The fire was bright. It ate into the wood, slowly like a termite. Secrat backed away from it. No other way out of the house. No back doors. No other windows. What was engulfed by the flame is what was there. The warmth of it was adamant. It reminded Secrat of her breath on his.
He backed away from it, the back of him bumping into the wooden table.
This is how it would end for Secrat Copé, so it seemed. That was that, and at least he would leave in a blaze of glory. That was something he couldn't accept, but for the life of him, he couldn't think of how to remedy the situation.
But he was Secrat Copé, master thief, and one of the brightest The Red Flux ever had to offer! That didn't really matter though. Not in this situation. Accolades wouldn't extinguish the flame. Neither would anything else. Copé kept himself backed away from the flame for a time. The wheels in his head weren't turning fast, but some ideas reared their head. By now, the fire had completely engulfed the front-side of the small one-room shack.
He walked himself toward the bed. The blankets not yet scathed by the harsh, cogitating flame. Yanking them off, the thief readied his next move. Wrapping himself around the covers like a caterpillar might wrap itself in a cocoon, Secrat pulled the blankets up enough over his body to give his legs reasonable mobility. Once assured, he backed away further from the flame. Enough space for momentum. The door was hard-wood and Secrat was not large. He'd need all of the momentum and vivacity he could have. The table was in the way. He used his foot to kick at it, shoving it off to the side and offering a clear path to the door.
Until he was at the other side. He looked back the flame. It had spread some. He knew that the time for action was upon him. Hopefully the fire had dug enough at the door to assist his escape, and thereby, his survival.
The heat of the flame drew sweat from his brow, that and his heart-racing faster than a horse. By the time he touched the opposite wall, he allotted himself no time to think or contemplate. The thief ran to the other-side with all of his might and charged against the door. A loud banging noise came out of it. But the door didn't knock off of its hinges or break. Instead, Secrat felt the severity of flame attempt to swallow him whole. Like a cat in water, a thief in fire, he jumped away from the blaze as fast as he could. Shedding the blankets off of him. They fell to the floor. Only spreading the fire more and more.
Secrat dropped to his knees. For a second. Just a second. He didn't even really have a second for anguish. But he took it.
The fire had burned some of the hair off his arms and the smoke was starting to encumber the room. Copé looked to the wooden table. Another idea.
A shot in the dark. Grasping at straws. The only thing he had.
He jumped up to his feet and tried to lift the table. It was heavy. He was not strong. Not physically at least. He kicked at the legs. Until prying one free at once. The table dropped at an angle. His intentions were neither brilliant nor profound. Desperate. That was more fitting a word. Throwing legs at the door until it would break. The window wasn't really big enough of an opening to make a quick escape, and with fire all over that side of the room, a quick escape is what he needed.
A step forward with one of the legs in hand, a creaking sound is what Copé heard next.
He looked down. The loose wooden plank where he found his flask. That was enough dangling of hope to make at least some type of cogitation happen. The table leg fell out of his hands and to the floor, making a knocking sound as it hit the ground. Down to his knees slowly, the thief dislodged the wooden plank from the flooring and took sight of the sand. He smiled a little bit, then let out a cough as the smoke penetrated his lips and entered his lungs.
The other planks of wood weren't like that. They weren't loose. He pulled at them, but they wouldn't come free. That made him nervous, but he let out a breath, albeit polluted with smoke and reached for one of his knives. The handle in his hands, he drove the sharp-blade into one of the creases between each wooden plank and scraped at it. He wiggled the blade in between it, trying to loosen it. But none of it seemed to be working.
The knife went down on the floor beside him, and in its place, Copé picked up the wooden leg. The leg was heavy. Not too heavy. But heavy. He stamped it down as hard as he could over one of the wooden planks. One of planks adjacent to the one already dislodged. The noise was loud. The sound of wood cracking. It wasn't broken yet. A second stomp did get it a little closer to that. The wood was dented in. A third hit broke it in half.
The way it broke caused a small shard of timber to scrape into his arm. Something which Secrat didn't notice. The adrenaline was setting in and making him feel almost invincible. He wasn't. In-fact, far from it. The fire raged on, yearning to express him that fact. With two planks removed from the floor, he was almost able to fit himself into the hole. Both legs. The waist was a problem though. He didn't try to force it. In fear he might become stuck.
Copé took the leg once more in his hands. The fire was nearing. Much nearer now than before. Close. The smoke damn-near intoxicating. He could feel it becoming more and more difficult to breathe. Gagging. Choking on the air around him. It was a matter of time before he would lose consciousness. A matter of time before he'd be burned to ashes. He took the leg and looked at another wooden plank. Not even trying to unhinge it with his knife, he stomped the leg repeatedly over it, as fast he could, and then, much faster than the other one, it gave way. Snapping like a stick beneath the foot of a giant. Secrat didn't waste any time after that.
The hole in the floor offered enough room for him to make his escape. He dropped off into the sand. His back slapping against it. For him, at that time, at that moment, it might as well have been a nice fluffy cloud or bed. It was comfort. It was life. He lifted the sand up into his fingers and let it fall out. His eyes lent themselves up above him. The smoky blackness obscured everything there was to see of the house.
He turned his head, and there was light in sight. Feet as well. He could see them. A gathering of people, all gathered up and watching on as he damn-near burned to his death. There was no sign of Christique. Not that he could recognize her by her feet, but he liked to assume. He rolled in the sand. The front-side of the building was where all the commotion was. Where everyone was all crowded about. He rolled out from under the house from the back-end.
He climbed to his feet. Part of him felt like gasping for air, but the other part of him managed to contain himself.
After dusting some of the sand off from his arms, he noticed how black they were from the soot. He tried to dust it off with his hands as well, but it was to no avail. While touching at his arm, however, he did notice the large gash of blood spurting out of him. That was the cut made from when he smashed the first plank, he realized. The pain was starting to show itself, but it wasn't throbbing or unbearable. Copé thumbed at it for a second, but it made the pain worse, so he relented. There was a large splinter of wood still into his arm. That was something he knew he'd feel later, but it wasn't something his body would let him feel now.
He walked about and cornered the house, exposing himself to the crowd of people. His eyes didn't catch anyone looking at him. They might have been but that didn't bother him. His body looked blacker than that of a man from Jalint, but he didn't care. Not like he had anything to hide.
Over by the front of the house, the crowd all beheld the building being scorched and burned to a crisp. Copé shared in their amusement. In the end, he walked in-front of the crowd. Not pushing or shoving but venturing closer than any of them were willing to go.
He brought a cigarette out from his pocket, feeling it between his fingers.
He walked up the steps leading to her front-door and looked down at one of the pine sticks on the deck. One that had been stolen from him by Christique. One of them was used and useless, but another beside it was completely unscathed. He picked it up and looked at the flame. He reached his hand slightly out the window. Putting the stick into the fire. It lit itself after some time. Thankfully not burning itself or Secrat's hand to a crisp.
With the pine stick in-hand, he lit his cigarette and threw the stick into the house through the window.
He put the cigarette between his lips.
He never liked the taste. But it distracted him.
The Red Flux & the Wunderkind THief
Chapter One (1 - 2 - 3)