The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

  • November 29The Counseling department is holding a Lunch and Learn workshop Wed. Dec. 6 about managing anxiety. Email [email protected] for details.
  • November 29Blue Ridge Virginia Governor's School applications are due Fri. Dec. 8.
  • November 20Auditions for the spring play, Alice in Wonderland, start Dec. 4. See Mr. Edgerton or Ms. Coleman for more information.
  • November 20Seniors! Jostens will be at lunches on Tues. Dec. 5 as a make-up order day for graduation items.
  • November 20Allison Monfalcone received a "Best Actor" award and Kyle Landes received an Honorable Mention at the One Act Regionals Competition on Nov. 18.
The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat
Bright light at Monster Jam 2008 – Tacoma, Wa. Photo Courtesy of Jenni under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic.

Five Bright Lights

Day 0

I had helped put out four fires already, and this one topped all of them by a longshot. Flames shot out of half of the building’s windows, and I could feel the heat from 25 feet away through my bunker gear. It didn’t help that the call said there were people still inside. Just another September in California, I thought to myself.

“You should stay out of this one, Kitten,” John ordered as he put on a breathing apparatus. The other guys call me Kitten instead of Luke because I’m new to firefighting and I’m smaller than them. They see me as a helpless newborn.

“Call me by my name,” I demanded.

John stared at me with the eyes of a lion gazing at its prey. “You know what? This is the perfect opportunity to show you just how weak you are. Come on.”

Although the way he said it was horrible, this was the first time he had treated me like an ally, so I put on my own mask and headed in with him. I couldn’t see through the smoke and it burned my eyes even through my mask. John was calling for any survivors. When we finally got a response, John kicked in the door in the direction of their cry. Looking into the room, I wondered how someone in those flames could even be alive. John found a man–who was crouched in the far corner, coughing like a madman–with astonishing speed and threw the man over his shoulder.

As John carried him back down the stairs with me pulling up the rear, I could feel the steps suddenly begin to crack under us. Just as they started disintegrating under our feet, we jumped over the gap and barely landed halfway down to the floor.

“Whoa! That actually just happened!” I yelled in my mind. Then I heard John groan in pain and looked over to see him gripping his shin. This could be my chance to finally prove myself! I threw the civilian over my shoulder and hooked an arm under John’s, then half carried, half dragged them both down the stairs. Their weight pushed down on me, but I kept going. Just then, I heard an ominous creak that could only mean one thing: The walls were beginning to cave in. I somehow picked up my speed and kept the three of us going down the stairs as fast as we could possibly move.

Then, in one of the greatest mistakes of my life, I lost track of my foot placement and tripped. The weight of the three of us hitting the steps caused them to shatter under us, sending the three of us into the flames below.

Day 2

Suddenly, I felt warmth. Not the blazing heat of the flames, but a peaceful warmth shining down on my face. I was lying on something soft. When I opened my eyes, I saw that I was surrounded by cherry blossom trees and looked down to see myself lying on their petals. I jumped up, looking myself over and noticing that I was completely unscathed. How could that be? Where was I?

Then I saw smoke rising in the distance. Without thinking, I rushed in that direction to find that the smoke was rising from below a ledge. When I reached the ledge, I looked down into the valley and saw the source of the smoke: a charred brick building. I immediately recognized it as the first building I ever helped to put out. Then an orb made of light appeared in front of me over the ledge. I watched it transform into a small child. I caught him and put him on my side of the ledge.

Then I saw his face. He was the first person I had ever saved from a fire.

“You can’t give up,” I heard a voice say. It wasn’t a normal human voice. It sounded as if it manifested from a roaring flame. I looked behind me and was blinded by the light emitted from a bright white figure in the cherry blossom trees. I closed my eyes and felt like I was drifting off to sleep. This must be a dream…I thought.


Day 3

“He might not ever walk again.”

Those were the first words I heard as I regained consciousness. My entire body was either burning, aching, or numb. It was too much to bear, but I didn’t have any choice other than to lay there. I tried to open my mouth to say something, but my tongue and my throat were so dry that I could barely make a noise.

“Wahh-her,” I whimpered. Whoever had spoken apparently didn’t hear me. I lifted up my arm. It hurt, but I managed to smack the table beside the bed to get the person’s attention. A woman looked over. “Wah-her,” I repeated.

