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Arid ground, dry brush, and parched undergrowth fed the flames. Ahead of the men, the inferno was intense. Enormous trees instantly combusted, flinging brilliant embers high into the night sky. The men were a team, as they’d always been, and some serious competition for the monster. Grunting in the sultry August heat, they worked in unison, defending their town, protecting their own. All of them equal. Together, they carried the weight of the hose, and the burden of the blaze, their bodies silhouetted in the glory of the flames. “Put your back into it,” someone yelled. “This one’s not gonna beat us,” his buddy shouted back. The smoky air would choke lesser mortals, untrained amateurs; but these were qualified professionals; the elite in their field. Covered in falling debris, hot ash, and cinders, they remained focused on what they’d been trained to do. No fear. No pain. No regrets. The same old energy passed between them like electrical current. Exhilaration. Spirit. Courage. Way below the hellhole, an innocent town lay sleeping, blissfully unaware of the peril. A town filled with the people they loved. The firestorm raged, intensified, unleashed the full extent of it’s wrath. Undaunted, the men fought back, waged their own war on the uncontrollable beast; David against Goliath, yet, this giant would not be
suppressed. A shout. Suddenly, the men realized they were surrounded by a ring of fire; trees lit like torches; a twister of flame funneling skyward. The earth beneath their feet glowed red. They were trapped, with no way out. The heat was incredible as they surrendered. “We’ll be back next year.” On this particular August night, the tenth anniversary of the fire that killed them, no one in the sleeping town below would doubt it.