The Man Dressed In Crying Flames

Alex Arnesen

More stories from Alex Arnesen

Voting Participation
January 16, 2020


The games had come to an end and being the games coordinator, I was to enter the arena to congratulate whoever was left alive on their victory. The reinforced metal door crawling open into the deathly quiet arena produced a bone-chilling screech that pounded against the thick metal walls like a sucker punch, only to be returned by the empty darkness shortly after. When the echoes eventually faded away the only sound left in the arena was the crumbling of the dead leaves under each of my steps. As the cornucopia Grows closer, I could hear the faint sound of metal clashing. Except it wasn’t intimidating. It sounded almost… inviting.

I continued moving forward crunch, crunch, crunch, ding, repeated over and over. Growing louder and louder until, finally, I reached the cornucopia. The sound of the metal had gotten louder. Yet in its deafening volume it continued to invite, growing louder and louder reaching a seemingly impossible crescendo. I felt my ears sending shots of pain through my body, I threw my head back and stared at the dark metal ceiling. I could feel my head pounding like how enraged waves of a tsunami crash into an unsuspecting city. Yet as the waves hurl towards it there’s nothing the city can do. Yet with or without the city the sound must go on. Then without warning the metal ceased to crash.

Replaced with the sound of a man walking towards me. I looked down from the ceiling almost forgetting where I was and what I was doing. The footsteps began to grow closer I could hear its feet hit the ground behind me. I began to turn around slowly, not in fear of what is behind me, but because of the shock of the sound being gone. My eyes finally focus on a man, about 6 feet tall, with broad shoulders and a commanding stature. He was well dressed in a velvet red suit and black dress shoes. He wasn’t walking fast, as if he knew I won’t run. Minutes felt like seconds while I watched this unknown figure stride towards me. Before I had time to think about what was happening the man is right in front of me. He was taller than I expected, probably being closer to 7 feet tall. What I once thought to be red velvet was an endless multitude of small flames covering the entirety of the suit. It almost seemed as if the suit was restraining the flames. The man also was not wearing shoes. Instead, an almost vortex-like outline of a men’s dress shoe was where his shoes should be. The man methodically reached his hand out obviously expecting me to shake it. Without thinking I went to shake his hand. His grip was firm, and his hand was unbearably cold to the touch. Then with a smile, almost sinister, he looked me dead in the heart and said:

“Congratulations, you made it!”.

Then it all went black.