She smiled, and told me, “Right away, hon.” When she brought it back and helped me drink it, I’ll admit I shed a tear. It was the first time in recent memory that I felt a sense of relief.

“You’ve been unconscious for nine days,” the woman told me “but you’ll be okay.” I had heard what she said moments before about not being able to walk again, but for some reason I felt reassured.

“What…what happened to the others?”

“They…” she hesitated. “Your partner will be fine, but the other man…he didn’t survive.”


Day 10

It was 1:00 in the morning. The pain was getting worse, and it didn’t help that my entire body was itching from my burns. The only thing I had to distract myself was a small TV, but at least I didn’t have any more physical therapy for the day. I couldn’t help but think about the man I haad tried to carry out of the building. If someone else had gone in with John, would everyone have survived? Was John right about me all along?

The longer I stared into the TV, the brighter it seemed to get. Strangely, it kept getting brighter. Eventually I had to look away, but it suddenly illuminated the entire room until I had to close my eyes. When I opened them, I was back in the forest of sakura cherry trees, and the entity (for I had no idea what else to call the being) from before was only a few feet away, sitting on a fallen log.

“I thought you’d never come back,” the entity said. “I have four more bright lights to show you.” I just stared at him, squinting. What else could I have done? I had never seen anything like this before. I was sure it wasn’t a dream this time. I was fully aware of what was happening and how strange it all was.

“Why are you doing this?” I asked him.

“You were thinking about quitting,” he responded. “You get injured once and give up, never even considering that maybe you could recover.”

“How did you know that I was going to quit?”

“Come with me.” He somehow transported me in a flash to another charred building. I quickly realized it was the location of the second fire that I ever helped put out. The being led me inside where we met another bright light. This time it transformed into a tall woman.

“Luke…do you remember me?” she asked as another light appeared next to her hand.

“I do,” I replied, beginning to tear up.

“I know you might not know this, but when you saved me…well…you saved both of us.” The light at her hand transformed into another small child. “That was the day I first realized I was carrying. Without you, he would’ve never been born.”

Suddenly I became extremely tired and dizzy. In a blur, I passed out.


Day 24

I woke up to see the sun rising outside the window of my hospital room. It seemed like the sun was even burning my skin through the window. The pain was almost more than I could bear. I felt I couldn’t keep going like this for much longer, and it hadn’t been close to a month yet. The nurse walked in.

“I need more pain meds,” I told her, holding back tears.

“Sure thing,” she responded. “And by the way, your buddy John is here to see you. If you don’t feel up to seeing him, that’s fine. I’m sure he’ll understand. He said he’s sorry about what happened.”

Really? Was he really sorry? John had never apologized for anything. “Yes,” I said. “I want to see him.” Immediately I had second thoughts. What was I doing? Was I crazy? I could barely think right now, much less talk to John. Then he walked in the room. I could see the look of pain on his face. He was covered in bandages also, and was walking on crutches.

“I’m sorry.” John apologized. “For everything. I’m sorry for everything I said, I’m sorry for getting you into this mess, and I’m sorry for not apologizing sooner. I have been a…”

“It’s okay,” I cut him off. “I was the one that insisted on going in with you. It’s my fault.”

“No, it’s not,” he followed up. “And everyone on the squad is sorry too, Luke.” He called me Luke and no one is even watching, I thought to myself. He had no reason to call me that other than to be nice to me. Wow…he really was sorry. Stunned, I found myself unable to say anything.

“Well, that’s all I had to say,” John said. “You can do this, Luke. We’re all rooting for you.”


Day 51

I woke up in the cherry blossom forest once again. No. No, no, no. I couldn’t do this again. What was the entity planning on teaching me, anyway? Was he trying to show me how far I’d fallen?

I got up, and without even looking for the entity, I ran. I ran as far as I could go. It felt good to run after all that time in my bed in the hospital. I hadn’t ever felt more alive. Eventually, I saw smoke rising on the horizon. I stopped, knowing full well that it was just a way to lure me into another visit from clones–or spirits, I didn’t know which–of the people I’d saved. Then I felt the ground crack under my feet. I looked down. I was standing in an entire field of bones.

