Chaos surrounded the area, but that didn’t stop me from hearing the screams of a familiar voice.
“My baby. Where’s my baby?” Mrs. Kent screamed as she looked around the area.
“Mrs. Kent. Where’s Olivia?” I ran over to her and shouted as I gripped her shoulders.
She stood there in shock, blankly staring at me while tears flooded down her face.
“I just ran to the corner store. I was only gone for ten minutes.”
“Mrs. Kent, is Olivia still in the apartment?” I shouted.
“Yes!” she screamed.
I grabbed my axe, ran inside the building and up six flights of stairs. Dense smoke infiltrated the air, keeping visibility low. Kicking in the door to apartment 6C, I screamed for Olivia as I ran down the narrow hallway.
“I’m in here.” I heard a voice coming from the door on the left.
Opening it, I found her crouched in the corner.
“Mason, is that you?”
“Yeah, kid.” I smiled as I bent down. “Let’s get you out of here. Your Mom is waiting for you outside.”
“I’m too scared to move.”
“I know, Olivia, but I’ll protect you.”
I grabbed the small towel sitting on her nightstand and had her cover her nose and mouth. Picking her up, her arms wrapped tightly around my neck. As I stepped out the door and into the hallway, flames engulfed the area around us, and the ceiling began to collapse.
“Captain, are you there?” I heard Bobbie’s voice over the radio.
“Bobbie, I’m on the sixth floor and the ceiling is collapsing. I can’t get to the stairs. We’re trapped in here.”
I took Olivia back inside the apartment as my mind raced. Looking straight ahead at the window, it was the only option I had.
“Mason, get the hell out of there now,” Bobbie said.
“Get the air cushion ready. The only option I have is through the window. I repeat, get the air cushion ready now.”
“We can bring the ladder as close to the building as possible,” Bobbie spoke.
“There’s no time. The ceiling is about to collapse inside the apartment. Get the air cushion ready now. That’s an order.”
I set Olivia down, and she refused to let go of me.
“Olivia, I need you to listen. Keep the towel over your face. I need to break the window.”
“No.” Her eyes widened as she shook her head. “No.”
“We don’t have a choice. I need you to trust me.”
Particles fell from the ceiling as the cracking sounds alerted me there was no more time to waste.
“Bobbie, I’m breaking the window. Is that cushion ready?”
Taking my axe, I swung it at the glass as it shattered, and the noise of the cracking ceiling heightened.
“Captain, the air cushion is in place and ready. Get the hell out of there now!”
Grabbing a blanket from the couch, I wrapped it around Olivia and picked her up.
“Time to go, kid. Close your eyes as tight as you can and don’t let go of me. I’ve got you.”
Holding her securely in my arms, the ceiling collapsed, and flames engulfed the apartment as I jumped out the window with a ten-year-old girl in my arms. The moment we hit the air cushion, rescue teams came running over as did Olivia’s mother.
“You saved my daughter. Thank you, Mason.” Tears flowed down her face as she hugged Olivia tight.
“You okay?” Bobbie asked as he helped me up.
“Uh, you might not be in a minute.” He laughed as he patted my shoulder.
I took off my helmet as I saw Nathan and my mother run towards me.
“Mason Matthew Wolfe!” she scolded as she gripped my arms. “Are you crazy?”
“Bro, that was outstanding!” Nathan grinned.
“Mom, what are you doing here?”
“We were on our way back from dinner when we saw the building fire. I nearly had a heart attack.”
“Yeah.” I sighed as I turned around and looked at my building, knowing everything I owned was engulfed in flames.
“You’ll stay with me,” my mom said as she placed her hand on my cheek. “And we will have a little talk about finding you another job.”
“Mom, Mason will stay with me and Allison. We have some brotherly catching up to do. He’s fine. Let him do his job. You can grill him about his heroic adventures another time.” He hooked his arm around her.
“Thank you.” I mouthed.
He gave me a thumbs up as he led her back to the cab. Walking over to where Olivia was being examined in the back of an ambulance, I took hold of her hand.
“You okay?” I asked with a smile.
“I’m okay. They’re taking me to the hospital for a checkup. I get to ride in the back of this ambulance.” Her eyes lit up.
“Cool, Olivia.” I held my hand up for a high five.
“Thanks, Mason. Thanks for saving me. I didn’t think we would get out.”
“Nah.” I waved my hand. “I always get out.” I gave her a wink. “Do you have somewhere you and Olivia can go?” I asked Mrs. Kent.
“I called my sister and she’s meeting us at the hospital. How did this happen?”
“I don’t know yet, but I will find out.”
As I was standing in the shower, the only thing I could think about was how everything I owned was gone. The only possessions I had were packed in the bag I kept at the station. As I stepped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around my waist, Bobbie walked in.
“Your brother is here to see you.”
“Elijah. He’s waiting for you in the kitchen.”
“Tell him I’ll be right out.”
Throwing on some clothes, I walked to the kitchen.
“You okay?” Elijah smiled as he lightly hugged me.
“I’m fine. Let me guess, Mom called you?”
“Actually, Nathan called. He told me you jumped out of a six-story window with a child, Mom saw, and now she’s freaking the fuck out on him.”
“Of all the fires she had to be at.” I shook my head as I grabbed two beers from the fridge and handed him one.
“She’ll get over it. You’re staying with Nathan until you find another place?”
“Yeah. Mom wanted me to stay with her.”
“Ouch. Not a good idea. She’d have you chained to the house to keep you from coming to work.” He smirked.
“No shit.” I let out a sigh.
“Thanks for the beer. I better get going. I just wanted to come by and make sure you were okay.”
“Thanks, bro. I appreciate it.” I gave him a hug.
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