“There he is, I see him!” Drake said, using his incredible sight despite the rain, “let’s kill the fucker!”
“Shit,” Bergemo said under his breath as his nose kept leading him toward the smoke.
“You won’t get away, bitch!” Benny called, “we’ll kill ya if it’s the last thing we do!!”
Bergemo ignored Benny’s proclamation when he finally saw what his nose was leading him to, a raging fire that should be impossible in this storm.
Instead of trying to figure out how the hell a fire occurred in a rainstorm, he dashed toward the house full speed. Why? Bergemo himself didn’t know. He guessed that dying in a fire was better than getting caught by those three sadistic lunatics.
When the three ruffians cut the corner after Bergemo and saw him running toward the fire, they stopped in their tracks.
“What the fuck is he doing?” Benny asked, “is he going toward the fire?!”
“Better yet,” Drake said, “how the hell is there a fire in the middle of a rainstorm?!”
“Doesn’t matter, let’s get him.”
“You crazy?!” Benny said, “the fucker’ll prolly die in the flames anyway!”
“If you wanna chicken out, fine.” Leo looked to the flames, “I’m gonna kill that bastard with my bare hands.”
Leo dashed off. Drake and Benny sighed and went after him.
* * *
Bergemo snuck past the firemen and crowd of people watching with ease and entered the house through the side window. He weaved his way through the knocked over furniture, burning wood and falling debris. He heard a heartbeat one level up along with coughing, hacking, and crying.
Someone was inside, and it, Bergemo surmised, was a little girl.
Bergemo slid, dodged, and shimmied his way to the stairs that were strangely not burning with the rest of the house and ran toward the little girl’s heartbeat. The door was shut, and the knob had a shiny look to it. Bergemo didn’t need to be a scientist to know that if he touched the knob that he’d get burned. Plus, he wasn’t strong enough to simply kick the door down and save the girl himself, but he had to do something. He intensified his focus and looked all around the hallway for anything that could be used as a weapon, there was nothing available. He ran past the door and went into the other room and found a broken bedframe which was, strangely, not burned with the rest of the wood. He didn’t waste time questioning why as he grabbed part of the bedframe with a sharp end and raced toward the door and jabbed at the knob until it broke. He threw the bedframe leg aside and kicked the door in to find the little girl on the floor barely breathing. He picked her up and took her out the room where the air was more favorable then put her down. He put his ear to her heart and was relieved to know she was still alive; he checked her pulse and it was strong but fading gradually. The girl, he surmised, wasn’t unconscious but short of breath. He thought about doing mouth-to-mouth but decided to punch her in the chest instead. The girl regained her wind and shot up with wide eyes, taking in deep breathes.
Guess that did the trick, Bergemo thought.
The girl looked around in horror until her eyes set on Bergemo.
“D-did you. . .?” She gestured to the fire.
“No,” Bergemo replied, “I was passing through till I saw it, then I heard you dying so I figured I’d give you a hand.”
“How did you. . .?”
“I have an ability,” Bergemo replied, “let’s leave it at that. Come on, let’s get out of here.”
The girl nodded as Bergemo stood up, turned his back and gestured for her to get on. She took the offer. Bergemo then heard three more heartbeats in the building, two were pumping like pistons while one was calm and steady.
Shit, Bergemo thought, they followed me.
“What’s wrong?” The girl asked.
“We have guests.”
Bergemo ran back into the girl’s room and put her down.
“Stay close.” Bergemo said as he ripped the blankets from her bed and turned them into a makeshift rope. He realized the blanket itself wasn’t long enough and used the bed sheets and the mattress cover to give some extra length. He went to open the window until he saw it had that shiny look. He heard the Benny Drake, and Leo making their way to the stairs and said fuck it, then broke the window, kicked out the frame to prevent being cut by glass and lowered the blanket toward the ground and told the girl to climb down.
She took one look outside and shook her head vehemently.
“Look,” Bergemo said, “those people downstairs are here to kill me, and unless you wanna die too you’ll climb down and forget you saw me. When you get to the firemen outside, tell them you were trapped and had to make a makeshift rope to get out. When they ask how, say a good Samaritan came and helped out but died to prevent you from being burned.”
Before the girl could protest, Bergemo tied the blanket to a secure part of the girl’s bed and dashed out the room, closing the door behind him.
* * *
Bergemo grabbed the bed leg and dashed downstairs. When he was three steps from the bottom, he saw the three ruffians surfing through the debris.
“Shit, he ain’t here!” Drake yelled, “Sneaky little bastard.”
“Naw, he is,” Leo said, “I can smell him.”
Bergemo threw the bed leg at Leo’s head and he turned around and caught it at the last second, “Told ya he was here.”
Bergemo hopped down the stairs and dashed toward the way he came then banked left toward the back window. Leo gave chase while Benny and Drake went to cut him off. There were two windows, one of which Drake beat Bergemo to so he had to use the other one. Drake lunged at Bergemo but just missed as Bergemo broke through. When that happened, the flames erupted and began consuming the house at an alarming rate. The three ruffians were trapped inside and burning alive which left Bergemo with a decision: save them or let them die.
He ran toward the front and searched for the girl, he found her climbing down the window, landing and then running toward the front. He looked back to the house and saw the flame making its way around as if it were embracing the house in a motherly hug. The boys were screaming their heads off. He looked to the firemen, but none seemed to hear them, upon closer inspection he realized. . .
Those aren’t firemen, Bergemo thought, they’re Orphan Collectors.
Bergemo started to dash toward the girl but she was snatched up and stuffed in the back of the navy-blue van before he could move an inch. Shit, Bergemo thought as he went back into the house to save the three boys trying to kill him.
When he got in, he saw Drake and Benny lugging Leo toward the window which was blocked off by flames. Bergemo ran up and lent them a hand. When they realized he was there they almost dropped Leo until Bergemo stopped them and gave them a look saying do you wanna die or get out of here? The boys decided to put differences aside and accept his offer.
Bergemo ran up to the window where the flames departed like a row of knights when the king arrived and motioned them to hand him Leo. They did. Next, Bergemo offered Benny his hand and he looked and Drake, nodded and took it. When Bergemo got Benny out and Drake after, Drake punched Bergemo in the face and pushed him back into the house.
“That’s for Percy, you bastard!” Drake said as the flames consumed the house and it collapsed on top of Bergemo and anyone who was still inside.
The boys watched the house as it burned to ashes and fell to the ground to be sure Bergemo Grey didn’t sneak out some back way, that Bergemo Grey was dead. The sirens sounded and the boys dashed back to Borough Hall station and headed back to the orphanage.
* * *
After Drake punched him, Bergemo opened his eyes to find himself surrounded by flames and a collapsing house. His focus intensified to a level he’d never experienced before. The world seemed to be in slow motion and his senses were heightened beyond their natural limits. As the house was coming down, Bergemo saw a path that led to a side window. That side window led to the park where neither the boys nor the Orphan Collectors would notice him should he make it in time. Bergemo dashed down the path, filled twists, turns, shimmies, and army rolls. He moved like a black-ops operative as he made his way past the burning furniture, falling pieces of wood and debris and unruly flames. The house started to come down a bit faster, which meant he as