Embers flare and trail to the dark. A darkness thick and quiet.
Intermittent quiet … sporadic cracks flicker and pop. An abrupt smack, and another, and then another, catapult the burning sparks up into the emptiness above.
I look up and follow the trail of random lines and tiny lights. It could have been the smoke hanging above a campfire on a summer night. Or the puffs of smoke at a Christmas tree lot in the middle of December. But this was no campfire, and there was no festive holiday music. The smoky fog hovering around me fills the air with a mood that makes you want to hide, tuck your head, wrap your arms around your legs. Hide.
Heat distorted air around the fire whips into smoky remnants and a transparent film snakes its way up, part of the wind. Higher. And even higher. Past the shadows of the trees and past the yellow crescent form of the new moon.
I could feel the chill in the air, and the damp mist, not freezing yet, but oppressive. A strange fusion of cold and warm. I’m sitting close enough for heat to reach my face, but the rest of me feels pale and sickly. Overheated and chilled at the same time. As if I was getting a fever, first the chills, even as a fever brings a warm flush to the face.
The scent of musty, maybe even acidic. Smoke. An onslaught to my sensors. Sizzling burnt wood and fiery embers.