The mass of people crowded around the stairwell, all wearing the same expressions full of fear and dread. I pulled Gee forward as if I was in a trance; everything in my vision was slightly fuzzy at the edges and it felt as though it was only myself and Gee that were actually there; all I cared about was selfishly making sure that the two of us, or at least Gerard, would be safe. However, I wasn't the only one thinking like this and my weak trance-like state was making it all the more easy for surrounding people to push us out of the way.
With the heaviness of Gerard lugging on my arm -he was in more shock than me- and the swarms of people pushing and shoving mercilessly, all trying desperately to escape the rising smoke before the other, we found ourselves at the back of the crowd, in the thickest of the cloud of suffocating smoke. The narrow stairwell was bursting with people all trying to get past some kind of blockage on a lower level. Still slightly dazed and choking, I glanced to the side and saw the stair leading upwards, my thoughts began dancing frantically around my head. All we needed was air; we could go to the roof.
The fire was on this floor, but what if it spread upwards, would we be trapped?
When I felt the heaviness of where Gerard had been leaning on me cease my mind snapped to the decision; he had passed out from inhaling too much of the thick black dust, it would be too late by the time we got downstairs and out of the hotel, if we ever did; the congestion still hadn't cleared. Scooping him up with difficulty I forced my shaky feet to start climbing the stairs.
Climbing wasn't easy and I stumbled and almost fell several times, the weight of Gee slowing me and obstructing my sight; I was stepping blindly and cautiously trying to find each step. The heat from the floors below blasted up through the dark making the climb even more unbearable. I'd made this journey twice today in the elevator and never realised just how much further up the roof was from our floor.
Finding breathing difficult, I almost didn't make it to the door leading out to the fresh air. I stumbled forward, collapsing onto it making it fall open. The fresh cool air breezed over my sweat-drenched skin and I managed to pull myself up from where I had fallen. I dragged Gee's unconscious body further from the door and slammed it closed before collapsing once again and closing my eyes involuntarily.
The chaos of the hotel parking lot woke me; the screams and yells and cries of surrounding people. I sat up, a sharp pain immediately running through my head, and glanced around for anyone I knew. My eyes locked on a paramedic and he came across to me straight away.
"Lay back down..." he glanced at his clipboard, "Michael, you need some rest." I let him push me back down into the blankets I had been lying in, "We can't take you to the hospital just yet; it's only a small hospital here and many of the beds are full of more serious cases. There were a lot of casualties," I followed his gaze up to the side of The Shippington. The fire had spread quite severely, wreaking havoc all the way up the left side. He walked away leaving me bundled up in blankets surrounded by many other people in the same way to take in the full extent of the devastation.
"Hey, Mikes." Frank appeared at my side and I turned to face him, he looked like he'd been crying, "We couldn't find Bob. We're just hoping that he's in the hospital and not...." His voice broke and he began crying into his hand heavily while collapsing to his knees beside me.
"He's not dead! We can't think like that!" I sat up and put my arm around his shoulder, "Think happy thoughts..." God how cheesy am I quoting my brother? Shit...
"Where's Gee?" I asked him, still rubbing his shoulder comfortingly.
"He's fine, he was talking to a cop the last time I saw him." Frank answered through quiet sobs. "Everyone else is fine too."
I glanced around trying to find Gerard, "Do they have any idea what caused it?"
He moved away from me and wiped his face across his sleeve "Well, actually..." but he was cut off by a group of police officers traipsing in front of us, one dragging a screaming tearful girl; Sara.
Where the hell did she come from?
"I didn't fucking do it!" she kicked and punched at anything she could reach while the officer holding her made an unimpressed face and continued dragging her. "I didn't fucking do it!" she wailed and I sat and watched.
"Mikey, I swear I didn't do it! I swear it!" she locked eyes with me before being hurdled into a waiting police car and driven off.
"So, yeah, they think it was Sara." Frank finished.
I woke up with a desperate need to piss, but glancing around the parking lot, that after five hours we were still made to stay in, and noticing the various small children and mothers, I decided that I better go in search of somewhere more appropriate. So I stood from where I had been since they rescued us from the roof, my legs and arms clicking loudly as I did so, and walked in the direction of a far off portakabin.
I saw Brian and Ray over on the further side of the lot and, being exhausted and still in slight shock, I really didn't want to talk to either of them. As I snuck quietly behind an ambulance and continued walking, I was hit by guilt at avoiding them but that feeling was pushed to the back of my mind as I heard Gerard's, Frank's and sally's whispered voices coming from on front of the ambulance.
"She's the fucking evil one!" Gee whispered angrily and I saw the shadow of his hand point to where Sally was standing.
"Gerard, she's got you wrapped round her vindictive little finger! You'll believe anything but the truth!" Sally's calm voice replied.
"Bullshit! You told me yourself!" Gee snarled.
"No I didn't! Just ask Frankie!" her voice was still calm.
There was a soft screech as Gee turned to face Frank, "How the hell would Frank know?" he asked.
"Gee, Sara was a bitch! I don't think she was right in the head..." Frank began, sounding as though he really wished he wasn't part of this.
"No, she wasn't right in the head! But whose fault was that? Hm...?" Gerard asked.
I stood as still as I could, holding my breath and trying to make sense of the conversation, my bladder getting excruciatingly painful.
"It wasn't your fault Gee!" Frank said softly.
"Too fucking right it wasn't my fault!" Gerard spat furiously, "It was her fault!" again he pointed to Sally who laughed slightly. "You're the sick one," he was still pointing frantically in her direction, "You'd put your own sister away for arson! That's just wrong!"
Damn, I really needed to take a piss!
I couldn't hold it anymore and the soft trickling noise as it hit the ground rang out at a cringingly loud volume. I grimaced as I realised that they'd know I was there but at the same time, the relief I felt was unbelievable. I let out a contented sigh and sure enough, short moments later, they were all around the corner.
Regardless of the fact I had just pissed myself, the words of their conversation kept swimming through my ears confusing me and angering me at the same time. They were all looking from me, to each other and then back to me, nervously.
"I wanna know what the fuck is going on!" I demanded and once again they all looked shiftily at each other.
Not the most eventful, apart from little Mikey's 'accident'. Not sure what yez are gonna think of that-lol :) But I had to write something to make them notice him.
Dedicated to pinkkissypetefreak because without her I wouldn't have made myself write this so soon...so thank you! The fact that the dedicated chapter to you is about urinating is purely coincidental and I apologise-lol :)
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