Isaac woke the next morning to the sound of Karen leaving for work, with the dream fluttering towards the edge of his memory. Already it was fading, and by the time he'd poured his first cup of coffee it was all but gone. He could remember, however, that he was supposed to be able to write again, if not why. With a fearful hope Isaac made his way back to the studio.
The composition he'd been working on lay neatly stacked on top of the piano, indicating that Karen had been in here to clean up a little as she got
ready this morning. He smiled softly, lovingly, and sat down on the bench.
He glanced at yesterday's work for a moment, and then pulled a few blank sheets from the bottom of the stack. No, he thought as he glanced at
the previous night's scribbles again, today we try something different. He grabbed a pen from the cup that Karen had suggested he store such
items in, and pushed back the lid from over the keys. Then he wrote.
Isaac wrote like a man possessed, hands flying back and forth from the keys to the paper, wrong notes molded into his most beautiful melody ever,
clunks and bangs shaped into a scenic harmony. He cursed often in artistic frustration, and giggled with glee just as frequently as the pieces fell
In just over an hour he'd written a modestly short tango, in a seductively minor key with little bright patches for contrast. It was by far the best
work he'd ever done, and although he knew there were a couple of places that would need a small tweak or two, it was the quickest he'd ever finished
a piece from start to finish. Even his shorter ones had normally taken most of a day at best.
He played through the piece twice more, enjoying the spicy Latin rhythm as it danced from his hands. Isaac could feel the passion he'd poured into
it, a passion he had started to think he'd lost, a passion that was now blazing away in the dark, smoldering swoops and dives of the melody and
counterpoint. In a brief moment of further inspiration, he scribbled a title across the top of the first page--Los Fuegos, "The Fires." It
seemed fitting for a piece of such burning intensity.
After Isaac's second run of his new tango, a loud growl from his stomach reminded him that he'd skipped breakfast and was on the verge of missing
lunch. He stood up and stretched, satisfied with what he'd accomplished, and walked out to the kitchen. He stopped to turn on the television for
some background noise as he fixed a sandwich, and the "Breaking News" banner caught his attention as he came back from the kitchen. An attractive
female reporter was standing in front of a large, burning building. The superimposed lettering denoted her as Tina Lockhart.
"...one of the strangest coincidences I've seen in my years of reporting Elliot. The fires here at this warehouse on Johnson Avenue appear to be
dying down now, and I'm getting reports that most of the others are showing similar signs of being controlled. Can you confirm that in the studio?"
A man's disembodied voice came from the TV.
"We're getting mixed reports on that Tina, so we can't really confirm or deny it. Do you have any information on how it started yet, or any
"Right now the police and fire crews are more concerned about controlling the blaze, which as I said, it appears they are managing. They have no
official cause as of this point, but are not ruling out arson.
"There have been some casualties; mostly minor injuries, although one firefighter was killed when part of the roof collapsed about 20 minutes ago,
and two people--civilians--have been taken to Western Memorial Hospital where they are being treated for smoke inhalation and other injuries. They
are both listed as critical, but stable."
"Thank you, Tina." The camera cut to the news studio, where a well-dressed man with graying hair and a grandfatherly but somber appearance was
adjusting some papers on his desk.
"If you're just joining us, our top story today is a series of fires which, in what has to be one of the strangest coincidences ever, are spanning
across the globe. We have reports coming in from London, New York, Charleston, Johannesburg, and Moscow to name a few of the larger blazes. So far,
over one-hundred-seventy cities and municipalities around the world have reported large fires in a variety of settings. There have been no
indications that this is a coordinated terrorist attack of any kind, although officials have yet to rule out any causes for any of the fires. There
have been over fifteen hundred confirmed deaths, and an estimated seven thousand injuries reported from the blazes, most of which started within the
past two hours. In other news..."
Isaac turned off the television as he finished his sandwich. He thought about calling Karen to make sure she was alright, and decided against it.
