That Tingling Feeling
by Jordan Altman
Jarred awake, confusion fluttered my mind as a seismic blast of unyielding sound pierced through my dreams and returned me to reality. The fire alarm rang out in its high pitch resonation, while reverberations rattled my teeth. I attempted to throw off the covers, but that tingling feeling of needles enveloped both of my arms this morning. They were like dead logs attached to my torso. Useless and weightless, they dangled to my waist as I tried to squirm my way out of bed. I’ve always had bad circulation, yet this morning was unprecedented. I forwent my shirt and pants as I made my way from the bedroom to the living room of my small apartment.
I twisted my body back and forth, trying to return the flow of blood to my limp arms as I walked to my tiny, lone window. The lights of the firetrucks eight stories below caused concern that this was no drill. Walking to the door, I caught a stream of rising smoke billowing up from the floor vent in the kitchen. The smoke was light grey, but I knew the old saying well enough. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
I tried for the door handle, but my arm didn’t raise, though my panic was more than happy to rise. Trying again and again, my arms ignored my pleas for escape. In my fear, I smashed against the door with my shoulder to no avail, while cursing every vile word I’d ever knew. I have to get out! Terror made random memories bloom within my imagination. Stories of childhood questions filled my head. What superpower would you want? What is better hotdogs or hamburgers? What’s the worst way to die?
A thick black plume replaced the light grey smoke as the smouldering fumes began to fill my apartment. I hacked up viscous phlegm while coughing uncontrollably. With the horror of suffocation, I kicked the door and screamed for help until I was dizzy. My useless arms began to really hurt as the feeling returned. Moving them slightly shot ribbons of pain that cascaded up my arm. I grimaced at the agony while rejoicing in the return of the sensation.
With my fists clenching and releasing, I tried to pump more blood through my veins. It was smoky in my apartment, but I also noticed the heat. I was sweating profusely when I bit hard on my lip and forced my hand to rise to the door knob. More pins and needles poked in me as I grasped the handle and turned my wrist. I have to get out!
The knob didn’t move as my palms were too sweaty. Frantically wiping my hand on my boxers, I cried and begged as I tried again. This time, my grip moved the handle, but the door didn’t budge. It was locked.
The smoke created a black storm cloud across the top two feet of my apartment, and my eyes felt like sandpaper was slowly being dragged across them. I fumbled the lock but managed to twist it, then I turned the knob. With a hard pull that almost knocked me off my feet, I heaved the door open and ran into the hallway.
My door shut behind me and automatically locked. As I gazed with horror, the hallway was a dance of orange, red, and yellow. I was surrounded by flames and could not return to my apartment. I banged on my door with the fever of a madman. I have to get in. Again those childhood questions popped into my head along with the answers. What superpower would you want? …I’d want to fly. What is better hotdogs or hamburgers? …Burgers, of course, stupid question! What’s the worst way to die? …Being burnt alive.
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Jordan Altman is a Geologist who has work from the Land of the Midnight Sun to the Canadian Shield. Recently taking up creative writing, his adventures within reality are now being matched by those of his imagination.