Welcome to the End//Part 31--Fires
The fires that we build now that there are only a couple of us are small. If we are going to burn up all of this stuff, we’ll need something roaring. A small fire is either going to be smothered by anything we throw on it, or it’s going to take so long for anything to catch that it will take all night.
I don’t want that. I want a fire that will be seen for miles. One with flames that punch up into the sky 30 and 40 feet. A fire that will scare anything, even a wailer, into staying away. I want a fire to get so big that it almost has a personality, then I want to laugh in its face.
That kind of fire needs fuel, so I’m headed back to my storage shed to see what kind of accelerants I can find. I don’t want gas. I want something that burns easy but is less combustible.
I dig around the shed, and realize that it’s probably been picked over already. Walter was resourceful. I’m sure he found anything that could start a fire the first day or two. But there is equipment here, equipment that has engines and gas.
I find a hose still coiled over in a corner and large bucket. I use a knife that’s also laying around to cut off a bit of hose as long as my arm and start siphoning the gas from those engines into the bucket. They drain quickly, and by the time I’ve hit them all the bucket is about half full. It’s not a bad amount of gas. It should make tonight’s task easier.
The fumes from the gas are overpowering, and by the time I get to camp I’m feeling a bit light headed. Caroline is reading, something I haven’t seen her do in days, and it’s comforting. It feels like she’s coming back. I put the bucket down far from us, up near the drums where we’ve been building our fires.
I say hi to Caroline. She gives me a slight wave but never pulls herself from her page.
I go to the area that’s become mine, and I start to go through everything. If I’m going to walk to Oklahoma—and I am—then I can’t do it with everything that I’ve got around me now. I’ve created a comfortable space that feels like mine. I thought this was home. Or, at leat, home for a while. Now, if I’m essentially becoming a nomad until I can walk the few hundred miles to this church then I’ve got to cull. I need to reassess everything I’ve brought here.
I take my pack and dump it out in front of me. Clothes fall into a pile. Other gear tumbles out and rolls away from me. There’s matches in a stay-dry container. There’s a couple of knives. But mostly what’s in the pack are clothes.
Then there’s the gas mask. It’s the exact kind of thing that I should leave behind. It’s impractical. It’s old. Then I remember just a few days before and Caroline’s magic moment. How if I hadn’t had this mask then I wouldn’t be here to make these decisions. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to decide to go to Oklahoma.
I put the mask in the pile of things that are coming with me. It’s a pile that’s still too big, but I stop trying to make tough decisions and pile everything that I’m not keeping into a somewhat organized stack near the barrels where we’ll later make big fire.
“What are you doing?” Caroline asks.
“Lightening my load.”
“Too much to carry.”
“Yeah, makes sense. But you’re going to burn it all?”
“Don’t know what else to do with it. Plus I want to see a big, big fire. I kind of feel like I need to.”
“OK, Pyro.” Caroline walks to her pile of stuff and drags a mat that she’d been laying on—not her bed, a spare mat that she’d found somewhere—and drags it over to the pile and throws it on top.
She looks at me and says “Kindling.”