The outline of the body is in stark contrast to the surrounding char; a small, pale white tracery on an otherwise burnt and blackened mattress.
The rest of the undersized storage area used as a bedroom within the vacant warehouse is in shambles: spalled walls, shattered windows, pools of filthy water from the fire hoses.
In one corner squats the roasted hulk of a dresser, the cheap wood alligatored from the flames. From how far away did the homeless family drag that here, I wonder?
Above it dangles a worn electrical cord. The light bulb hanging from the end is misshapen and elongated, molded into a pointer indicating the direction of the fire path.
But my eyes keep drawing back to the mattress. A child has died here, and all that remains is the blanched, unburned outline of the little body.
What we in the business call a soot angel.

Read the 1st chapter here.


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