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BURNED MAN

Coward

A man awakens with a gasp to see a fire has spread all throughout his home. His wife and child are seen tied to chairs back to back, unconscious.

The man attempts to get up, but finds himself restrained to a support beamĀ  He struggles against it for a while as the flames lick at his skin, leaving burns upon contact.

He screams as the fire dances on him, causing him to try and break free from his restraints to no avail. Tears run down his eyes as he watches the blaze grow, blocking visual of his loved ones.

As he’s about to accept his fate, the fire burns off his restraints.

He stands up and tries to make a move for the others, but part of the roof collapses in front of them, blocking his path and stopping him in his tracks.

The man begins to breathe rapidly as the building begins to fall apart. He finds himself staring at his family for a moment before saying two parting words to them.

“I’m sorry.”

With that, he dives out of the window, breaking the glass and leaving his family to their untimely demise. He hits the ground with a hard thud, knocking himself out.

When he comes to, he finds himself in complete darkness. He groggily pushes himself up to his feet and looks around in a mix of confusion and worry. Nothing is visible, not even the shack he just jumped out of.

“Maxwell.”

The now identified man hears his name being called. He turns his head towards the direction the voice came from, hoping to see someone there. However, he finds nothing.

“Maxwell.”

This time the voice sounds a lot closer than it did before. It also sounds much angrier than it did the last time.

“You’re a coward, Maxwell.”

Turning around, he spots the charred corpse of his wife three feet away from him. Despite not having eyes, she’s staring a hole through Max with a soul piercing glare. His eyes widen as he attempts to back away from her, but she follows his pace and closes the distance between them rather quickly.

“You left me and James to die in a burning building. You were supposed to be the legendary hero, but you fled when we needed you the most.”

Maxwell tries to say something in his defense, but he’s quickly silenced.

“Don’t speak. I don’t want to hear your excuses. I just want to see you branded as the deserter you are.”

As she finishes that sentence, bandages begin to wrap around him, transforming him into a mummified version of himself.

“I hope you suffer more than I did, burned man. I hope that everyone looks at you and sees exactly what I do; a recreant that didn’t have the moxie to save his own family.”

The newly labeled Burned Man screams into the void as she dissipates into ash before his eyes.

He then wakes up on the ground next to the dilapidated shack.

He sighs in relief before realizing he’s covered in the same bandages as the ones in his dream.

Blaze