Soot can be deceiving.
Vaugn stared up at the flickering shadows, telling their stories through erratic dancing on the dark roof. It had scarcely been two days since Vaugn had been lying in his scratchy prison bed, and he didn't miss one minute of the cruel life. It was the same everyday, wake up follow orders go to bed at the end of an exhausting day, then you have the next day to look forward to. He hadn't heard from anyone on the outside and watching other detainees get visitors and letters from family was hard, but he had become accustomed to a hardened life. After how many years he couldn't remember; his sister had come to visit, to tell him his mum was dying, and she wanted to see him. He had disappointed his mother, being a criminal for a son and felt no pride serving time for his criminal acts- stealing cars.
'Ten second Vaugn', that's what they used to call him, earning the title being able to take any car he wished- in ten seconds flat. Although ten seconds turned into ten years when the police caught up with him, stupid pigs think they own everything. He spat.
Lena averted her watch from the fire to glower at Vaugn.
"You shouldn't spit in church"
And now he had escaped, he was on the run, sheltering in an abandoned church for the night, with a white girl, who was also trying escape from her old life.
Vaughn turned his head to look at Lena, then turned his gaze back to the ceiling.
"God ain't done nothing for me"
Lena rolled on her side facing away from him.
Closing his eyes, Vaugn's thoughts drifted off into dreams. He slept deeply, even when the breeze came up and blew one of the old rickety windows open. He slept on, as several embers were blown across the church floor against the wall, where tiny tendrils of smoke started to slowly rise. At once tiny flames were licking up the walls and the smoke tendrils were winding together into thicker plumes. The flames were taking to the dry wood of the church, spreading higher and higher along the stained glass windows. Before long, the rapidly growing flames lighted up the whole room and it wasn't until the sound of roaring fire and the wailing of sirens that Vaugn awoke. The smoke stung his eyes and made him cough; he fought the haze to spot Lena. On the other side of the church, he could make out Lena's unconscious figure, coughing, the sleave of her white jumper smoking as the fire closed in around her.
The fire was lashing out in every direction, spreading like an infectious disease. Coughing uncontrollably, Lena finally awoke in panic to find herself surrounded in thick billowing smoke and the most intense heat she'd ever felt in her life. The blaze was inches from her face. Gasping for air, she franticly looked around for an exit, coughing profusely. Without long, she had collapsed on the ground, the blaze closer than ever.
Over the roaring and crackling of the fire, in the distance, sirens could be heard. Vaugn could hear them approaching, getting closer and closer. He instinctively ran for the exit, but suddenly stopped. He looked back to were Lena was lying on the ground and struggled with conflict inside his head, this was something he had never experienced before; he was forced to make an ethical decision. Care and chance getting caught? No, he couldn't.... but... he could see Lena's figure, lying helpless and scalded. All his life he only had himself to look after. No one to care for, and no one to give a stuff about him, that's the way it went. He could already see blisters appearing on her scorched legs, and the ever-closer sirens piercing through the night added to his frustration. If he stayed and helped Lena, prison would be his next stop, but if he ran, would they make it to Lena in time? But why should he risk how far he'd come, for someone he hardly knew? With a determined look on his face, he covered his face with the collar of his smoky blue shirt and dodged his way out through a back door.
Outside the church, police had arrived the area and firemen had just finished preparing to start hosing the burning structure. A single black figure came running out of the building. A police officer steadily raised his handgun, and pulled the trigger. A loud whip-crack echoed through the night. Several officers ran forward to the fallen body. The police Sergent turned to the fire Chief
"We had reason to believe that a black murderer hid out here," he explained
"Um sir..." one of the corporals called out.
Vaugn collapsed in a heap on the grass, the fresh air filled his lungs as he was finally able to breathe properly. Vaughn quickly stumbled to his feet, took one last look at the blazing structure, hoped Lena would make it out all right, and took off into the night.