Blazing Lunatic

Nini Crannell, Co-editor

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It had been three days now, and Paul still did not know where he was, had not seen any other signs of life, and definitely had not gained any more cell service than he had when he woke up. He wandered around in a miserable pout, so confused he couldn’t even pity himself.

Finally Paul collapsed into a lump on the ground, sighed a tremendous sigh, and prepared for death. But behind his closed eyes he thought he saw some strange light, and so he opened them again to find a very pink young woman standing over him.

“It’s you!!” he yelled in delight. “Well- I mean- it’s… you’re here! I haven’t seen another human being in days!”

“How unfortunate,” she said. “I’m not who you think I am.”

“Wh-what? Oh, no! Ha! It’s not that I think that I know you, I just got excited…”

“Well, I have some bad news to follow that up with. You have not stumbled upon ‘another human being’ at all. You’ve stumbled upon me. Esmerelda.” She stuck out one white-gloved hand for shaking.

“What do you mean you’re not… Oh god, I’ve gone mad, haven’t I? Just great. This is just what I need right now.”

Suddenly Paul felt ten times lonelier. No one was there to even confirm that he had gone completely batty. And he wished they were there! Telling him what to do and judging his every choice. He missed that. He truly longed for it.

“I take offense at that,” said Esmerelda. “But I’m going to let it go on the assumption that you’re very stupid.”

“What? Well that seems a bit drastic now, doesn’t it? Ah, no, it doesn’t matter. You’re just me, but very sparkly. How dare I insult myself that way!” he said, erupting into exhaustion-induced laughter, which lasted much too long.

Esmerelda did not seem amused. “Very funny. Now, if you want my help, you should probably build yourself a fire so I don’t think you’re utterly useless.”

“Woah woah woah, a fire?” he laughed again. “I’ve never built a fire in my life! Why would I suggest that… man I’ve really lost it…”

“Come on, it’s not like it takes talent to throw together a simple fire. You even have a lighter!”

“Alright, whatever you say, ‘lady’.”

After several minutes of frustration, Paul chucked the lighter at the ground. “Alright, if you’re so smart, why don’t you just build one yourself?!”

“But I’m not real, right? That’s what you’ve been implying.”

Paul rolled his eyes. “Alright, fine, you’re real. And even if you aren’t, man, where are my manners anyways? I ought to at least treat a figment of my own imagination with some respect,” he actually tried to contain himself this time, but in the end he just howled with laughter even louder than before.

“You want to play like this? Fine. But you’re going to be sorry when it snows tonight.”

“When it… wait, what? Woah… Hey where are you going?”

But she was gone, and night fell faster than Paul thought possible.

He sat crouched in a ball, angry at the snow that was now steadily falling. It wasn’t long before his hands became frost bitten and his face numb. He tried again to get a fire started, but it was even more hopeless than before.

As he curled into himself on the ground he saw a figure approaching from a distance. He called out her name, but his call was weak.

When she finally reached him, he begged. “Please, Esmerelda, please light a fire for me. I will never doubt you again. I promise.” His teeth chattered.

Esmerelda picked up the lighter and flicked it into life. She bent over and set Paul’s right shoe ablaze.

“If you build a man a fire, he’ll be warm for a night. But if you set a man on fire, he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.”

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