. A large spider scuttled over the wall, its spindly legs moving in unison over the dirt covered panels. A shiver rippled down Fintan’s spine and he turned towards Sal. “Can you hurry up? I hate this place.”
Sal was standing at the opposite end of the room, sifting through piles of animal droppings and rotten newspaper to find a dry piece of A4. “You are such a baby, Fin. It’s only a little dirt. Ah, here we are.” He yanked a bit of paper out from under a pile of beer bottles with a flourish. “Here.” He handed it to Fintan, who grabbed it gingerly by the corner. Sal stood back, his eyes alive with a mad curiosity - so mad, so manic, that for the first time Fintan felt a twinge of fear in the back of him mind.
“Well, go on then! Show us your stuff!”
Fintan looked at Sal’s face. This was not a good idea. It had never been a good idea. Why did he come here anyway? He would have been better off in maths, where it was warm and dry, and his friend wasn’t pressurising him to light a document of some sort. But then again Sal was his friend, and well, what harm could it be?
Fintan smiled and held the paper higher up. “Watch this.” He held his free hand underneath it, and in a fluid motion opened and closed it. A flame soared onto the paper. It caught immediately and Fintan dropped it, watching the flames lick the paper, sending dark brown lines along the edge of it. Sal stared at it, his eyes wide with wonder. His mouth moved but no words came out.
Fintan glanced at his friend for a moment. He looked...odd. As though he was on drugs, high on crack or something. His eyes seemed to bulge out of his skull, and his forehead was covered in a thin layer of sweat. The flame danced in his pupil, getting higher and higher, caressing the edge of one of the metal bins...
Fintan leapt forward and grabbed Sal by the arm. The petrol canister. The fire was at the metal bin, and it was climbing steadily towards the top, towards the hole in the lid of the barrel.“Move!” Sal sat perfectly still. “MOVE!” Fintan started to panic. He knew what happened when gas set on fire. It exploded - a lifetime of watching science shows had taught him that. He stole a glimpse at the flame. It rippled over the bin, tiny sparks flying out of it onto the cool, hard metal. Fintan turned back to Sal. His eyes were still glazed over and his breathing was slow. He was in a trance.
Fintan slipped an arm under Sal’s armpit and hauled him to his feet. He blinked twice and then settled back down into the useless potato he was. Fintan grunted and pulled him towards the door. With every step he got heavier, and Fintan was painfully aware that every second he spent trying to escape was another second that the flame had to climb higher. Heat began to build up in room, ash and smoke whirling around in the air.
Fintan pushed forward. He could feel sweat bead on his back and the door didn’t seem to be getting any closer. He turned around. The flame was licking the top of the canister now, seeping into the hole at the top. Panic flooded Fintan’s body. This was his fault, all his fault, why did he do this? Why did he listen to Sal, why was Sal even his friend, why did-
There was a pop and Fintan felt someone push him from behind. He flew out into open air and landed on a pile of leaves, still holding onto Sal’s arm. He coughed and spluttered. He felt as though every last drop of air had been squeezed from his lungs. He coughed again, and let go of Sal’s arm. He was vaguely aware of a sizzling sound coming from the shack, but that didn’t matter. He had to breathe. Fintan tried to concentrate on the movement of his lungs - up and won and up and down and up. His heart slowed in his chest, and he lay on the soft mossy ground, panting.
“What the hell where you doing?!”