The fire alarm blared loudly, waking me up at 11:30. I'd only been asleep for a short time, so I woke up immediately and was annoyed. Another fire alarm, some kids playing a stupid prank. Again.
Except I heard someone yelling in the hallway. My mind assumed the new neighbors hadn't been through a fire alarm yet, so I laid back down and waited for the fire trucks to come. I wanted to be out of the building and standing in the cold the least amount possible. Wendell looked at me nervously and I made sure to scratch his ears a bit to make him feel better. It was just another fire alarm, just another stupid joke.
But then I continued to hear people screaming in the hallway, so I got up. At this point it was still no big deal. I sleepily dragged some clothing on over my pajamas and moved to the door. I felt for heat, but felt none so was confident when I opened the door. A wall of smoke crashed into me.
Not knowing yet what to do, I ran to the window and opened it. At this point the cats looked frightened, so I told them everything would be fine, but in case it wasn't to jump out the window. Wendell cried and rubbed his face against mine. He would take care of his little sister if necessary.
They were still sitting at my desk when I decided I still had a chance to leave through a door properly. I hadn't seen any fire yet and there was a chance I could make it. So I wrapped a wet towel around my head and hit the floor. The smoke was thick and nasty as I crawled through the hallway. Places that were easily recognizable during the day had become confusing. Terrified, I realized that I didn't know where I was going.
Something they don't tell you about a fire is that ash collects on the floor. That ash, combined with a fire extinguisher someone had set off, created pretty large footprints. With a proper path, I made my way to the stairs. Other people on the hall were screaming, so I cried out hoping they would be able to find my voice. Several people met me at the entrance to the stairs and we walked down together. Finally I burst outside, coughing loudly. A sea of refugees from the building were standing outside, some with their animals and some with luggage.
The fire department rushed over as we all shivered out in the cold. I stood on the law looking at my window as Wendell was sitting quietly on the heater. A fireman came into my apartment and Wendell jumped over to him, demanding attention. I laughed quietly, realizing that they were out of danger. There was no need for the cats to jump out of the window.
Now I'm angry at whoever pulls the fire alarm as a prank, because they managed to dampen my response. If it wasn't for my a strange intuition, and people's screams in the hallways, I may not have left the building. Next time I'll know better when woken up by the fire alarm, but how many more false alarms will cause me to be apathetic when the alarm goes off?