Burn with me

Prologue

New York, April 1983

Jeremiah Wanner looked around his new, big, sun bathed office apartment and sighed deeply; not in relief. He was bored now, bored and doing nothing with his old, silver, dusty typewriter. He liked the typewriter more than the computer, it was warmer, more traditional and it had the sound of inspiration.
Jeremiah needed that sound.
All the stories the past year had been tremendously interesting but had a reasonable explanation that made sense.

(Those he actually enjoyed, but were less serious for him and he enjoyed reading them, not writing them).

Those were not his main subjects of interest.

(Those were reserved for the interesting supernatural or doubtful stories).

The only story in the past year or so that had caught his eye and had seemed supernaturally unusual had been the firebombs explosion caused by terrorists which occurred in Longmont Virginia, in a government scientific facility. And that, was a fake goddamn terrorist attack, Jeremiah knew. He had been in the job too long not to know. There were too many loopholes in the story. He suddenly felt as if he should call his private secretary a few neighborhoods down to check if there was anything about that. Thirty six year old Jeremiah liked to write the most interesting stories himself. True, he had once shared his passion for it with the magazine's co owner and founder Ralph Gleason but since his death eight years ago,

(Which Jeremiah got over only six years earlier)

Jeremiah liked to work alone. He picked up the phone and rang. He had to wait five rings until the receptionist

(Oh! The nerve that woman had! )

finally passed him on to his private secretary who in turn read him the list of stories and then the list of personal appointments with him that people had scheduled. He stopped her on the seventh one, an appointment due next week (yes he saw someone else every day).

It was an appointment with one Charlene McGee, a nine-year-old anxious little girl, who wanted to tell her story no matter what or so his secretary described her. And, he suspected, she had something to do with the occurrence. Jeremiah always liked a good challenge, and a nine-year-old girl telling a long awaited story sounded like a damn good challenge to him. He quickly moved her appointment with him to two days instead of a week. He picked up his coffee mug and sipped it gleefully, then heaved a great sigh of relief, awaiting his daily meeting.


She was in that stable when he

, (Oh, that horrible, horrible man!),

fired two bullets at her father, the sickening noise of flesh exploding; Her own father's flesh.
Then the fury.
Her own horrible fury. The sound of flames eating John RainBird alive and dodging her own death. Then, her father's very last words. Yes, she would destroy the shop. She would do it for him. The flames of her fury and the death and smell of burning flesh. Then the duck pond; her savior.

She had killed so many.

Finally, the worst part came when that woman called

(She hated the woman now, so much!)

her a witch, an evil witch…

It had scarred her more than anything else and suddenly the woman lost her eye, changed shape and became Charlie's own monster, the one monster that won and died by her flames, smiling …

Nine-year-old Charlie McGee sat up in her bed in the cheap motel room she stayed in, enveloped with cold sweat running down her body, a small twinkle of horror and fear in her eyes. It took her a moment to realize where she was, in the motel, in her room, in New York, five blocks from the skyscraper that contained Rolling Stone newspaper office. It was two days since she had first gone up the elevator in the skyscraper to reach the publication office; Two days since she scheduled that personal appointment with Jeremiah Wanner in a week's time. She got up slowly from her bed with a slight sense of nausea at first. Then she gradually walked to the bathroom and took a long, long, warm shower,

(Just like in Hastings Glen)

to calm her down; letting the water slide slowly over her shoulders.

Back then in the motel at Hastings she was only seven. Innocent, afraid and not very sure of wrong and right.

Two years had passed now. She was nine an a half now, a year and a half separating her from ten; maybe just a few weeks more than that.

Charlie exited the shower, put on her clothes, brushed her teeth and went down to the motel breakfast. As she sat, eating her butter spread toast, a man came to her. He was rather round at the belly, wearing thick round spectacles round his shaved, balding head. He spoke in a friendly and excited babble and she noticed his eyes were full of smile. He told her that a certain receptionist called from Rolling Stone offices and told him to give her a message, that her appointment had just been rescheduled, so instead of five days Charlie would only have to wait two.


In the Healing Hearts Hospital in Longmont Virginia, in the dire burns and bruises department, on a wide bed, lay James Hollister, a transparent breathing tube/wire connected to his mouth and nose. He was in a coma, a few months now, a bloody bullet wound in his belly and quite a few burns on the side of his torso.

After the fire at the shop had started, someone had thought of going back to the stable and get the unconscious Cap through the flames to safety; his secretary Julia, no doubt. Suddenly his eyes flew open in shock and fear as if waking from a dream. He looked around him, then at the transparent breathing tube connected to his mouth and nose. In an instant, a yell came from his bed waking many other patients and alerting some doctors: "Snake! SNAKE! SANAAYYYKE!"

One bed away, a patient named Leon, who was in a similar state of coma caused by a poisonous snakebite, stirred.

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