Inferno, by W. P. Gerace
Daisy had lived in Phoenix, Arizona, for the past 15 years. Still, this summer has been the most heat she has ever experienced in her 45 years. She was not the only one saying it either. The forecasters would get on television daily. Their blank faces from delivering the same grim news seemed more dismal. A waitress by trade at Bob's Pub, the heat was so unbearable that business had dropped significantly. She used to make a decent three to four hundred a week, along with her disability pension. Since Bob had paid her under the table, she could survive. Lately, she was lucky to make fifty a week, and many days he closed early.
Early today, she had heard the scientists on television, two older men with white hair reminding her of Einstein humorously enough that the world's axis was slowing down. The end result was long days and more heat. There was no end in sight to this current situation. Daisy could not believe what she was seeing and hearing.
Additionally, people everywhere, not just in Phoenix, were going crazy. Rioting and violence exploded as throngs of people took to the streets rummaging through stores for food and supplies as the shelves slowly became bare. Many states were in severe droughts, with temperatures well into the hundreds across the country. Here in Phoenix, Daisy noticed her porch thermostat exploded all over the place, the mercury spilling all over her patio's surface, staining everything a deep blood-red tone. Today was well over one hundred thirty degrees. Her neighbors on both sides of her were nowhere to be seen. Just last year, this time, they would both be floating in their pools, their body's basking in the warm sun. Judging by the buckling of the black concrete parking lot and the melting of the metal hoods on the vehicles, no one dared venture out here. Even in the shade, she was getting a nasty burn. Daisy could not help but stare at the sun. It did not have its usual yellowish glow. In fact, it just appeared like a big old ball of fire that could burn anything.
Quickly getting back into her air-conditioned apartment was the only place she could find solace. Bob called nearly two hours ago in that melancholic tone once again, saying he was closing. Daisy wondered how she would manage and pay her bills and rent.
Sitting on her beige sofa, about to turn the television on, she heard a sudden thump as if something had collapsed on her roof. It shook the whole house. Her chair and body moved in response to the intense force. The fan in her kitchen collapsed to the floor. Gaping through the hole where her fan was were the glaring beams of red hues coming from the scarlet ball of fire in the sky. Its intense rays burned her skin like she was caught in some fire with nowhere to escape. Running to another area of the apartment, hoping to find shade, she noticed the temperature had suddenly increased.
Frantically running around her living room and quickly checking the grey thermostat, the red indicator light was blinking, indicating that the air conditioner had shut down. The steam from the sun's overbearing rays started to assent through the entire area. Quickly losing her breath, gasping for air as if she were breathing through a thin straw, she could feel a heaviness surrounding her cutting her off from life. Wheezing increasingly with each passing second, she was unsure how much more she could take all this. Sweat glazed her arms and legs, and her saturated white blouse felt glued to her flesh.
The only thing still working in the corner of her kitchen was her small black radio operating on batteries which she forgot about blasting a blaring sound through its speakers. A deep voice came through. She supposed it was a man, probably someone at the radio station. He warned everyone to seek shelter in Arizona, and the whole west coast is under a state of emergency. Many residents lost electricity and water, and supplies of water lines were bursting and drying up from the intense heat. The earth slowed more on its axis, meaning the days would be extended to 20 hours.
Trying to process this all as she had sat here in the only place she felt safe since this all started, suddenly she began to be lifted off the ground. Trying to grab her kitchen sink proved useless as if she had no weight or anything to hold her down. Slowly she was being sucked through the open hole where the red flares of the sun sizzled her skin. Yelling in pain, she could not take more of this. What in the world is going on? Was this the way life would end?
Bleeping in the distance, she heard an alarm. Bolting up, she found herself in the darkness of her apartment. There was electricity, her ac was on, lights were on, and she was in bed watching some sci-fi show on television about the end of days and the sun taking over.
"Oh, this was just a dream. Silly me. "Daisy laughed.
"Ouch." There was a red blister on her hand.
Was it a dream or not?
W.P. Gerace grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and moved to Phoenix Arizona back in 2013 with his partner Carlos and their fur baby Skittles. He currently works full-time for a major bank in the Quality Assurance Department from home. An avid fan of horror and science fiction since he was a young adult he loves to read horror stories. His favorite authors are Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Additionally, he is a fan of crime and police detective shows. His favorites are Forensic Files, NCIS, and Criminal Minds. He loves writing horror and science fiction.
4/27/2023 12:24:56 pm
Great story, Bill! I can't wait to read more of your work!
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