The Consuming Phoenix
Juhmer Tena

At the end of the room, there was a pedestal bathed in a holy light. On top of the pedestal was a lighter with a Phoenix and a Salamander engraved into it. The lighter was open, and the faintest of flames sprung to life only for it to die down and be reborn, becoming stronger and stronger with each cycle. The ever-growing flame eventually touched the tapestry behind the pedestal, and the tapestry came to life as the fire blazed across it. The tapestry did not live long. However, this time, the flame was not revived.

The flame had not needed to be revived from its ashes because it had never died. Its immensity beat the powers of death. It crawled along the carpet; it traveled up the walls that the tapestry once inhabited, it consumed the entire room. By this time, it had already grown into an inferno rivaling Satan’s pits of hell. It had grown into the adjacent bedroom and embraced both of its inhabitants in a sweet, warm embrace that promised nothing but pleasure. It grew past the bedroom and into the garden outside, devouring the plants that had once given the area life. It even consumed the entire library, leaving only a single book untouched.

This book was extraordinarily ordinary. It wasn’t one of literary merit, nor was it the last of its kind. The book was also mass-produced. Thus, it made little sense to why the flames only licked at it, never fully committing itself to consume the book whole. It may have been a perverted sentimentality about the world that was consolidated into this last book on Earth in the middle of the desolated wasteland. It may have been that the flames were so disgusted by the way the book was worded. The fire may have already finished consuming the world and wanted to leave the book to show that it possessed the omnipotent ability to consume all, but it chose not to exhibit control.

Whatever the reason the fire had for sparing the book was, no one realized that they were dying and that the inferno was slowly bringing the entire world into its embrace. To the very last minute, it seemed as if humanity followed one of its rules it had given itself: Ignore what is painful or unsavory; it will eventually go away. Maybe the fire had gotten tired of its originators, and decided to go the exact opposite direction: Consume all that is painful or unsavory; make it go away.

First published: November 2017
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