She was across town from that particular warehouse, and would most likely get in trouble for taking a personal call. He put his plate in the sink and
walked back to his studio.
"Okay," he said aloud, sitting at the bench and cracking his knuckles--a habit Karen had long since given up trying to break him of. "Let's try
something a little different." He grabbed another handful of the lined paper and his pen, and took to the keys again.
Again, the music flowed smoothly from fingertips to keys as it had earlier, although this wasn't a tango pouring forth, or any of the more popular
styles of "classical" music. A dark rain was washing over the piano this time, triumphant but angry, a self righteous rage that he could not
understand and didn't argue. He didn't care where the music was coming from--he was certainly much happier than the moody outpouring he was
watching--but it was still coming, and that was the important part. Visions of future critics comparing this work-in-progress with something from the
pen of Chopin or Rachmaninoff danced through his head, and he failed to restrain a grin even as he chided himself for his narcissism.
Three hours passed before he drew the final bar line. Although a much longer piece than his earlier tango, it still came through much quicker than
Isaac would've expected, especially for sounding more like a performance-ready final draft than the rough sketch he'd normally complete in such a
short amount of time. He played it from start to finish twice more, as he had with the tango, and thought for a moment, searching for a title for
this new composition. Finally it came to him: Prélude aux Révolutions. He silently thanked the French for giving him such a
beautiful language to title his piece with, and stood up, smiling and very pleased with himself.
He answered the insistent call of nature and went to the kitchen to find a drink. It was still early, but after completing two new pieces from
scratch, he felt that a beer--or maybe a tumbler of scotch--was well deserved. He settled on the scotch, and, curious to see how the fires were
panning out, he turned on the television. Ms. Lockhart and her cameraman were standing on a street corner Isaac recognized as being a few blocks from
the earlier warehouse fire, and he could see that Tina looked a little frightened under her stoic journalist's façade.
"...utter chaos here, there really isn't any other way to describe it Elliot. Not long after the fire department seemed to have the blaze under
control, a large group of people started up Tieton Avenue and--" Elliot cut her off, as the camera cut back to the studio.
"Tina, I'm sorry to interrupt you, but we're starting to get reports that other cities are rioting as well. The reports I have indicate no
relation to the earlier fires, most of which have been put out at this time. There also seems to be no motives for any of the uprisings, although
sources in Istanbul-- where police and emergency crews are dealing with one of the larger revolts right now--say that their incident is related to an
earlier political demonstration, although they have yet to state the nature of that demonstration or the relationship to the revolt." He paused,
pressed against his unseen earpiece for a moment, and nodded his head as if merely acknowledging directions to someone's house.
"I've just been informed that Tina's location is not the only area here in town where people are rioting. We're getting word in from Market
street that a car has been set on fire; there is a small structure fire at 1st and Widdicent, which is apparently the result of looting; and--" He
took another hand-to-the-earpiece pause, with a quick nod thrown in for good measure, and continued "and it appears a rather large crowd has gathered
down Sierra Madre Way. Folks, please--"
Isaac didn't wait to see what Elliot was going to implore of his audience; Karen's offices were near Sierra Madre, and it was already time for her
to be on her way home from work. He grabbed the cordless phone from its cradle in the kitchen, misdialed the numbers to her cell phone twice, and
breathed a sigh of relief when he finally hit the right numbers and she answered.
"You're alright. Oh, thank God Karen."
"Oh, of course I am hon, don't worry about me. How is it looking there by the house?" He looked out the window to the sight of the man across the
street checking the mail, topless and scratching himself unselfconsciously. Although the site was quite revolting, it wasn't quite the uprising
happening around the city.
"It's fine here. Where are you?"
"About two blocks from the office. I--oh crap."
"What? What's 'oh crap?' No 'oh crap', honey."
"I just turned the corner, and there's a large group of them." She spoke quietly, as though her voice would alert "them" to her presence
before the Honda's little four-cylinder engine would.