(continued from Start)
As the windows blew out, shards of razor-sharp glass flew towards Raju’s unprotected back, intent on slicing themselves deep into his flesh. Not one of them found its mark. Unconcerned, they flew on towards Larry’s inviting white flesh, revealed as the towel covering his hips was ripped from his body by the bow-wave of air. Try as they might, the only thing the splinters found was the wall behind Larry’s rapidly detumescing naked form.
Larry and Raju’s eyes found each other and they stared at each other for a long moment, then Raju’s face broke into a wide grin, which faded instantly as he saw Larry’s eyes flick to the kitchen window, an expression of horror suddenly on his face. He spun around, the contents of his glass beaker describing a perfect, green arc through the air as he did so. Outside the window, moving rapidly towards them, was a wall of flame. It was melting everything before it, buildings, trees – even the sky seemed to be on fire.
Raju instinctively threw up his hands to protect his face, the beaker flying from him to shatter against the marble counter-top. Panic filled his mind with an overwhelming terror that blocked all thoughts but one – ‘I don’t want to die!’ Then, from nowhere, washing through his mind with unstoppable force, came the powerful mantra, accumulated from months of painstaking practice – Let It Go! He let it go. His very skin tingled and tears sprang spontaneously into his mind as a feeling of intense peace flooded him. As deep as his terror had been, this, combined with the power of his command magnified into a raging torrent of sheer protecting energy that slammed through his being, leaving him shaking like a leaf on one level and yet as strong as a fortress on a deeper, more fundamental level.
As these sensations streamed through him, he moved his hands away from his eyes, palms still turned towards the window, to find that the wall of flame had stopped and was seemingly hovering, just outside the window. He heard, behind his back, a single curse word fall from Larry’s mouth and felt, rather than heard him move towards him. Towards the window. The orange force outside seemed to surge forward again, towards them and, as if in response, the white energy within Raju poured through his being and outwards towards the window.
Larry stopped moving and the force outside fell back again. Raju turned to Larry and gestured him back into the hallway outside the kitchen. Larry moved backwards, then stopped and cursed again, bringing his foot upwards into his hands. A shard of glass was stuck in the ball of his foot. Looking down, Raju saw that the entire floor was covered in lethal fragments of glass. As Larry pulled out the glass, a bright drop of blood began to ooze from the wound.
Taking a quick look towards the window to reassure that the orange wall remained stationary outside, Raju moved past Larry into the bedroom, there to gather a set of clothes and a pair of boots for Larry. Coming back into the kitchen, he pulled a chair towards them and made Larry sit, thrusting the clothes into his lap in the process.
Larry dressed quickly but keeping all the while his shocked face turned towards the window. Raju watched him, feeling a succession of thoughts batter themselves against the shield in his mind. Each thought bounced off – what to do, where to go, what to take, whether to move at all, who to call, what to do now, where would be safe, who could help, what was happening – the thoughts came relentlessly, but each one was born, lived for an instant, then died for lack of sustenance.
Finally, Larry was ready to move,his feet encased in strong boots, a wadge of kitchen roll held against his wound by thick socks and an allergy to sticking plasters. A thought slipped into Raju’s mind about how quickly people’s thoughts turn to trivial matters, even in the face of overwhelming fear, before he was able to let it go with a wry smile.
Larry stood, looked around the wrecked room, cast a frightened look towards the window, where an intense wall of fire hovered in an unnatural way just outside, then turning his back with an effort, strode purposefully into the hallway.
Raju looked towards the same window and narrowed his eyes. He seemed to see something inside that fiery wall – a movement as if something were swimming within the flames. Cocking his head to one side he tried to focus on the forms. They looked strangely like spectral eels, swimming back and forth. With a jolt, he realised that each one had a human face and that each had an expression of fierce rage distorting its features. As the images became clearer, he realised that each face was looking directly towards his – malevolent eyes tracking his with ferocious energy.
With a force of effort, Raju wrenched his eyes away, picked up the blender of green gloop that was still miraculously sitting on the counter-top and fled the kitchen.
(continues in Tear)