The Burn

The dry brown grass was perfect tinder for the fire that swept in from the trees; blown in great billowing gouts from the flaming pines, like prancing burning wildebeest trampling the broad plain down to dusty ash. Until it reached the edge of the woods the fire had moved at a snail's pace, devouring the damp and sap-filled trees with the slow appetite of an overfull diner, its bib stained with the leavings of a prior gorging, come loose from where it had been tucked behind a belt buckle that strained to contain a grotesque girth.

And still no water fell on the flames. There came no heroic attempt to douse the destruction. Even the skies were indifferent, despite the ever-growing column of thick black smoke that rose to stain its deep blue face. No other clouds were in evidence as it hadn't rained in that part of the land since early spring, and now it was deep summer. With the dead grasses of the plains accelerating the blaze, it wouldn't be long before the scorching front rolled through the streets of Meylene.

Until then it would cleanse the land, preparing a bed for the next generation of growth. It was natural; this was part of the cycle. The trees and grasses didn't have stockpiles of memory-linked objects carefully stored and arranged in private dwellings. There were no tears shed for the blades and barks that burned without discrimination. The weeping wouldn't start until the fire touched human things, and then there would be a flood.


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