Her mother and father had matching
full dress BMW 750'S. Her mother and brother on one bike her father and her herself on the
other. She really enjoyed the trip but her butt sure didn't agree. Her three year younger
brother agreed with her thoughts a hundred percent.********************
Becky took her helmet off and handed it to her
dad as she began looking around. The place was wooded a bit different from the run of the
mill rest area. It was more of a little park. She started walking from the parking lot
towards the wood. She sensed it immediately. This place was familiar to her. It was almost
as if she could feel cellars beneath her feet where there had once been buildings. In her
mind she saw a small village of some sort there in the trees. The trees here were young
and not as they had been in her thoughts.
She tried to push away the feeling as
she stretched out her aching legs. She walked a path that went up a slight incline. She
couldn't see what was on the top so to her it was an adventure. Her brother was right
there beside her racing her to be the first to top the hill. She couldn't get rid of the
feeling of familiarity of the place. Like she had been there before. She knew she hadn't
as that was the main reason of the trip. Her mother and father had never been in this area
and had wanted to see it.
Becky and David topped the hill turning back
to wait for their parents. Becky noticed there was a really large sign a few feet further up the path and went to read it. "Tornado of Fire"
The young girl looked up from her studies
suddenly. She could hear the bell going off frantically at the church. What was that all
about she thought to herself. She could hear her father in the other room moving hurriedly
to get his shirt and coat on heading or the door.. As he opened the door she knew what it
was. A fire. She could smell it in the air. She closed her book quickly heading in the
same direction as her father.
"You two stay here", her mother ordered back at them. She grabbed her shawl and
headed out the door herself following in the same direction as her husband.
The young boy was obviously stung being left
behind. "We miss all the exciting things" he complained. His sister agreed with
him whole heartedly but decided it was best to follow her mothers directions. There was a
dance coming up Friday and she had her plans set on going. She knew that disobeying now
would ruin any chance she would have to get to dance with Joel.
"Well, lets go look out the window and
see if we can see it from here" she suggested to her younger sibling. He turned
quickly looking at her for a split second as he bolted across the room to the window. He
pulled over a chair and peered out the glass. There was definitely a lot of smoke in the
air it had to be close but he couldn't see anything from this window and wasn't too happy
about it. He jumped from the chair and ran up the ladder to the upstairs loft he and his
sister shared as their room.
"Hey slow down you'll fall and knock your
head and father won't be too happy about that." It didn't slow him down but she felt
it was worth a try as she headed up after him. Not as fast as him as the hem of her skirt
would get caught up and she would be the one knocking her head. And she knew from personal
experience it was a hard fall.
"Hurry up you gotta see this!" he
called back at her. She sped up her decent a bit and arriving at the window was shocked.
It looked like not only a barn was on fire but so was the house up the corner. People were
lined up frantically tossing water on the fire. They seemed not so much trying to save the
barn at this point as trying to save the house and the one setting so close next to it.
This was not good. The fire was too big. Sparks were flying every where as the loose hay
took to the air in the wind.
It had been a dry summer and the trees were starting to drop
their dried leaves on the ground. They too were joining in the burning flight. They
watched from their perch above all the action. She was a bit unhappy that she was stuck at the house with her brother when she could be out there helping. But in a way it was
helping. Zachary just sat quietly watching. She knew he wanted to be outside close to the fire. But that would be too much of a worry. At seven years of age he would get in the way more then help.
"Look there" Zachary called out excitedly. He pointed a some place she could not see.
"What? I don't see anything." she looked where she thought he was pointing a couple houses down from where the fire was.
"Over by the tree with the swing"
she looked closer. Surely it couldn't be. It was. There was a wee fire starting near the shed four places down from where everyone was working. No one seemed to see it. "I
have to tell them. I know they can't see it from there"
"But Pa said to stay here" he reminded her.
"I know but we have to let them know, That's Mr. Kelly's shed and he is painting his barn so there might be paint in there, and Old Grey. He put her in the shed because the barn smelled so bad" she added.***************
Rebekah hurried down the ladder nearly tripping on the hem of her dress. Dang fool dresses she thought.
Zachary started after her. "Oh no you don't. Father said for you to stay."
"He told you too stay too." he fought back
"I can get there much faster if you stay here. I will see if they will let us help while I am there and I will be right back."
She tried to make him understand. He was as hard headed as her sometimes so she understood
his desires and needs to do things.
