A single match ignited the fire. Furniture, books, and picture frames doused in gasoline brought it to life. It wasn't the smoke that billowed from the windows of his father's house that first caught Steve McGarrett's attention. It was the sound of distant sirens. When he emerged from his morning swim, his ears perked and his gaze lifted. His eyes grew wide in horror. The shock only rendered him useless for a few seconds. The thought of his sister still inside propelled him forward. Across sand and grass he raced. Throwing open the back door, he plunged into the inferno.
Heat and smoke assaulted him the moment he crossed the threshold. Fire had already consumed the study. It climbed the walls and spread across the ceiling, escaping into the adjacent rooms. Only one fact registered. His sister was nowhere to be seen. Was she trapped or incapacitated elsewhere in the house?
His voice carried into the house but no answer returned. The air began to sting his eyes and throat. Instinct ordered him to move quickly. He draped a forearm across his mouth and nose and, without any thought to his own well being, dove straight through the flames.
Steve rode a wave of adrenaline, sailing through the double doors to the foot of the stairs. Fire made contact with his unprotected legs and torso. Pain immediately registered at an unnaturally subdued level. He pushed it to the background and bounded up the steps, taking two at a time. The smoke had risen as well. He staggered at the top, his lungs heaving in smoke and soot. The rush of adrenaline was beginning to fade.
Coughing cut him off. He braced briefly against the wall before throwing wide her bedroom door. It was empty.
So were the others.
Despite having lived in the house his entire childhood, Steve turned the wrong direction back into the hallway. Instead of heading back toward the stairs, a wall blocked his retreat. He spun abruptly, realizing his error. The sudden movement was enough to upset his already faltering equilibrium. He threw out both hands to steady himself but the hallway seemed to tilt beneath his feet. A second later, he fell to his knees. His chest tightened painfully and uncontrollable coughing overtook him. He pitched forward, jamming his palms into the hardwood floor.
On overwhelming set of events happened in rapid succession. As he gasped for air, the last of the adrenaline in his system tanked. Agony flared in his legs. His stomach rolled. His vision darkened. Fire finally compromised the supports above the study. The crack and splitting of wood was followed by a thunderous crash as the roof gave way, flattening what remained of the small table and chairs beneath it. The jolt sent him careening onto his side. Before he passed out, he heard the sirens wail and fall silent outside. He wasn't conscious for the other sounds that followed. Glass shattered, frantic yelling erupted, and gunshots were fired.