OPINION COLUMNS

Pray for the firefighter

By Shelley Madden | Published Sunday, March 20, 2011

The mighty hawk raced down from the heavens, soaring high above the Texas plain, his keen eye overlooking the vast prairie. His feathers glistened gold in the afternoon sun as he circled above the parched grasses. Gusting southern winds tossed him upward; he was thrown off course and came crashing toward the hardened earth in a downward spiral.

Shelly Madden

A moment before certain doom, he righted himself and alit on a nearby mesquite, waiting in silence for the whipping winds to subside. He had come to watch, and wait.

He gazed patiently from his bramble throne at the prairie grasses as they rocked to and fro. The winds whipped and churned them into waves of silken threads.

He caught the scent of smoke. He watched silently as a newly born flame began to crackle against the distant sky. Soon, embers floated on the angry winds. A story-high wall of fire quickly rose in his grassland. It hungrily marched northward, consuming everything in its path.

Smoldering, charred grasses lay in its wake. He rose into the sky once more, watching the scene beneath him unfold.

On a path of destruction, the raging wildfire was soon on course with nearby homes as they cradled their unsuspecting broods. Fueled by the relentless winds, it was now a force intimidated by none. It stretched as far as the eye could see. Trees in its path were quickly consumed, left behind were silenced ashes of their former majesty. Nothing would stop it.

Nothing, except the firefighters.

The mighty hawk could hear sirens wail their warning in the distance.

But the blaze marched on, it would stop for no one. Fiery tornadoes were spawned, and they spun out of control as the roaring winds coaxed them to greater heights. The sky burned orange as the hawk soared higher to escape the searing heat. His earth was on fire.

His wings cast silvered shadows over the brotherhood as they fought the hellish entity. Burning smoke wrapped them in cocoons of ash. The behemoth fought back, slashing them with tentacles of blackened soot. It had the winds to its back. It would not be quenched without a fight, it had the power, it had the fury. The war of eternity had begun once more.

The firefighters powered on, relentless in their pursuit. A human barricade formed along its path, a chain of living flesh stood armed and ready to risk their lives to save others. Camaraderie prevailed as they joined forces and bravely fought the maddened devil.

The monster would not live to see nightfall; it would not feed on homes or humans this day. Cascades of water fell on the flames, searing heat sizzled, sending plumes of superheated vapors heavenward. The serpent had met its match; it finally lay in ruin on the blackened plain. The battle was won, No casualties were claimed. The firefighters would go home to their families when dusk beckoned.

The mighty hawk circled the charred frontier once more, watching keenly from the clearing skies as the brigade soon disappeared, in pursuit of a flame newly erupted on the distant horizon.

A gust of wind whipped him upward into the clouds again, from where he had come. The Heavens parted, the gates of pearl opened to welcome his majestic re-entry. He was a bird no more. He sat on His throne in Heaven, smiling down in everlasting glory at the firefighters below.


This story is dedicated in gratitude to the men and women of the Rhome Volunteer Fire Department and surrounding counties who came to our aid; and to firefighters nationwide.

Shelley Madden is an author who resides in New Fairview with her son, Dustin, along with her ponies, poultry, dogs and cats. She enjoys writing, fishing, shooting her pink guns and falling off her horse, Diamond. She writes a weekly column for an entertainment magazine and is a frequent contributor to Heartwarmers and Petwarmers. Her short stories have also been published in newsprint and on numerous websites and e-zines across the nation. She aspires one day to learn how to change the lightbulb in her gun cabinet.

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