Chapter 20

My eyes flew open and I could hear Fred talking to me.  What did he mean?  The room wasn’t even smoky and there was no alarm…

      BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP

Oh…there it was.  Gosh that’s loud.  I’m always shocked how loud the alarm is.

Now there was enough smoke so I could smell it.  I shrugged on my slippers as I walked after Fred down my hallway and out the door into the apartment hall.  No one else was out there.

“This way,” said Fred.  He was leading me toward a foggy light at the end of the hall.  WTF…had I really died?  Was this the “light” that everyone keeps talking about when they die?

No, no of course not, I told myself.  It’s just the apartment emergency light.  WAKE UP TOBEY!!! I shouted to myself and shook my head and blinked my eyes.  There was a lot more smoke now.

Then I pulled back…

“Wait.  Where is Emma?  Do you have her?”  I hollered ahead to Fred.  Now I couldn’t see him very well.  The alarm was so much louder in the hallway, I could hardly hear my own voice.

“She’ll be fine, Tobey.  You have to leave now.”  His touch was more insistent but he wasn’t grabbing me.

“No!  I can’t leave Emma.  I’m going back Fred!”

I turned away and felt his touch on my arm disappear and I slowly made my way back down the now smoke-filled hallway until the red  from the EXIT sign showed I was at my door.  It hadn’t locked when I had closed it.

“Thanks God!!” I said out loud.

I pushed the door open and quickly closed it, making sure that Emma had not run out into the hall.

I knew where that little squirt would be…under my bed…where she always went when that dratted alarm went off.

The smoke was getting thicker.  I ran into my room coughing.  I shut the door in case Emma tried to slip out.

I clapped for my light to go on.  It did.  But then all the lights went out!