When the beams finally gave way and the attic collapsed into the cloud of smoke that had threatened to billow through the roof, his eyes blazed the same orange-red that peeked through the smoke. He stared at it from the cover of a bush across the field behind the house, unmoving as it collapsed in on itself, bit by bit, board by board.
Even as the last embers caught on the evening breeze before the fire ran out of things to burn, he remained, unmoving.
When the last haze of light crept away over the horizon, he ran, eyes held shut until he cleared the first few trees that marked the edge of the forest. As he passed more trees—from memory, from practice—he slowly let his eyes creep open, the blazing orange-red illuminating the floor of dark forest in front of him as he ran.
His guardians had taught him this. They’d practiced it over and over again, in case the day ever came. He was to run and not look back, to travel by darkness until he reached the bunker at the base of the far