FIRE DEPARTMENT • by Cameron Vanderwerf

Following a series of bone-deep budget cuts, the fire department was severely underfunded, so much so that the firefighters couldn’t afford to maintain basic equipment. Rather than extinguish the flames as usual, the firefighters’ only option was to gather up the fire, bring it to the station, and store it somewhere in the back. After only a few weeks, they were running out of places to put fires. They’d stuffed them into closets and file cabinets and even under their beds. It made for a rather tense and uncomfortable working environment.

Before long, there was so much fire in the station that they had to lock the place up for good and abandon it. Later, after a ruinous couple months without a fire department, the town found the money for a new station and new equipment. The old station remained abandoned and, eventually, it was forgotten.

Until one day, when some unwitting trespasser broke in. Maybe it was a teenage vandal or a rookie reporter or someone looking for shelter. Regardless, as soon as some hapless individual opened a door or a window, all of the fire began to rush out. And after years of not being fed, it was hungry. It ran through the streets, spreading and expanding and ravenously consuming everything it touched.

Cameron Vanderwerf is currently pursuing an MFA in creative writing at Hollins University. His past work has appeared in Page and Spine, Literally Stories, Pilcrow and Dagger, Fiction on the Web, and other publications.

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