The siren wailed, ringing through my skull violently. The alarm sent shivers down my spine. My flesh goosepimpled. I wondered if I would ever get used to this.

I did not want to awaken, but bolted from my tiny bed, the light stinging my eyes, cramping my optic nerves. My tired legs protested the run to the brass pole, which I promptly slid down to the garage below.

My calluses screamed as I stuffed my feet into stiff rubber boots. It didn’t matter how thick your socks were if you had been traipsing all day through rivulets of ash laden water. I pulled my suspenders on, shoulders aching from carrying hose after hose, emptying tanker truck after tanker truck just to keep the monsterous blaze at bay.

The coat felt heavy with the burden of saving lives. It may be a cherished mantle, but I was beginning to wonder if I wanted the honor of carrying it. I grabbed onto the handle and hoisted myself onto the giant red behemoth. The wind snapped my face like a wet towel. Soon I saw a glow.

And finally, I was alert.

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