The Fire

   Dream Journal

I AM AT AN ADVENTURE ATTRACTION. I find myself on the top floor of a high industrial building. I am given a small orange pouch containing survival items and told to get on a makeshift elevator. The “elevator” consists of a wooden board suspended on chains. I hesitate. It doesn’t look safe.

I have my car with me. It is a tiny red car, as small as a child’s ride-on toy. I am told to put my “car” on the elevator. I refuse. I say it’s too light to survive the drop. “It’s not like a Mini Cooper,” I say, “they weigh a tonne!”

My mum is with me. She agrees to get on the elevator. It descends to one of the floors below. I hear her screaming as the elevator drops, but she’s okay. I follow and find myself in a large open room with steel girders and exposed brickwork. The “attraction”, it turns out, is just going up and down on the scary elevator all day.

The day ends and I’m looking out over the city. My mum stands next to me and says, “Rotherham looks nice.” 

A member of staff says, “We’re not in Rotherham. We’re in Twin Hills, with a TH postcode.” 

I ask if I can keep my orange pouch. The staff member says “No, you have to return it to reception as you leave.” I offer to pay for it. He says “Okay, give me £15, but don’t tell anyone.” My mum—who has morphed into my ex-wife—wants to keep her pouch too. She hands me three £10 notes from her purse. We pay the man and leave. 

The next day, I am at my job at Gamston Airport. I am in an aircraft hangar with my engineer friend, John Swain. I have a large orange bag slung over my shoulder. I notice burning tea lights placed all over the floor. “That’s unsafe,” I think to myself.

There is a new aircraft parked in the hangar for us to work on. John hasn’t managed to find the flight records yet so I climb up onto a wing and take a look in the cockpit. I find the aircraft log book and get down just as the owner arrives. I place the book on one of the rear horizontal stabilisers. At the exact same moment, the owner jumps up on the wing to access the cockpit. The entire aircraft shifts backwards on its wheels. I call out to John, “It’s moving!” Too late! The aircraft rolls into another nearby plane.

Fuel spills out of the damaged aeroplanes onto the tea lights. A fire starts and John runs for an extinguisher. Meanwhile I place my orange bag on the ground and start stamping on the flames. The flames quickly take hold and I lose my sense of direction in the smoke. I barely make it out alive. My clothes are on fire and my face is badly burned. I roll on the ground to put the flames out. I look around and see the entire hangar is now alight. Lots of aircraft are burning and it’s clear there is nothing I can do to stop the fire.

I find John in the wreckage. He’s badly burned. Emergency services arrive. John is put on a stretcher. The whole airfield is on fire now. The airport owner, Tony Budge, arrives to check on his personal aeroplane. It’s okay. News reporters turn up and start interviewing people. They want to know how the fire began. I suddenly notice John has gone. I run around the airport looking for him. I see him at a distance being put into an ambulance. I run towards the ambulance but it speeds off before I can reach it.

I stumble around in a daze taking photos of burning aircraft with my phone. “Is anyone dead?” I call out. “Yes,” someone shouts back through the smoke, “Kevin.” I’m worried the aircraft that started the fire might have rolled back, not because the owner jumped up on the wing, but because I placed the log book on the rear stabiliser. What if I’m responsible for John getting burned and Kevin dying? Not to mention the destruction of so many expensive aeroplanes.

Time passes. John survives his burns and is let out of hospital. It’s his first day back at work since the fire. He’s working on a small blue aircraft. I go over to see how he is. As I rest my hands on the plane it rolls over and fuel spills out onto a tea light again. It immediately catches fire. This time I manage to put the flames out, but I tell John we need to stop using tea lights in the hangar.

John says he has a surveillance video of the day of the fire. We go into the adjoining hangar and watch it together. It shows it was the owner that caused the plane to roll back, not me. I’m relieved not to have Kevin’s death on my conscience. We walk back to the main hangar. I notice a large blue Arabian carpet in the centre of the space. There are hundreds of tea lights burning to memorialize Kevin’s death. 

I see a black woman standing a few feet away from me. “It’s turning out time,” she says.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“It means you have to make your bed,” she replies and points to my office.

I walk towards my office expecting to see an unmade bed, but when I get there I see my employer has bought me a new desk.