"Please let me come Bekah, I can run fast" he pleaded.
"No! And I mean it Zachary." She got down to his eye level and tried to make him see she meant business and it was of great importance that he stay at the house. "You have to be lookout for more fires.. So we can let them know"
She quickly was putting on her bonnet to restrain her hair while she appealed to the importance of his job.
"Alright" he pouted. "But you will make sure to ask?"
"I will" she promised.
Rebekah hurried out the door. The force of the wind blew the door out of her hand and it slammed against the wall. She reached back and pulled it closed behind her. She broke into a run down the road to where the fire was. She seen her mother in the water line.
"Mother!" she called. Three of the women immediately turned their heads to see who the voice belonged to.
"Rebekah what are you doing here? I told you to stay at home and mind Zachary."
her mother shouted to her above the noise.
"There is another fire. Down the road at Mr. Kelly's shed". She alerted them not wasting time explaining her actions.
Mrs. Kelly broke line.
"Benjamin, Benjamin, the fire is at our place now!!. The shed!!" yelling out for her husband.
Mr. Kelly motioned back to a couple of the neighbors and they rushed off in the direction
of the newest outbreak of the fire.
Rebekah turned just as the barn let loose one large crash and came falling down in flames. Sparks ashes and debris flew everywhere. Within seconds there were several smaller fires breaking out.
"The James's house is on fire!" A voice cried out. Again the group of people fighting the fires split off.
"That's center of town!. Lord have mercy! Rebekah go into town and wake everyone that isn't awake and tell them to move out of the houses grab what they can and get to safety. It's getting to big to be controlled."
Rebekah ran back toward her house knocking frantically on the doors. "You have to get out the fire is too close" She ran on to the next. And the next. There were people running everywhere.
Everyone was running back toward where the fires had started into the wind. They were trying to get behind the fire up on the hill in the meadow. Rebekah kept knocking on doors trying to alert people.
The fire bell in the town hall was frantically ringing until the town hall too caught fire.
"Zachary, oh my sweet Jesus, I have to get to Zachary" she cried out. Rebekah broke into a all out run against the grain of the people back to her house. The fire was only two houses away from theirs now. She threw open the door.
"Zachary!" she called out. "Zacharrrrry" no answer no
reply. "Where are you?" she called out. "No time to mess with me... are you here." She thought as fast as she could. Where would he go? She thought to herself. Her mind was a jumble. She had to find him. Oh where in the world would he go?
It hit her. He went to the shed to get Old Grey. Old Grey was not just an old run down mule to him. She was a friend he would sneak off and feed apples to in the summer. That had to be it. She grabbed a rag from off the table as she ran out of the house. She covered her nose to the smoke as it was getting too thick to easily breath.
She continued down the street a couple houses towards the Kelly's. Her father was helping to direct people to hurry and not to worry about their belongings that their lives were more important.
"Rebekah, where is your brother? Where's Zachary?" He put his hands gently on
her shoulders in concern .
"I think he went down to save Old Grey" grabbed her hand and started towards the
Kelly's barn which was now also fully engulfed in flames.
"No, father Old Grey is in the
shed." she shouted to him pulling him back toward the direction of the shed. They quickly changed directions heading toward the shed.
"Come On Old Grey.. "Zach pleaded. "Come on the shed is going to burn down we have to get out of here." Old Grey could see the fire and was too scared to listen. She was frozen to her spot in fear. Zach pulled hard on her rope that he had attached to her bridle. She wouldn't budge.
"Come on you stubborn ole' mule. He reached up trying to shield her eyes from the brightness of the fire that was quickly making its way from the far end of the barn towards them. He was too short to reach.
"Come on Old Grey, we have to go now. You don't want to burn up do you? Come on you dumb ole' mule!!" Tears filled his eyes. He was getting scared now, not only for himself, but for his friend. Tears were burning his eyes as well as the smoke. He wiped at them with his sleeve. He coughed as she started to find
it harder to breath.
"Rebekah wait here I will go in and see if he is in there." Her father was already gone before she could even think to object and go along with him. She watched the flames as they licked over the back of the shed and engulfed the house they had just passed to get there. How would they get out now they needed
that path near the house to get out. First things first.
