Our December Bronze Medal Winner

by - Wednesday, February 08, 2017


Vivian Medeiros lives in Oakville, Ontario with her husband and two children, whom she
uses as her sounding board. She always had a love of writing but a busy life kept her from pursuing it. She now enjoys taking writing courses and workshops and enters the occasional contest. During the summer months, she can be found on an island in Greece, spending time with her family.

When we contacted Vivian to reveal her placing in the contest finals she revealed that she'd entered on a whim. Well Vivian, we're so glad you did!

The photo prompt:

The unedited story:

Calm Before the Storm
by Vivian Medeiros

The smoke escapes his lips and snakes up into the sky. He immediately takes another drag from the cigarette and holds it in his lungs for a few seconds before exhaling. A hazy cloud soon floats in the air, swirling as it rises to meet the darkness above.

He could hear the snap and crackle of the fire behind him. Sitting cross-legged on the wooden walkway, eyes closed, head leaned to the side, he lets the raw emotion consume him.

As he does each time, he re-lives everything in his mind: The satisfaction of finding the perfect house. The nervous anticipation, waiting for the right time to enter and put his plan into action. And the euphoria when the magnificent flames rise up from the building.

The scenario unfolds behind closed lids. He watches himself enter the house and scan the room. The fire has to start at just the right spot to be effective. He notices the den and his heart starts to race. It's perfect. The walls are filled with books, paper is scattered on the large wooden desk, and most important of all are the many large windows that border the room.

He sets the gas can down and gets to work. He haphazardly knocks books off the shelves until he has created a large enough pile. He then opens the windows. The ventilation will help to accelerate the fire and he smiles as he imagines flames encompassing the house.

Satisfied with his work, he opens the gas can, vapours escaping to gently caress his nose. He inhales deeply, the fumes awakening each sensitive follicle as they travel through his nasal passage. He loves this part: the smell, taste and feel just before all hell breaks loose. The quiet before the storm.

He knows he needs to move, but takes a few more seconds to savour the moment. Taking one last breath, he slowly pulls himself back to present and sets everything in motion. He plans every fire, right down to the last detail, and never deviates from it.

This is it. He swings the container. Gas flows from the nozzle, the clear liquid creating an arc and dispersing when it hits the floor, large drops bouncing and bursting in the air. Once the room is sufficiently saturated, he creates a line of gas, moving backwards toward the front door. 

He lights the match and with a flick of his wrist tosses it onto to the gasoline. With a whoosh, the fire ignites the fuel and quickly snakes along the floor, fiery tentacles reaching into every crevice as it travels through the room. Embers scatter into the air like miniature red bulbs, and slowly float to the ground where they leave tiny black imprints. It's not long before the house is engulfed and he reluctantly turns and walks into the night.

His heart thunders and blood pulses through his veins at alarming speeds as he heads towards the boardwalk at the end of the property. He glances back to see crimson flames reach out from the blown up windows to wrap the house in their fiery embrace. He marvels at the crimson glow that lights up the sky. The fire is so intense, he can feel the heat on his face. 

Sitting cross-legged, he takes one last drag from his cigarette. The hazy cloud now shifts with the wind to meet the thick black smoke behind him.

Learn how you can participate in one of our Write-Prompt Flash Fiction Contests HERE

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  1. Great piece, Vivian! You really get into the head of this fire bug.

  2. Such a complex and frightening obsession depicted through this character. I love how every writer comes up with a different imagined story to the image provided. Vivian did a great job!
    Geraldine MacDonald

  3. Thank you for your comments Geraldine! Glad you liked my piece!


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