Suddenly, a skeleton hand broke free from the ground and grabbed my ankle. More and more skeletons crawled toward me and dragged me back down with them. I called out in terror, but just then, I was saved by a bright light above the ground. As it pulled me back to the surface, it transformed into the last man I had saved in that last, fateful fire. When I was standing again, he pulled my hand and we ran back into the forest.

“What was all that?” I couldn’t help but ask, panting.

“Lost souls from years in the future,” the man answered. I put my face in my hands at the horror of the thought.

“They’re from a future where you decided to quit. That was something we never planned on showing you.”

“You’re telling me you’re all working together?” I yelled. “For what? Just to make me feel bad about myself?”

“No. To make you feel better about what you could be,” I heard the entity say behind me. I looked over my shoulder at him and the light sent me back to the hospital. But this time, I wasn’t in my room. I was on an operating table with blinding lights swirling round and round above my head as my vision went dark.


Day 56

They told me I had gone into cardiac arrest. My heart stopped beating for three minutes and they didn’t know why. I spent the entire night afraid, thinking about what might’ve happened. In the morning, someone knocked on the door of my room. When the door opened, I was shocked. It was the entire squad of firefighters.

“We heard your heart stopped,” John said. “We all wanted to come see you.” They went on to tell me how sorry they were and how my sacrifice wasn’t in vain. This didn’t help me. I hated the way things were, but I didn’t need anyone to explain it all to me. “We…I guess what we’re trying to say is…we’re proud to have you on our team. Anyone who would go through this to save one person is a true hero in our eyes. You’ll always be one of us, Luke. Don’t forget that.”


Day 64

“We’re going to try something different now,” the nurse told me. “I want you to try to walk on your own.” I had been training to walk again for what felt like an hour today. I highly doubted I could walk on my own at that point, but I would’ve rather fallen and broken another bone than not know if I was going to move on.

“Okay,” I answered. She stepped back and I held the bars tightly. I pictured John and the others. I pictured the small child, the pregnant woman, and the man that I had saved from the fires. I took a step. It hurt and I wanted to give up, but we can’t always have what we want, can we? I took another step, and then another. I began to cry again, but this time I couldn’t help but laugh at the same time. By the time I reached the end of the bars, I was cracking up. I had almost forgotten what it felt like to be genuinely happy.


Day 172

For almost six months,I put everything I had into recovering. I put up with the physical therapy, bandage changes, and horribly-smelling creams. I put up with the stinging, the burning, and the itching of my burns. My injuries became my life. I was sad, scared, and frustrated, but I had to keep going. If I didn’t, what did I have left?


Day 379

At last, I had fully recovered. That day was my first day back on the squad. The scars were still there, but I didn’t mind. I felt tough, like an experienced firefighter. I walked up to the opened garage doors and John was the first person I saw. He was working on one of the trucks and looked at me like we’d never met. All I could do was give him a wide grin. As soon as he realized it was me, he smiled back and got up. We hugged each other like we hadn’t seen each other in years. In a way, we hadn’t. I hadn’t been myself since day zero.

“You look good!” he shouted. “Even the scars, man! You look like a real firefighter!” No kidding, I thought. “Well, you know what I mean. Come inside…I can’t wait to see the look on the other guys’ faces.” He led me inside, and as he did, I began to feel dizzy. A blinding light seemed to flash right in front of my eyes.

Before I knew it, I was back in the cherry blossom forest. I looked around and saw the glowing figure sitting on a tree stump with his legs crossed.

“I haven’t seen you in a while,” I stated.

“I had some business to take care of,” he responded. “Come with me. I have one last thing to show you.” So I followed him and he led me to a valley. Light was spewing out of it and I had a hard time looking at it.

“Give your eyes a bit to adjust,” he said.

Once they had, I looked down into the valley to saw what looked like hundreds of bright lights.

“Are they…?”

“Yeah,” the entity confirmed. “Every single life you’ve saved by recovering from your wounds.”

I stared at them in awe and smiled. “You’re the fifth light, aren’t you?” I asked the entity.

He looked at me. “I am,” he answered.

“But I didn’t save a fifth person,” I said in confusion.

Then the light emitted from his body dimmed. Suddenly, I could see his features. He wore a coat and boots and had burn scars covering his face.

“Yes, you did,” he said. “You saved yourself.”

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