Excerpt from Creaex Flex
by Desmond Ugoji
“I don’t want any trouble at all.” I slowly brought my hands to the air and gave him my most innocent smile. “Relax,” I told him and myself.
It was a bright sunny day, perfect for a stroll.
The enormous trees of the forest surrounded us
and I remembered passing by a dazzling pond.
Of course, I would have loved to have taken full
advantage of this beautiful day but with the patch of
grass still on fire next to me, and a very unstable man
with his hands ignited with fire in front of me,
it was impossible to do.
His skin was similar to mine, a coconut-colored brown. He had short, black hair that was cut in a mohawk and a sharp nose. He wore a black hoodie with ripped jeans, which looked more like this guy made the holes himself because they looked like the size of melons, and he finished the look with some grey, leather boots. I didn’t really know his name or why he was throwing fireballs at me. I was just walking casually through the forest till he started yelling.
“Don’t try to hide it! I know who you are” he growled as he launched a barrage of fireballs. I shifted my body to the right to avoid one to the arm. I turned around and sprinted away from more fireballs heading my way.
It had been a couple of months since I’d run anywhere close to as fast as right now. I’d been told that my speed put a cheetah’s to shame and since Primary 2, I’d been in a bunch of statewide races, winning gold in the 100 meters, the 1 mile, and the infamous 400 meters where, as a 14-year-old, I completed it in 10.7 seconds. I scurried up a short tree and lifted myself onto a long, sturdy branch. I leaned toward the bole of the tree and grabbed my heart. I haven’t run for at least fifteen seconds but I was already covered in sweat and my breathing was out of whack.
I took out a small photo from my pocket of me and Leeb when we were eleven or twelve. I sighed in relief. “Good, the picture is safe.”
Because of the flash from the camera, I was frowning while my left hand covered both my eyes. In contrast, Leeb was smiling widely as he always did. I put the photo back in my pocket and jumped down from the tree. I didn’t see any more fireballs so I thought it was safe, more or less. I’d love nothing more than to continue sprinting away but I left my bag back there.
How am I gonna get my bag with that homicidal lunat—?
“Found ya!” The crazy guy hollered. Around twenty feet in front of me, he stopped at a dime, and in his right hand, he held a fireball the size of a bicycle wheel. It looked just like a spitting image of the sun if it were smaller and way less bright.
He took the stance of a major league pitcher and gave me a bitter stare.
I put my hands on my knees to stop them from trembling. It’s like being held at gunpoint. I could either run or be a hero and fight. Of course, running is always my first option but I couldn’t afford to lose my bag.
I sweated ferociously, so much that it stained my green sweatshirt and my grey sweatpants. A bird flew near the Fire Man and immediately combusted into a fire. I still heard the rapid pounding of my heart despite the loud cackles of the miniature sun. Suddenly, one by one, trees combusted as well.
I’m used to heat, heck, I used to light stuff on fire when it was like 110 degrees. But when I tell you the heat the miniature sun was emitting, it was like living on the sun with another sun blasting a heat ray. It got hotter and hotter as more and more trees and birds combusted, and his miniature sun increased to the size of a truck tire.
He finished his pitch by chucking the bigger miniature
sun straight at me, and, in half a second, my feet moved
before my brain could think. I sprinted toward the miniature
sun. Now I had one option left and that was to use my own
creaex. As I got closer to the miniature sun, my clothes
cemented onto my simmering skin, and my right boot
combusted on fire. I couldn’t breathe. At this point, it couldn’t be called sweating anymore; I was melting, dripping, possibly evaporating, and anything else ice cream did on a hot day. In a matter of seconds, I stood a few feet away from the miniature sun, showing why having speed can be considered both a blessing and a curse. I saw its ugly, fiery face. I also saw that if I messed up my estimation on the spacing between me and this giant fireball, if I missed one single second and if I overestimated how much heat my body can take, I will die painfully.
“Die,” he snarled.
I slid my hand to my butt and a thick, green tail, a couple of inches taller than me, appeared. At the base, it started a couple of inches wide and as it curved up it got wider and wider. Leeb used to tell me all the time that it looked like a green chili pepper from his grandma’s garden, which when I thought about it, was a really good comparison.
I pivoted 360 degrees and with an immense swipe of my tail, the miniature sun instantly dispersed, leaving only fragments of cinders.
To be quite frank, I didn’t know what to expect. I was just as surprised as the guy who threw the fireball. He was frozen stiff as a board and his eyes were wide, bitterly staring at me. I gave him a stare of my own that lasted a couple of seconds, just to show him he ain’t as tough as he thought.
I exploded off my left leg and ran straight toward him at top speed. He tripped over himself and closed his eyes, probably thinking, I’m gonna get my head popped off, and he’d be exactly right. I leapfrogged over him instead and continued running because I was on fire.
“Hot! Hot! Fire! Fire!” I screeched. I patted down my shirt and pants. I didn’t feel anything but heat. Just the thought that I could be engulfed in a fire had me shook. I ran frantically to the pond I walked by earlier. My tail wobbled up and down and, as usual, the tail felt a little uncomfortable and threw off my balance. But after a couple of seconds, I got used to it.
“Ahh—” I was about to scream till I remembered that fire had smoke, and smoke was a big no-no to the lungs. So I held my breath and continued running.
After about a minute or so, I spotted the large pond about twenty feet away. Just seeing it made me run faster. I’m not usually the religious type but I could only thank the Almighty up in the sky because I did not think I was going to find it, especially in such a small amount of time.
I made it to a small beach and I felt the sand on the sole of my right foot, which was weird because my boot was supposed to be there, but I can solve that mystery another time. As I was at least eight feet away from water, I belly flopped into it and created a huge splash that scared some fish. The water immediately extinguished the fire. I’d never been so thankful for water. I couldn’t care less if the water was contaminated or had sharks.
I floated on my back and swiped my tail through the water like it was a paddle. I drifted farther and farther away from the coast. I picked up my head and smelled a toxic scent of smoke coming from the forest. It burned fiercely.
Wow. I thought it was just a saying, but fire did spread quickly.
I don’t know how to feel about the forest burning. I was happy that I was not in the forest anymore, but I kinda felt bad for the trees that the animals used as their homes. And the burning forest, in a way, looked as if it was painted on a portrait.
I looked at my favorite green sweatshirt that I knitted myself. The sleeves were burned off of my shoulder so it looked less like a sweatshirt and more like a tank top. I looked at my grey sweatpants and from the height of my knee to my ankle, it burned off and turned into shorts. I looked at my black fleece boot that I had also knitted as well. The sole of my left boot disappeared and my right boot was completely gone, probably somewhere in the burning forest. The sole of my right foot and toes could’ve been seen through a huge hole in my sock. I lifted my arms over my head and inspected them. I sighed in relief.
“Ok, good. Only blisters.”
I grabbed my chest. It felt like it’s on fire. But that’s nothing my good ol’ inhaler pump couldn’t fi—, I covered my face with the palms of my hands.
“Crap. I forgot my bag.” I take my palms off my face. “I forgot my bag!” I cringed. I forgot! I forgot! I forgot!” What the heck?”