She picked up her shovel and brandished it at me, her stooped body tense. Her milky eyes glowed with hell fire.
I ran to my car and drove home where I locked the door and collapsed on the sofa. I was so relieved it was over. On the coffee table, I noticed my homework and I remembered my botched quiz. Picking up my books, I chose to study at the kitchen table when I heard a noise from the living room.
It sounded like a ball bearing squealing against metal.
With a feeling of dread, I slowly leaned back in my chair and peered into the living room. The pearl was back, hovering over the ash tray.
"Oh no," I said.
I ran into the kitchen and grabbed it. If the crazy woman realized it was missing she would have a fit. I thought about taking it back to the lawn, but the woman might think I took it and then what? There was no easy answer. I slipped the pearl into my pocket until I could think of something else to do.
That night, the pearl would only be quiet in my hand. I dreamed about the fire and being carried to the front lawn by the fireman. This time, I noticed more details about him. Ash fluttered like snow to the ground around him. His tattoos of fire stood out like blood against his skin.
A gray color passed over the grass much like it had during the eclipse. The skulls pushed up from the ground. The air stank of rot. A skull near the fireman turned over. The pearl rolled out. He picked it up and handed it to me.
I woke with a frightful start. The pearl rolled to the floor and ricocheted off a shoe, heading under the bed. Getting out of bed, I turned on the light and tried to find it, but it had gone into the nether regions of storage boxes. Suddenly, I heard a noise in the front room. Afraid, I peered into the hallway. The crazy woman was coming toward me, brandishing her shovel.
"Where is it?" she cried. "You took it from me."
Before I had the chance to say it was under the bed, she swung the shovel at me. I ducked. The blade missed my head. I rushed her, pushing her out the bedroom door and locking it. She rained a fury of blows against the wood.
"This will be you if you have the pearl," she yelled.
As suddenly as she appeared, she stopped. I listened through the door. Silence. Slowly, I opened the door a crack, ready to slam it shut. She was gone. Keeping the door locked, I retrieved the pearl from beneath the bed. I didn't sleep the rest of the night.
By the morning, I knew I needed answers. The only clue I had was the fireman. I tried calling the fire department, but they knew nothing about a fireman with the number 134. Unconvinced, I drove past the fire station to see if anyone resembled him. I saw several middle-aged men. Not one of them had tattoos or wore tight ass black jeans.
I tried hard to remember what he really looked like. I couldn't. In an effort to jog my memory, I drove to the sight of the fire. The building was gone. The only thing that remained were the lilac bushes by the drive and the landlord's shed. I hadn't been here since it happened. I parked and got out. The pearl was in my pocket. As I walked the grounds, none of the memories of the fireman returned. All I could see in my mind's eye was the fireman from my dreams.
About ready to give up, I turned to go back to the car when I heard rock music coming from behind the landlord's shed. I went back to investigate. Behind the shed, a man sat on a lawn chair, a transistor radio beside him. It was no ordinary man. It was the fireman.