the signs of the hour
She was here again. This place was so familiar to her, and she was sure she had been in this exact same place too many times to count. Mirina once more began to study her surroundings, making a mental note of absolutely everything she hadnít seen before, anything that caught her attention. Then, as usual, she noticed the flames slowly coming towards her. Starting to devour the countryside, to crush, kill and destroy everything and anything in their paths. The pine plantation on Mt Yoak, about 30 kilometres away, disappeared in a matter of seconds. The highway boiled away in a cloud of black, acrid smoke. Burger Bobís, just outside of the town, seemed to evaporate, like water sprinkled onto a hotplate. Houses, cars, animals, humans, melted in front of her eyes. But just as the flames were about to engulf her, they stopped dead in their tracks. No movement whatsoever. A perfectly formed ring of fire, with Mirina directly in the middle. Everything else obliterated. Everything, except for the person standing next to her. She couldnít quite make out who it was, because of the fumes and gases emitted form the foot or so thick wall of fire in front of her. Behind her, everywhere she looked except for above her. Her heart was racing. She could feel the blood rushing past her temples, and could feel her heart beating at an incredible rate. Mirina then noticed that the fire seemed to be pulsing back and forth. With her heart beat. She felt as if the fire was connected to the very bowels of her soul. Then, suddenly, a horrifying, soul-crushing scream burst forth from the sky:
"Mirina Paul! Could you please pay attention?"
"Sorry Miss Alum," blurted Mirina, "I was just thinking about..."
"Thinking about what?" the teacher interrupted.
"Nothing, it doesnít matter," Mirina trailed off, looking at her teacher, as she continued to teach the class. Rebecca Alum, her teacher, was a young woman, about 24, who had become a teacher due to her care for kids. She couldnít have any of her own, due to a problem in her birth. However, she considered all of the students her children, in a nanny like perspective. Mirina started to think about the dream again. This vision constantly haunted her mind. She had been having them for the last year or so, but at least 5 times a day, and every night in her dreams. She had wanted to tell someone about it, but thought that they would think she was a freak or something. So she just kept it to herself, hoping that she wouldnít go insane.
The bell rang, signalling that it was time to go home.
The teacher started to yell loudly as the children ran for the door, "Alright class, you know what homework you have! Exercise 5.4 and..." Mirina wasnít listening. She sat at her seat, hands over her face, trying not to cry.
"Mirina? Why are you still here?" Rebecca asked. She went over to the child, wondering what the matter was. She could hear very faint sobbing.
Rebecca quizzed Mirina once more. "Is something the matter? Can I help?"
Suddenly Mirina burst into tears, as if a dam had finally burst. A flood of salty water ran down her face. "I keep having these scary dreams, and I think that they are going to come true."
"Look, Mirina, dreams donít usually come true, especially if they are scary ones. Do you want to talk about it?"
"No, youíll think Iím a freak or something."
"Why would I do that? Iím your teacher, and I spend most of the week teaching you guys. I know most of you really well, and I know that you are not a freak. My perception of you is not going to change if you tell me about it."
"Are you sure you wonít think that Iím a freak?"
"Of course Iím sure. Now, what do you want to tell me about?"
Mirina was quiet for a minute, making up her mind. She could no longer keep it a secret, and she started to tell her teacher all about the recurring dream.
"Oh my God! Thatís horrible!" exclaimed Rebecca. "No wonder youíve been so upset. Wait here, Iím going to call your parents to..."
"NO! I donít want them to think Iím strange!"
"Look, Iím worried about you, and I think that your parents could help you."
"Please, donít tell them, Miss Alum!"
Rebecca, full of conflicting thoughts, finally came to the conclusion that the child was right. She hadnít been that well accepted by her classmates, and if her parents didnít think well of her, then her self esteem, or what little of it remained, would be totally destroyed.
"Alright, but I want to help you. Do you understand?"
"Yes, but how could you help?"
Miss Alum thought about this for a while. "By showing me the spot where it all happens."
"What? No way! I hate that place! Iím not taking you to X!"
"Thatís what I call the place."
