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The smell of burning flesh mingled with a thick cloud of black smoke and filled the hallways of Everglades Psychiatric Hospital. Patients tripped and fell over one another as they attempted to escape the inferno raging throughout the facility. The sound of explosions and glass breaking mixed with people's screams and calls for help. Help didn't come fast enough.
Some of the residents choked and gasped for air as they found their way to the emergency exits. Others remained trapped in the building trying to make their way out. No practiced evacuation plan had been in place, but most of the patients were too mentally disturbed to actually follow one. By the time the fire alarm sounded, an entire wing was engulfed in flames.
There was a low rumble, like a roll of thunder, then a loud boom. Flames shot skyward and debris rained down among the evacuees outside as a group of people trapped on a balcony jumped onto the grass below, trying to escape the blaze. They appeared to survive the fall but were hurt.
"This is a nightmare!" a nurse screamed before attempting to use CPR to resuscitate a young woman who'd been dragged out of the building unconscious. he sprinkler system at Everglades hadn't worked in years. A work order had been placed with the state three years prior. Even though a patient had set fire to the hospital twice before, the powers that be took their sweet time doing anything. Now it was too late.
Copyright © 2009 by Méta Smith