The darkness swallowed her up, drank her down and that was where Pandora remained with the lingering feeling of Boos body heat b her side, snoring gently. It felt like nothing could have woken her and she would have remained there in the nothingness of her head but something was pulling her out back to reality. Music notes drifted into her mind and down into the depths like a rope, they lopped around her and pulled her back into the waking world, back to where she did not want to be. She was groggy when she opened her still screaming eyes, her body felt like it had slumbered for only a few minutes but outside night had fallen around them like a soothing blanket, she checked her watches, 6 hours had passed them by, Boo too had woken at the sound of the music as it drifted through the house, she stood with her paws resting on the windowsill, staring intently at something. Pandora rolled from the bed, she wanted to scream but instead stretched the sleep away from her limbs and joined Boo by the window. Outside something was alive, not far from where they rested a building was illuminated and the light seemed to dance and sway along with the music, a guitar, as it filed the night sky. Fire reflected in Pandora’s eyes and though she were inside and so far from it she could feel the heat prickling her skin; then a thought crossed her mind, who was in there playing that guitar? She considered the surge, but why would a member of a sadistic army sit in a burning building sending a rhythm so heart breaking out into the world. Suddenly she felt a need to find out, to go to whomever was in that building and ask them where that song had come from. The haunting melody wrapped its tender fingers around her wrist and pulled her gently from the warmth and relative safety of the house. Boo followed behind her, confusion in her eyes as Pandora walked trance like toward the orange glow and the warming music.
The closer they moved the louder the rhythm grew until it felt like it were the beating heart in Pandora’s chest; it overwhelmed her and before she realized salty tears fell from her tired eyes, rolled down over her dirty cheeks and fell, vanishing into the darkness around her. Some dried on her cheeks, the heat of the fire as it licked at the blackness of the night, drying them before they had a chance to flee. Pandora stood before a white building that could have been a church but no cross sat atop its roof, nor was there a board advertising the day's sermon. Instead embossed atop the arched door way were the words ‘Community is Faith’ after reading the sentence Pandora took a long step over the threshold of what she had decided was the village’s community center. Inside the fire burned so hot she felt like she might be walking the long path into hell, the flames crackled and spat embers at them as they walked through the randomly set table and chairs toward the stage where the man sat. No matter how close Pandora grew he didn’t seem to notice her or he chose not to, he simply stared down at the shimmering sea green guitar in his bloody hands, picking out a melody so melancholic it cut short Pandora’s breath.
“Hello?” she called though she had barely used her voice for so long in fear of being heard that she thought it had been a stranger whom had called out the greeting. He did not acknowledge her. Pandora moved closer, she could pick out his features now, his blue eyes so sad they resembled the sea after a storm had ripped through it and turned it upside down, its water casting murky and dank. When she looked around him Pandora realized what storm had ripped through his life, why he sat and played in spite of the growing fire and the lurking surge; around him lay the other members of his band. They were all dead, the singer lay on his stomach, to Pandora it looked as though he had been beaten to death, the white of his skull shining through his mass a dark hair, the fire reflected in the pool of deep crimson blood that had formed and thickened and the microphone it looked as though he had attempted to use as a weapon lay beneath him. Toward the back was the drummer, still sat at his drums, one hand still clutching a stick, he looked young; the youngest and it looked as though this might have saved him the same brutal death as the lead singer. The back of his bright blonde hair was mashed with blood and brain matter where the bullet had torn through and behind him Pandora spied a bloody hole in the wooden cladding. She cried for him as she stood there letting the music wash over her, she cried for all of the things he would never do, for the loss of talent and promise, she cried for the sheer unfairness of it.
She was frozen in time, everything felt like it had stopped, the flames, the smoke, the music; nothing seemed to move, Pandora could stroke the fire, feel no heat, no burn of her flesh, she could walk through it, pass through the pain and the fear that couldn't touch her any more and take his hand. She could break him free of his melancholia, his sadness and lead him to safety. In a perfectly supernatural world that’s what she would have done but in this broken and torn world though her skin had thickened, it could not protect her from the fire nor could it help her save him. The fire had climbed the stairs that led to the stage, it crept toward him but still he played; he picked a tune for the wicked to dance into hell, a melody to carry the virtuous into heaven, Pandora could almost see the souls dancing around him, marching to their destiny.
“Please” she screamed as the fired began to strum its own harmony, she watched the strings burn and snap, coiling, the end searing hot and burning bright like a star in the night sky but still he didn’t flinch,
“Oh god” she gasped as the flames touched his fingertips, she moved forward, the heat was overwhelming, suffocating, she couldn’t fathom how he sitting there, statuesque and silent, he had stopped playing now and had set his guitar down, given it to the flames willingly. Pandora grabbed his leg in hope that human contact might break him free of whatever trance he had fallen into but nothing passed. She wondered if he was even alive or if he had died up there with his friends and if all she was seeing was his soul, waiting to move on. She shook harder, her nails digging into his calf; still he bore no reaction. Her hand fell back to her side, her heart ached for him, for the emptiness that filled his eyes; tears streamed from her eyes, Pandora could have fallen to her knees and wept but instead she wiped her tears free, not only had her skin grown thick but she had learned that she could not dwell; her life and Boos depended on it. When she looked back up, her eyes sore and her skin burning like she had taken a walk on the sun’s surface, he was staring at her, his eyes bore into her but he didn’t speak,
“Please come with me” Pandora begged, “please” but he still didn’t respond instead he stood and he smiled down at her, a smile that wished her luck, that said ‘I hope you make it’ and then he turned and walked into the flames. They swallowed him like a hungry lion devouring a deer; he made not utterance of pain or fear but just vanished like he had never truly existed.
Pandora left the burning building behind her, she hoped deep down that a voice would call to her, his voice calling for her to wait, to take him with her but it never came and the further she moved from the village the father the thought was pushed from the forefront of her mind. Pandora wished she’d taken a wide birth around that village but as she ventured back into the clogged woodland she began to think that there would be no avoiding death, not any more.