He couldn’t believe how such innocent faces could say such an outrageous lie.
“The wind did it.”
He wanted to press his students for the truth, but the fire alarm was blearing and although he couldn’t see the flames, he could smell the smoke. He settled for memorizing the three faces before him.
“We’ll talk more about this later. Let’s get out first.”
He herded the kids out into the hallway, already empty since everyone else had left the building. After decades of walking the same corridors, he had the evacuation routes memorized by heart. It was easy to find the shortest path outside.
That was when the normalcy disappeared.
The fire alarm still rang, but no one was gathered at the field as they should. In fact, there wasn’t much grass at all. Instead, bricks and tar covered the ground that wasn’t already taken up by buildings that shouldn’t exist. What was going on?
Small hands grabbed his and pulled him behind the school to a small plaque nestled at the base of an old tree. There, he found his name carved above the years he lived. When he reached out to touch the weathered stone, he could see through his hand.
He was dead.
As if a lid had been taken off a boiling pot, his memories bubbled forward. Although he had walked the same corridors for decades, he had only been an art teacher for four years before he died in a school fire. The school he worked in was long gone, leaving behind just an empty shell. As for the three students who brought him out, they weren’t children, they were full grown adults, and with his newfound clarity of mind, it was easy to tell what their goal was.
“I think I’m ready to clock off,” he said and opened his arms, “Send me home.”
Camp NaNoWriMo short story count: 14/31