4. The attack

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Once at home, my parents treated me like the queen, which bothered me even more. I kept waiting for punishment of some kind – how could everyone think this wasn't my fault? If it weren't for me, that man would still be alive. My parents had learned from the police that the man who had died – the man I had killed – was a single man with no kids. That was some consolation, at least I hadn't taken someone's father away. But it had been someone's son, and maybe someone's brother. Someone's friend.

I spent much of my days like this, moping around, feeling horrible. I had very little to do at my parents' house, since all my stuff was in my dorm room. I longed for my bed there, and for my books. Sometimes I even longed for my stupid roommate Casey, because her endless talking would at least distract me from my thoughts. My parents kept tiptoeing around me, scared to set me off. They were perfectly nice and sweet, cooking all my favorite meals and they didn't complain when I just watched movies in bed all day. But they didn't understand how I was feeling. Everything just felt like one big, black hole. And there was the thing with the burn marks on the chair: how in the hell had those gotten there? They were probably already there before, but that didn't explain the weird smell of burning wood that had filled the room. But maybe I had been imagining it. My mind was probably playing tricks on me, after going through that state of shock before. I decided to put it out of my mind, I had enough to deal with right now.  I kept begging my parents to let me go back to college, to let me go one with my life, just so I got get away from their understanding gaze. Finally, after two weeks, they let me.

As expected, the first night in my own dorm room was horrible. Casey was away on a trip with her rich boyfriend, and I was alone in my bed with my racing mind. But at least my parents couldn't constantly tell me here how sorry they were. Suddenly I heard a sound outside my window. My room was on the ground floor, so it was not unusual for someone to walk past the window, but it was a quiet street and normally there weren't many people out at this hour. Suddenly a louder sound came directly from my window: some kind of screeching, or sawing, even. I jerked upwards and looked at my window. The curtains were closed, so I couldn't see outside. Was I getting robbed now, as well? A car accident and a robbery in the same month, that would just be the thing that could happen to me. I slowly and quietly got out of my bed, scanning the room for something to protect myself. When I couldn't find anything, I decided they could take whatever they want, but I wasn't going to be there for it. When I reached my front door, I was about to open it when I heard the sawing stop, followed by a 'plop' of the opening window. I spun around and through the door opening of my room, I saw a dark figure standing. Before I could react, before I could say anything, the figure lifted his arm and I saw a something shimmering there. Was that a gun? My heart started racing and my adrenaline and instinct took over. I ducked to the side, into the kitchen. Breathing heavily, I grabbed a huge knife from the knife block on the kitchen counter, not fully thinking about how that wouldn't help me at all when the other person had a gun. However, when I looked down at my hands, the plastic handle of the knife was completely melting down. The black liquid dripped through my fingers. How could this be possible? I noticed I was feeling extremely hot again, like in the room at the hospital. But my body temperature couldn't possibly be so warm that it could melt knives, right? That was ridiculous. In the split seconds I was all thinking this, I could also hear footsteps approaching – I looked around in panic, but there was nowhere for me to go. I was trapped. Was this my punishment for killing that man? Was I getting what I deserved, like some really fast-working karma? The figure rounded the corner and stepped into the kitchen, his arm still raised. In a reflex, I lifted my arms in front of me, trying to fend of the bullet that would easily get through. The heat was racing through my body, like weird, electric pulses. I felt a strange, tingling sensation in my hands, and before I knew what happened, the figure let out a scream. I opened my eyes and couldn't believe what I saw: the figure was on fire. Huge orange and red flames were surrounding him from head to toe, and with him, the kitchen furniture around me. But I didn't feel the heat of it, quite the contrary: I finally felt cooled down a bit, like I took a dive in a pool after a really hot day. This couldn't be happening. Where did the fire suddenly come from? Before I could reach out to help the figure, he ran away towards my room and jumped out the window. When I ran after him, I heard a sizzling sound of a fire being extinguished and I saw more people moving outside, running away while supporting the figure that had just fled from my apartment. I turned around and ran towards my kitchen again, where the fire was only growing bigger. By now, the fire alarm had gone off. I opened my front door, ran towards the fire extinguisher in the hallway and barely noticed other doors opening. "Help me!" I screamed. "There's a fire!" Back in my kitchen, the fire extinguisher didn't do much good. It killed some of the flames on side of the kitchen, but they seemed to be coming back just as fast. I heard sirens in the distance. A guy came from the hallway and pulled me with him. "You have to leave, you can't save it by yourself!" I let myself be pulled away by him, into the hallway and towards the door, into the cold November air.

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