Burning Building - A Short Story

Burning Building - A Short Story

A Story by Amateur Ava

The building is burning down, and I am surrounded by sleeping bodies. But what can I do if they won't wake up?


This can’t be real.

I wake up in a dim, chilled room, surrounded by people. My friends, my family, and complete strangers, all laying on mats on the floor. The room is wide-open, like a large office, but, instead of desks and chairs, there are people laying like kindergarteners at naptime. I see my mother laying completely still, as if strapped down by invisible chains. I look out at those neighboring me, with their emotionless faces. It’s odd that they are all sleeping.

I try to wake them. I start with my friends and family, then anyone around me. I try speaking softly, then soft nudges, then clapping loudly in their ears, but no one so much as stirs. It seems their sleep is too deep.

I look around for others already awake and happen upon some far off in the distance. Relief rushes through my veins as I take what feels like my first breath since I woke up. I wave and call to them and receive the same in return. They seem friendly and not as worried as I am feeling in this strange place, which is reassuring.

They yell to me words of encouragement. They say, “if we woke up, it’s only a matter of time before they all do!” I think, “they’re right. They all just need time to sleep, then they’ll wake up on their own.”  So we wait.

We wait, but I start to think. I start to worry. I start to wonder, what is going on? Why are we all here in this building. Then, I start to panic. I see smoke. I smell fire. The building is on fire!

I run to my loved ones. I am yelling, “wake up! We have to go! The building! We have to leave while we still can!” But they do not stir.

I decide to focus on them one at a time. I move to my sister, who was always a lighter sleeper. I shake her slender frame, desperately. I am pleading with her to wake up. To open her eyes. To even scrunch up her face. But just like when I tried to wake her before, there’s not a sign of her consciousness. She is deep in her slumber.

Now, I have a thought. Are they really sleeping? Could it be, they will never wake up?

The smoke fills my lungs, and the panic makes it so I cannot breathe. Tears fill my eyes as I wonder, should I leave the building all alone? Is there anything I can do to help everyone? Certainly, they will not survive the fire, but I can’t take them all with me on my back. The weight is too much for one person.

I hear a door open and catch sight of several people fleeing. I look back to the others still here and awake, but it seems they are as directionless as I am. I see them grabbing their loved ones, trying to lift them onto their shoulders.

One girl is crying at her husband’s side. She is thin and on the older side while he is broad-shouldered and heavy-set. She knows she cannot lift him. If she could just wake him, at least a little, she could help walk him out. But as he is, she could barely move his torso. She’s holding so tightly to his hand that hers are turning white, and the desperation in her eyes makes me look away.

My tears are coming from so many things: the smoke, a sense of hopelessness, the fear of dying, the fear of surviving while my loved ones don’t. I feel responsible for their lives because I am awake. I have to save them. I rush to a window. We are too high up to jump, and I don’t see any fire trucks or police lights. No one is coming to help, and I am starting to faint. I am faced with a choice I am not ready to make: leave alone or die trying to save others. At this moment, I am frozen with indecision.

This has to be a dream. Maybe I am the one that’s sleeping. I just don’t know. But the fire is roaring, and I am crying, and I am alone. 

© 2023 Amateur Ava

Author's Note

Amateur Ava
Thanks for reading my story! I hope it made you think or feel something.
Be the change <3

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Added on June 25, 2023
Last Updated on June 25, 2023
Tags: short story, symbolism, awareness, wake up, warning, helping others, fear, indecision, hopelessness, family