Chapter 31:

I Play Firefighter

Fighting For My Freedom In Another World

How long could someone survive being trapped in a burning building?Bookmark here

I wasn’t an expert on the topic, but my personal guess? Not very long. Maybe a few minutes?Bookmark here

So I didn’t know how long that girl the woman told me about had been in the building I was now running towards, but trying to hurry up seemed like a wise decision. Bookmark here

Who knew how long had already passed before I heard about it? It could even already be too late, though I’d… rather avoid thinking about that option. I wanted to believe there had to be something I could do. Something good I could accomplish after how catastrophically I already had failed. Bookmark here

And that was what had led me here. Bookmark here

The building, a small mansion two floors tall, fortunately hadn’t been very far away. Running the whole distance over to it as fast as I could only took about a minute. Bookmark here

There could still be hope. No, there was still hope. I wanted to make myself believe there was hope left to be had somewhere, and this was the only thing I had. Bookmark here

Now for the real issue. Bookmark here

Was I actually fireproof? Bookmark here

If possible I would have liked to test that hypothesis in a controlled, easily repeatable, and one hundred percent safe environment. One where me being wrong wouldn’t also result in my immediate and rather painful death. Bookmark here

I was right in front of the building. Standing at the bottom of a short set of stairs leading up to a magnificent wooden doorway… Or at least what would have been a magnificent wooden doorway, if the fire hadn’t already gotten to it. Bookmark here

The first floor seemed to be the most affected. From what I could see through the non-existent door and the windows almost the whole thing was covered with fire. The second floor looked to be slightly better off, or at least I could actually see the silhouettes of stuff that wasn’t fire through the windows. Bookmark here

In fact, somewhere near the back of the room… I couldn’t quite make it out clearly, but I thought I saw the shadow of a person. The shadow of a moving person, in fact. Bookmark here

That at least cleared up one thing. That girl that had been trapped in the building? She was still alive. Bookmark here

Good thing to at least know there was a chance I’d be rewarded for doing something absurdly stupid. Bookmark here

There wasn’t any more time for hesitation. Bookmark here

I rushed straight into the building. Right into the fire that still was raging inside. Bookmark here

I braced myself. I expected it to hurt. To burn. To sting. Bookmark here

Instead I flinched when it didn’t. Bookmark here

I could stand right in the middle of the hottest fire, and not even feel a thing. No heat, no anything. I was actually 100% fireproof. Imagine what any firefighter wouldn’t have given for that ability. Bookmark here

But I wasn’t a firefighter, and this wasn’t the time for standing still and being amazed. Bookmark here

I needed to get moving. Maybe I could take the heat, but the person I was trying to save probably couldn’t. Bookmark here

And sure, maybe I was immune to the fire itself, and to the heat. Still, things weren’t all peachy. Bookmark here

I was immune to the fire. I didn’t need to wonder about that. But I almost immediately realised I’d be facing a completely different problem instead. Bookmark here

Smoke. Bookmark here

And a lot of it. Bookmark here

I’d need to be quick if I didn’t want this to become dangerous to myself too. I was maybe immune to fire, but breathing in smoke was… Still not exactly to be recommended. Even worse, I could barely see anything. Bookmark here

I had to get low and crawl along the floor to actually have a shot at making out where I was going. All the smoke covered my entire field of vision if I tried to stand up.Bookmark here

But if I just kept crawling along, I’d be way too slow to actually rescue anyone. Bookmark here

What I needed here was something inbetween. Bookmark here

I bent down and took a good look around. Memorised what I could see, closed my eyes, and stood up. Bookmark here

Then I made my way towards the stairs up to the second floor relying on touch and my memories of what the place looked like. There was hardly anything in the way of furniture to get in my way as I traversed the ground floor towards the stairs to the next one. Perhaps most of it had been consumed by the flames already. Bookmark here

I almost stumbled over something small on the floor. What if I used my magic to burn anything that got in my way so I could move faster… No, I couldn’t do that. Using my magic had already caused too much damage. If I was going to do this, I was going to do it without using any magic or not at all. Bookmark here

It wasn’t like this was the kind of situation where setting things on fire would help much anyway. Almost everything around me was already on fire. Bookmark here

Being exposed to so much smoke… Was probably not a good thing. I found myself coughing by the time I managed to reach the stairs. Needed to finish this up fast. Get out. Bookmark here

But I couldn’t leave yet. I didn’t have what I came for. Bookmark here

Some of the smoke had reached the first floor, but the fire itself had only managed to get about three fourths of the way up the stairs that led up to it.Bookmark here

That made it much easier to make out the lonely and scared little girl sitting in a corner and sobbing on the upper floor. She couldn’t have been older than ten, and was wearing a simple dress. I couldn’t make out more than that through the smoke, but I could at least see where she was. Bookmark here

I went over to the girl and picked her up. She froze up, but there wasn’t any time to explain. I needed to get us out of there. Bookmark here

Lifting her made it clear the girl was fairly light. Good, considering I’d have to carry her out. Bookmark here

My eyes stung as I walked down the stairs. I wanted to close them, but I also wasn’t confident I wouldn’t end up falling down the stairs if I did. Perhaps I would survive it, but things wouldn’t end well for the girl I was carrying if I dropped her. Every inch of the floor below was covered with fire. Bookmark here

The additional load slowed me down. Made the trip back out take longer than the way there. Bookmark here

Still, I eventually reached the ground floor again. The door was just a few meters away. Just… Just a little more. Bookmark here

My eyes were burning. My nose was running. I held back an urge to start coughing violently. Bookmark here

Just a few steps. Just a few steps. Just a few steps… I tripped over something again and almost fell over. I managed to hold the girl above the fire while I regained my balance. Bookmark here

Just a few steps more...Bookmark here

...And then I was out. I was finally able to breathe properly again. I hadn’t even realised I had trouble breathing before that. Bookmark here

I wanted to stop and rest. Enjoy having my face not forcefully be filled with smoke at all times. Bookmark here

But for now we needed to get away. The area surrounding the house was covered by grass… Would the fire spread across it? Bookmark here

What if I used my magic to burn a circle of grass close to the house, and took away the fire’s fuel before it could get there? Bookmark here

No.Bookmark here

No magic. Bookmark here

This fire would be dealt with by natural means. Someone else would handle it. There had to be someone else that could do something. I had done what I could, the one mission only I could do. It was fine to leave the rest to other people. Bookmark here

Who were those hypothetical “other people”? And what was it exactly I thought they would be able to do? Did this world have some type of magic that would be good for putting out fires? And if it did, would I really be lucky enough that someone among the townspeople would have that? Bookmark here

I couldn’t answer any of those questions. Bookmark here

But I chose to ignore them. Bookmark here

Chose to ignore them, ignorant to the fact that me walking away from responsibility probably in itself was more selfish than any mistake I had made. More selfish than any of the choices that had led up to them. Bookmark here

But at that moment, I didn’t care. Bookmark here

I had saved a young girl who almost certainly would have died without my intervention. Bookmark here

That was good enough. Bookmark here

It was something I could feel good about, ignoring the deeper issues that still needed fixing. Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.