"Anyway, do you want to keep having these dreams?"
"Then show me X."
Mirina did not want to show her teacher, but she couldnít get the thought out of her head that it might stop the dreams.
"OK. Iíll show you." Mirina then stood up, and ran outside.
"Shit, I knew this was going to be a bad day..." Rebecca mumbled, as she chased the young child outside.
Mirina had her mind fixed on reaching X, the very centre of her dream. Nothing else mattered. Running along the road, as fast as her little legs could carry her, she took no notice of people staring at her, cars with their brakes screeching as they stopped, dogs barking at her. Finally, she reached X. She stopped dead in her tracks. Still as a lake on a windless night. Mirina looked around, and noticed that Miss Alum was nowhere to be seen. So she waited.
Rebecca had lost Mirina just after they had reached the town centre. There was no way somebody wouldnít have seen her.
"Excuse me, have you seen a small girl, about 10 years old, running down this street?" She asked an old man on the side of the road.
"How could you miss her? What a freak. She went down that way."
Rebecca started down that way, and whenever she got lost, she just asked. Eventually, people just pointed where to go. Eventually, she found Mirina. Standing in the middle of the town graveyard. Completely silent.
"This is X. This is where it all happens."
Rebecca became even more worried about the mentality of Mirina.
"And then the flames start?"
Rebecca looked around, and noticed that she was standing on a grave. Examining the tombstone she noticed the name. Alexandria Paul.
"Mirina, did you know that you are standing on someoneís grave?"
"Yes, itís my motherís."
She examined the date. 4 Oct 1965 - 10 Nov 1998.
Rebecca looked at her watch. It was the 10th of November.
A faint sound could be heard in the distance. It sounded like crackling of a fire.
"Oh my God! Is it..." Rebecca screamed.
"Yes." Mirina replied quietly.
The flames appeared from over the horizon. They started to eat up everything in their path.
"Quick, what did the scream say?"
"It said Mirina."
"Anything else?" asked Rebecca, as Burger Bobís disappeared.
"Not that I could hear."
Rebecca stood there helpless, as the flames came closer and closer. The flames were about a kilometre away, when Rebecca dropped to her knees and began to pray.
"Our Father, who is in Hea..."
"Praying wonít help you." Mirina said, sounding almost evil.
Rebecca stared at Mirina, confused. She didnít understand why the child was not afraid, when less than an hour ago, Mirina was nearly vomiting at the thought of what was unfolding.
"What the hell is going on here?" Rebecca screamed at Mirina.
"Shut up, bitch! You tire me with your pathetic whining, and your childlike actions astound me! Thank Satan this entire world is going to end!" the child screamed.
Rebecca couldnít understand what was going on...
As the child stood there, with a freakish grin on her face, Rebecca knew that she was going to die unless she did something. She dived at the child, picked her up, and threw her onto the ground, in a last desperate attempt to stop this horror from happening. Mirina hit the ground in a crumpled heap, but just a quickly, stood up, and slap Rebecca across the face, drawing blood at the corner of her lip. Shocked, Rebecca just sat on the ground, sobbing as she watched the flames come closer, and closer.
Suddenly they stopped, just as Mirina had said, and began to pulse, back and forth. Then came the scream:
Rebecca sat up suddenly, sweat dripping from her body. "It was only a dream... Thank God..." She looked over at her alarm clock. 7:03 was displayed on the signature red LED display. She went through the motions of getting ready for work. She left for work an hour later, and arrived at the front desk of the school, signed in, and began to walk off.
"Rebecca! Wait a minute!"
Rebecca turned around, to face the vice-principal, with a young girl.
"Miss Alum, you have a new student. Mirina, this is your teacher, Miss Alum."
"Hi, Miss Alum." Mirina replied, in a quiet and shy tone of voice.
Rebecca quickly looked at her watch. The date was the 10th of November. Rebecca fell to the ground, screaming, "No!" She pulled a knife out of her purse, that she usually had in keeping for self-defence, and stabbed the child in the chest. The body was already dead before it hit the ground.
She started to laugh.