Burning Love. Short Story.

So the conferring went well, now I’m a graduate, hoorah!

I was actually really nervous, more nervous than I expected and I have no idea why. I felt pretty nauseous before it, I actually thought I was getting ill, but afterwards I felt fine. Though I was exhausted for the entire day, pretty much went to bed as soon as I got home, still, it was fun enough and a good day overall.

10/10, would graduate again.

I went to a restaurant with my family, The Rustic Stone, it was really nice, a bit expensive, but the portions were huge, they offered half portions which I will be getting if I go back (which I probably will, as I won a free main course on scratchcards they gave out at the beginning of the meal.) I got a fillet beef steak and basically, they bring out a lump of meat that’s blue rare on a sizzling stone, and a side plate. You take the meat from the stone, put it on the side plate, then cut off lumps of meat and cook it to your likeness on the stone. It worked out really well and was pretty fun. Definitely a cool experience. It was really tasty too. For a starter I had an orange salad. It was strange and though I didn’t quite like it I could easily see why someone would think it was amazing. Really great place overall.

In other, important news, I got a onesie. Yup. It’s pretty damn comfortable. Now all I need is for my friend to throw her onesie-themed party and I’ll be set.

On with the show!


Jacob frowned, he had seen Stephen earlier in the night but still he had hoped, yet there they were. His daughter and Stephen were on the dance floor, twirling through the other dancers. Jacob had already told her he didn’t approve, that Stephen wasn’t a good match, that he was dangerous. Jacob knew that Stephen was into a lot of shady things, dealing god only knew what. He had tried to get information on Stephen and it seemed to be almost impossible and these days that only meant something bad was happening. He had been tempted to hire a P.I. but he had heard rumours that the last private investigator to tail Stephen had disappeared. Jacob shook his head, all this trouble over a boy who hadn’t turned twenty yet. Jacob had always thought his daughter had more sense, that she wouldn’t make these kinds of mistakes. Lust could cause people to do crazy things, but Nina had always been level-headed, never one to allow herself be swayed so easily. Jacob had his suspicions of who and what Stephen was, but he hoped that Nina would tire of him or vice-versa, before it came to a head.

He kept an eye on them throughout the night, Stephen never left her side, he was always there. Even when she was talking to her friends, Stephen stayed with her. That kind of obsession was never healthy. He thought that Nina looked uncomfortable with it at times, maybe she wasn’t as enamored as he had first thought. Maybe she was trapped or afraid to leave. Perhaps it would be a good idea to send her away for a while, off to one of her cousins or her aunts. Some place far away so Stephen wouldn’t be able to follow her. Travel was difficult these days, so many restrictions, it wasn’t like when he was a boy and you could just hop onto any old plane. He was certain that if Nina was somewhere far enough, Stephen wouldn’t be able to follow her.

The band was still playing when Jacob decided it was time to leave, he had stayed long enough, after all it wasn’t as though the party was in his honour. He looked around for the host and, after spotting him, he made his way through the room. As he went he scanned for Nina, though there was no sign of her, even if she refused to go home with him, he wanted her to know he was leaving.

After thanking the host, he moved through the crowds again, briefly stopping to chat on the way, he spotted Nina’s friends, clustered in a group and all sipping punch. He went over and asked where Nina was, most of the girls looked uncomfortable, one of them looked almost gleeful,

“She and Stephen went off together, I think they wanted to be alone.”

He thanked the girl, and made his excuses to leave the group, asking them to tell Nina he had left if they saw her again. He had been young once and it wasn’t his business what she was up to. He didn’t approve, but she would see sense and, if she didn’t, he would support her as she’d need it when she finally did. He was at the front door when the doors at the back of the room slammed open, the loud bang briefly drowning out the band. The music faltered, continued, stuttered and finally died out. There was yelling though Jacob couldn’t make it out. The crowd parted slightly and he saw the commotion, Stephen was shouting at the host, Nina standing to his left. The host was cowering, Stephen raised his fist and pulled it back, someone behind grabbed his arm, Stephen spun and punched. He focused his attention on the host and said something Jacob couldn’t hear, the host paled and shouted something that sounded like “no, please,” when the fire started.

The flames leaped up the walls, spreading with incredible speed, Stephen stood where he was, grinning maniacally, Nina looked resigned. People started to scream and shout, a few turned towards the door, then they stopped and started to calmly walk towards the flames. Thick smoke was already filling the room, making it difficult to breathe, but as they walked the people laughed and joked with one another. Jacob felt sick, he could feel the compulsion, though it was faint enough for him to resist. He stepped back out through the doors and into the cold night air. Around him people were turning towards the house, a few even beginning to walk towards the doors. Stephen was walking calmly through the crowd, they turned to follow him. Jacob watched as a woman’s long dress caught fire, it spread quickly, engulfing her, yet still she walked, a manic smile plastered across her face. She stumbled once, twice, then fell, still trying to drag herself forward as the flames melted her flesh. Another woman paused at the flaming walls and carefully dipped her hair backwards, instantly fire flamed upwards, she laughed, he heard a woman mutter nearby that it was beautiful, the woman, still smiling, continued to walk as the flames burned her scalp. All around the ballroom were similar scenes, men and women setting themselves on fire. Stephen reached the doors and walked through, he smiled at Jacob and continued past. Nina cast one shameful glance at her father but she didn’t stop. He watched them leave, the heat of the flames drumming into his back. Around him people continued to burn, someone had doused the driveway in petrol, some people were rolling in it, then standing and returning to the house. the smell of burning was thick in the air, and above it, the sweet smell of cooking meat. He felt sick. Jacob turned and threw up, his stomach heaving. A young woman walked from the house, the one who had told Jacob that his daughter had disappeared, she looked frightened, he knew she was struggling. He moved toward her, hoping he could pull her free when she turned and, with a scream, she raced back into the house. Jacob turned from the fire, his skin was starting to burn from the heat, and ran. The roar of the fire stayed in his ears, the screams of the few who knew their fate echoed through his mind and still he kept running, the fear that if he stopped, he too would walk into the flames kept him going.

He collapsed twenty minutes later, the house behind him a beacon of flames and destruction. He shivered on the ground, part of him aching to return, telling him how sweet it would be to burn.

He knew now what Stephen was, as did his daughter, how could she stand to even touch him? He threw up again, thin mucousy gruel splattering the ground. He knew Nina was already gone, there would be no saving her. He stood shakily, still panting, and started to walk. Soon there would be firefighters and ambulances. He didn’t want anyone to find him here. If Stephen knew Jacob survived, he might return to make sure Jacob couldn’t tell anyone his secret. Jacob stumbled into the dark, the smell of burning meat was beginning to fade, replaced by the thick, harsh smell of burning plastics, the wail of sirens began to drown out the crackling and crash of the collapsing house behind him. Jacob walked away, still fighting the urge to return.


About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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