She could not stand it any longer and bringing up the cloth to her face once more she ran towards the shed. It was almost too dense to see through the smoke inside the barn as her father tried to pry his boy loose from the rein of the old mule. Rebekah thought quickly grabbing the hem of her dress she gave it a good yank at the seam and good section of cloth came off. She twirled it around and ran up to where her father and brother were. Her brother trying hard to argue with his father about the mule. She arrived just as her father was grabbing up his son into his arms. The young boy screamed in protest of having to leave his friend behind.
"Rebekah I told you to wait outside"
"I couldn't father, I tried." She went to the mule fastening the torn cloth around her eyes and the mule quickly relented and let her guide it out of the shed.
Once outside she hit it firmly on the buttocks sending it running for the woods. She was not so sure that was the right direction for the mule to take but at least her brother thought it was and that was the important part.
Suddenly a tree fell across the path of where Old Grey had just went. They moved as far as they could from the shed. Just as they heard a loud bang. She had been right about the storage of the paint in the shed. Flames and fire were everywhere as the explosion started to come back to the earth.
Her Father spied the old well a few yards away. Mr. Kelly had been just telling them that he was going to have to dig another one as this one was starting to dry up. There wasn't anywhere for them to go.
"Rebekah. I am going to lower you into the well to see how deep it is.?" She didn't care for the idea too much, but as they didn't seem to have very many options she did as he directed her. She grabbed on to the rope testing it slightly before he lowered her slowly into the well.. It was dark and very cool. The water was about waist deep. The bottom seemed pretty solid a she tested it with her feet.
"I'm down, the waters not to deep" she called back up to her Father.
"I'm sending your brother down." He pulled up the rope and then lowered her brother down. It was a bit deep for him up to his chin so she placed him balanced on her hip.
"Got him" she called back" Zachary was strangely quiet as she though maybe everything was sinking in with him.
"Watch out! I am coming down next"
Rebekah moved over as close to the side as she could. Her father came in beside her. He took Zachary from her. Zach was like a rag doll between them.
"It's going to be a long night kids and we will have to stay awake " father informed them. It was more of a reassurance from him towards Zachary though. Rebekah new already it would be a real long night. Not for just them but for everyone in town. While the shed was fully engulfed it was bright enough they could see each other pretty good.
"Do you think Ole' Grey will be okay Pa"
"I'm sure she will Zach." he replied. Rebekah hoped her mother was safe. She decided ti was probably not the best idea to bring that up right now and scare Zach more.
In the distance she thought she heard something sounded like the screaming of fear. But she wasn't sure because her father started humming aloud a song from Church. She thought she seen a tear in his eye as he
Becky read the sign it said everyone in the town had run to an open field away from the fires that had engulfed it. They thought they had run to safety but the winds changed direction encircling them with no escape and everyone burned to death. A very sad thing to have happened her mother said reading from over her shoulder. Over 200 people dead.
"We have to get back on the road kids" their dad called after them. David ran back down the hill ahead of Becky and his mom. Becky fell behind moved by the story of so many people dying. She again felt the feeling of the place beneath her feet familiar and strange. She couldn't shake the feeling that not everyone died as the sign had said. But she tried. Just before getting back to the bikes she noticed a sign on the other end of the park.
"Can I go read that sign first?" she asked
"No, we have to get on the road" her mother explained.
Becky willingly gave in, as if she had a choice in the matter.
They drove on down the road a ways and it started to drizzle. The entire way Becky couldn't shake the feeling "But I lived" she could feel something inside her saying. It kept going through her head as if they were her own words. Words said from experience. She had to go back and read the other sign.
"Dad can we please go back and read that sign on the way back please ?" She felt desperate. She had to go back and see. She knew she lived and didn't die with he rest. It was a strange way to think, she knew it, but couldn't help it.
Her father gave in. He always did, he loved her so much. Perhaps he could sense the urgency in her voice. He told her mother and brother to go on back to the hotel and they would meet them there.
Becky and her father pulled back in to the rest area. Becky didn't waste any time. She knew her father was placating her and being overly cooperative in this matter. Unusually so.
She went directly to where the other sign was and read it.
It stated that there were three survivors of the fire, a Man and his two children had lived. They all had jumped into the well and it saved their lives. They were the only survivors of the fire.
Becky's intuition had been right. She headed back to her father and the motorcycle.
She paused one last time to look around. The feeling was so over-whelming to her, but now she knew why. She had survived. This was her last glimpse of a place that had once been home.