Fire runs screaming down the hillside like an insane deity, crackling in a forgotten tongue and making believers.
Fear is catching; animals running from death. Cars blaze by, people clutching steering wheels, deer-in-the-headlights-stares lamenting pets. There was no time.
Near the mountain prisoners dig a perimeter, pretending the roaring all around can’t harm them. Fire is searing light waiting for sacrifice.
Propane tanks are flying in the sky, do-it-yourself missiles launched from backyard silos.
Beetle-blighted pines ignite, squealing sap boiling before the explosion. Smoky air and ashes trying to be everywhere, falling like dirty snowflakes.
Red lights gleam in the darkness. Ambulances sing warnings, parading down streets, offerings in their wombs fragile as porcelain.
At the gas station vehicles cram together like bumper cars, people shouting at people who can’t change a single thing.
Cell phones in hand; everyone’s uploading their video: we are safe.
All over the country, people watch the nightmare that isn’t happening to them.
Here, fires happen every year.
Children sob for toys lost; parents worry about what comes after this.
The cots are all six feet apart at the shelters. Please wear a mask the signs say, but not everyone will. Truth is point of view; beliefs are arbitrary.
Fire is truth. Everything here will burn.
Josh Price lives in Northern California with his wife and dogs. He has forthcoming flash with The Los Angeles Review; South Florida Poetry Journal, The Daily Drunk, 365 Tomorrows and F3LL Magazine have published his flash fiction and CNF. You can visit him at josh-price.com, on Twitter and Instagram @timepinto, and www.facebook.com/sjprice1213/.