"The Doctor" by Kaleena Wong
Fleur gasped for air. Her heart pumped sporadically and she could barely turn her head without feeling winded. Legs limp and failing her every step, she stumbled into the bathroom and pushed herself far up against the wall, hiding from the tall hooded figure resembling a plague doctor. It was covered head to toe in fabric, pointed beak sprouting from its head, and jet black robes weighing into the ground. She could hear its talons scraping the decaying walls, slowly burning into embers.
The bathroom wall was steadily burning her back, dripping hot cement, like the melting of an ice cream cone, during a hot summer day. She couldn’t help but let out a quiet whimper. The scraping stopped and she sat for a moment until she turned around. In front of her stood the beast, its face an inch away. “Fleur…” it started.
Eyes shooting open, Fleur looked around her bedroom, heart still racing. Her skin felt sticky, her underarms sweaty, and her forehead burning. I must have a fever. As she sat upright, she touched her bare feet to the ground and flinched. The floor was exhausting hot smoke, blurring the carpet into moving ripples. Was this a dream? She quickly ran to her closet and shoved her sneakers onto her feet hastily. Her eyes gazed over to the curtains of her window. She walked slowly, careful of her step, and opened the drapes.
Outside, everything appeared normal. Her car was still parked in the driveway and she saw Mrs. Elmer’s kids playing in a kiddie pool. Fleur gave a confused look and made her way towards the living room, careful not to touch the sizzling walls. The entire hallway, pictures, and stucco were peeling off from their foundation, and the floor was still emanating an incredible concentration of heat. It smelled like smoke, without the presence of smoke.
Once she reached the living room, her eyes fell towards the floor. A body she knew to be her father, because of a signifying cross necklace, was burnt to the bone. Fleur’s hand went to her mouth and salty tears streamed down her face. Her nose started to dribble and she would’ve stayed longer until she hears a noise. Like déjà vu, it was familiar to her. It was unpleasant and startling, like nails on a chalkboard.
Her head swiveled to the back of the house and she saw what could only be from a dream. The plague doctor faced her, with an inanimate stance. Fleur was too angry to have any fear.
“What did you do to him?!”
A silent stare was its response. She walked closer, shaking, but unafraid.
“Did you hear me? Why are you here? Why are you doing this?”
Nothing. She had now stopped an inch away from its face and, shaking, reached her hand towards its mask. In one swift movement, she tore the beak from its owner. Beneath, there were physical flames. No head, just flames.
She yelped and evaporated into dust.
*This story is an analogy towards climate change and how we were given warning signs to help prevent it. From the outside, it appears normal and unaffected, but not until we experience the devastation do we want to act.*