Sirens started to cascade in and the shouts grew more numerous. All at once he realized what the origin of the smoke had to be.
He broke into a run. He reached the cross streets and was stunned by what he saw. The big front window was smashed and thick smoke was churning upwards from the opening in uncoiling black spools.
A fire engine had just stopped and two men in helmets and yellow uniforms were scrambling to draw out a hose and attach it to the corner hydrant. One of the firefighters saw him approaching and stepped forward waving his hands.
“Sir, step back…”
“There’re kids in there!”
He shoved the man aside and took a couple of running steps toward the building and a great sheering noise whipped into him with a blast of superheated wind.
He instinctively threw his arm across his face as the explosion blasted him backwards into the air. He opened his eyes and for a fraction of a second thought he was flying over the ocean. Blue stretched out underneath him in every direction. But it came to him that it wasn’t underneath but above and the ocean was the cloudless blue sky. He was on his back, the reek of melting plastic in his nose and heat crackling up and burning his chin.
He was on fire.