Chapter Two

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The door swung open as my body hit the floor. Flames burst up from doorway and started to climb their way up the walls of the building, edging their way along the walls of the hallway. I glanced down at my left arm, seeing the now red skin blister and bubble after its exposure to the flames. Cradling my arm to my chest, I used my right arm to push myself back along the hallway, moving away from the flames as they continued to lick their way up the wall. Smoke started to fill the hallway, a thick, black smoke that grew heavier and heavier. My lungs were burning, my arm was sore from taking my body weight.

As I shuffled back down the hallway, the smoke started to choke me, my lungs tightened, and I couldn't stop the cough that tore through my throat, causing that to burn also. The smoke was suffocating me. With the smoke filling my lungs, I started to feel a little faint, the dark hallway now illuminated with flames began to spin. I pulled my left arm tighter against my chest and used what little strength I had left to drag my way through the hallway until I reached the privy. Shuffling back into the small room, I used my foot to close the door in front of me, hoping it would, in some way, block the flames from reaching me.

I pressed my back against the door, taking a deep breath as I tried to clean my lungs from the smoke that had infected them so heavily. My left arm had turned a deep red, the skin blistering, but I didn't feel the pain I thought I would. It was as though my arm had gone completely numb, the fire having done more damage than was visible. I flexed my fingers out, finding it difficult because of the burns that wrapped themselves around my fingers, stopping shy of my palm. When the door had flung open, my first instinct was to put my arm across my face to stop it betting burnt, but my arm had received the damage in the process.

"Rosie? You there?" a voice called from the hallway. There was no doubt in my mind that they had seen the smoke in the factory. The foreman was going to enjoy punishing me for it.

"I'm in here!" I replied, struggling to yell because of the burning sensation in my throat.

"Come away from the door, the fire might flash through when I open it."

"Okay."

I pushed myself away from the door and towards the chamber pot in the corner of the room. The thick smoke started pouring under the door, filling the room with a smoky haze that made it almost impossible to see. Through the gap under the door, I could see the orange flickering light of the fire as it ebbed its way down the darkened corridor. With my free hand, I pulled the front of my dress up over my mouth, to stop any more smoke from making its way into my lungs. I took several deep breaths, trying to clear the smoke from my lungs.

Huddled up in the corner of the room, my eyes fixated on the door, I waited for whoever was on the other side to come through and help me. I made myself smaller against the wall, shielding myself from the flames that licked through the top of the doorframe and threatened to spread to the little room. The cloth from my dress did little to shield me from the smoke as it continued to pour under the door in a cloud that started to fill the room. There was little I could do to shield myself from the smoke or the heat that felt as though it was suffocating me. The smoke and the heat combined and started to choke me, constricting my lungs and causing my breathing to become more ragged and unsteady.

My eyes stung from the smoke, beads of sweat trickled down my forehead and landed on the burnt skin of my arm. The skin appeared to have sizzled from the sweat, like a fire when you pour water on it. I didn't want to acknowledge that the skin had become so hot it was turning liquid to steam, nor did I think it was possible. I put it down to the smoke playing with my mind, making me see and hear things that weren't there.

With my knees pulled into my chest my mouth and nose covered by the thin cloth of my dress, I waited for my savour to knock through the door, only they were taking their time. I began to wonder if I had imagined it if my savour really existed. If the smoke and had me see things that weren't there, then had it caused me to create a person as well? Create someone I wished would come to my aid and pull me away from the fire? It was possible, but I sat tight and hoped, prayed for someone to knock down the door.

The Factory Girl // Book 1 in the Rosie Grey seriesWhere stories live. Discover now