Fruit in Ash
rating: +3+x

2016, Australia

The white fire had claimed the city. A few smouldering buildings were all that remained of this community that had thrived only days prior. A little girl sat in the corner of one of the burned out ruins. She had drawn her knees to her head and was desperately trying to not exist. Before her lay three burned skeletons, her parents and one firefighter that had tried to remove her from the building as it was collapsing. Around her hands there were still these white flames. She could not stop it. Everything she touched would turn to ash and than the fire would just go on, unaffected by water or fire-extinguishers. Her home, her family, her clothes and finally her whole town. She could not even cry, because as soon as the tears escaped they evaporated and leaved only the salt in her eyes. She heard a almost inaudible thud beside her. Perhaps a part of the crumbling building had just missed her.
"Nice place you got here." The voice had something unnatural about it, but she could not pinpoint it. Who ever it was that had spoken she would burn him too. "No you wont. Here take one of these."
She heard another thud, as something far smaller hit the floor and rolled towards her. As it touched her foot she felt something cold. She had not feel cold ever since the day her hands had started to burn, the day the fire began. The girl looked down to her foot just to see a crimson apple next to it, shining against the the white ash.
"Take it. You must be starving. From how it looks here I would say you had nothing to eat in about 2 days."
The girl finally raised her head, just to see a man in a white suit sitting in the dirt almost one and a halve meters away from her. He wore a strange hat, like one a magician might ware, but he did not look like a magician, he looked more like a doll. Everything on him was more or less smooth. The white color against the charred black walls made her wonder whether he was even there. His tie had the same red color as the apple she had still not attempted to eat. She had tried to eat and drink before, how long had it been since then? Time in her mind was hazy. It felt like she had set here for days, weeks perhaps. When she had tried to eat, after she had started to burn, the food would burn to ash in her hands before she could take a bite. If he would not believe her she just had to show him. She reached for the apple, fire started to lick around it, but it would not burn.
Suddenly feeling her hunger she bit into the fruit, expecting to once again taste a mouth full of ash, but she did not. The apple was sour. Before the fire she would have stopped to eat immediately, spit out the piece she had in her mouth and had asked for another apple, but now this was the best taste she could imagine. She did not look up while she ate the apple whole, with core and stock.
She looked up. The man was still sitting there, his eyes fixed on the three skeletons. His mouth was moving and stopping from time to time, but no sound escaped his lips. The girl followed the mans line of sight. The skeleton of her father was moving. His mouth opening and closing, as if he was chatting with the man in white.
"Your father is not sure what happened to you. This seems to have been a surprise. I asked him whether you had eaten something strange or someone had brought something new into the house. Both a no."
The man in the white suit looked over to the girl who had extended a hand towards her parents in a silent plea.
"I can fix them. I can fix the whole town. I can even fix you, if you want that." The man smiled at her. His teethe were square and fully gap-less, like pictures she had drawn of people smiling.
"If I do, I will take the fire with me, if that is okay with you."
The girl only nodded.
"Do not worry, I will fix your voice as well." From the strange man carpet emerged, wallpaper, wood, her house. It flew out of the strange man like a liquid. Than it touch her parents and skin and flash returned to them. She saw the windows reappearing, like lakes freezing shut. Her clothes were back, her fingers no longer burning. The firefighter was back as well. The girl ran to her father and mother and tried to shack them awake, slowly regaining her voice.
The man in the white suit rose, his left hand engulfed in a white flame. As he clenched his fist the fire was absorbed.
"If you ever want this back, just call."
The man produced a white business card. It had only a symbol and a phone number on it. A red, encircled Z, with three red arrows emerging from the circle.
The man walked over to the spot the girl had sat and picked up his red apple. He grabbed the large white crystal under his arm and went to leave. As the girl turned in happiness towards her savior, she saw herself, burned, just like her parents moments prior, still cowering, encased in a white crystal being carried away by the man in white. Her hollow burned eyes starring back at her through the milky crystal, as if frozen in salt. She tried to lose this picture from her mind as her father embraced her.

The town would be back to normal in time, with the white fire incident fading into forgotten memory. The girl had almost forgotten what had happened, but she still kept the card, hidden away like a treasure or a cursed item. To dangerous to see, to valuable to destroy. She would one day call that number to get answers, and the people that answered were happy to give them. That day she learned of the Chaos Insurgency. That day the white fire returned to her fingertips. This time she had people to teach her how to put it to use.

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