Prompt for August 21, 2016

Complete the short story/flash fiction, that has the following opening:

I woke to a grey dawn.

Ash covered the tarp that I had draped across the boat last night, desperate to survive the firestorm. The small boat had been just floating in the lake as I ran from the firestorm and it had seemed like the only lifeline that I would ever get. I pushed off into the lake, got the tarp wet and covered as much of the boat as I could, hoping that no stray sparks would land on dry wood.

I watched as the fire engulfed the cabin and the dock and then sat in amazement as the speed with which it moved seemed to increase so that in mere minutes the entire shoreline was burning. As I would have been too if the boat had not been there. Fingers of destruction reached into the sky as if trying to burn the very sky itself. The sound, the roar of burning wood, filled my ears and smothered all other sounds. Even though I was hundreds of feet from the fire it scorched my skin. I hunkered down in the boat, shielding my face and body with the hull of the boat, and waited for armageddon to pass me by.

I must have fallen asleep. Considering that I had been running from the fire for almost twenty-four hours straight I guess that was reasonable, but I would have thought that the fear of burning to death in the middle of a lake would have kept me awake. A reasonable assumption, but wrong.

When I awoke, however, the sun was but a shiny disk in the sky trying to peer through the layers of cloud and ash. The wind was still fairly strong and the clouds of ash were swirling through the air like demons on their quest for destruction. A layer of ash covered the boat and I shook it off gently as I sat up. A few tendrils of fire still licked at the trees and spirals of smoke climbed into the sky from smoldering heaps of fuel, but by and large, the landscape was blackened and foreboding. Once magnificent trees were replaced with blackened stumps and the canopy of green that covered the forest was now a cloud of ash settling on everything. The only movement was ash and smoke and flame. The silence was more frightening than the roar of the fire last night. This charred landscape was dead.

I was reaching for the paddle, intent on heading to shore to find my way out of this hell on earth when a sound came to my ears and I froze. In this quiet world of death the sound stood out like a beacon and I looked for it with the need of someone trying to find a rope to hang on to, something to anchor me to a world in which I didn’t belong. I scanned the shoreline, looking for something that didn’t belong in this grey world and I quickly found it. Pink and blue stood out from the grey ash as it staggered along the shoreline.

I paddled for the shore as if the hounds of hell were after me.

Post a link to the story in the comments.

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