‘A Burn For A Burn:Part One’ by Ahmed Nader Gretly


We reached the lodge at dawn. The darkness of the night faded into a bluish hue, with the sun not quite up, but its effect visible. The thick smoke and blazing flames we witnessed by the horizon as we rolled on the last stretch of road towards our destination was dancing before us. The lodge was on fire, and I was freaking out. My heart was thumping, and my nerves bursting for Mary. Butch was clam, like always, but I saw some worry in his eyes; he pushed down the gas pedal, and made the car groan. The Painter was still a bit shook up from the incident at the factory. However, he looked much better after Butch apologized to him over drinks at the dive bar, and explained why he acted like that. Now, The Painter’s face turned yellow on seeing the spectacle in front of him. Martin, the strange man who scaled the walls of the factory right before it was demolished by the explosives he and Butch planted earlier sat stone faced, with his eyes fixed on the flames. We parked the car about fifteen feet away from the burning lodge and ran towards it like maniacs. I didn’t know what to do; my brain was over capacitated with thoughts and decisions, thousands of them, that in the end, I stood in front of the building looking helplessly at my companions. Butch took off his coat, threw it on the ground, and ran behind the building. Everything seemed way too vivid, the sights, the sounds, all felt like a horrible dream. Butch appeared again, panting with beads of sweat on his forehead.

“Fuckers broke the pump behind the building,” he said “Tank’s also cracked, and there’s water everywhere, it’s useless.”

“What do you mean useless?” I yelled “We can’t just let it burn.”

“Settle down, boy.” Martin whispered “Whoever did this didn’t want anyone to put it out.”

I glared at him, and then ran towards the back of the lodge, where I found the pump and tank broken, as Butch had described them. The heat from the fire was fierce that I instantly began to sweat. The thought of entering the building played itself over and over inside my head like a sick flick. I threw myself in the giant puddle of water next to the broken tank, got back up, and stood in front of the back door. I kicked the door in and a burst of flams sprang out like claws wanting to snatch my soul, and drag me to hell. The heat almost burnt my face off. I felt someone grab me from behind; it was Butch, and he heaved me back in front of the building.

“We’ll have to wait it out,” he growled “There’s no other choice, kid.”

“Butch,” I said with a crackling voice “I can’t leave Mary, I just can’t.”

“Don’t worry about her,” he replied “The Doctor is a smart man, she’s safe with him, but we have to wait it out, do you understand me?”

“Y-yes, yes I do.”

So we waited. We waited what seemed like an infinite amount of time before the flams settled, and the smoke ceased. All the while, I paced franticly here and there in a sea of my own anxiety, listening to the sound of the flames roaring, and the timber snapping. The lodge looked like one giant black piece of coal, with thin traces of smoke floating upwards. We walked amidst the ruins; nothing was left save a few partially burnt walls and columns.


“Cali, you go check out the garage.” Butch said “I’ll go check out The Doctor’s safe.”

“Okay, I will.” I said in a low hum.


I staggered and skipped through the scalded furniture toward the garage door, which wasn’t there, neither were most of the walls, or even The Doc’s old van. It appeared that the fire started from there, presumably caused by an explosion. Car parts were scattered like severed limps everywhere, it was horrifying, because this meant that Mary and The Doc did not drive away and escape the fire. Tears formed in my eyes, and I lost all hope of seeing my beloved once again.

“One of two things happened here,” Butch voice came from behind me “Either they were able to get out of here, or someone stole The Doctor’s stash, and left them to burn. The safe’s open, but the lock wasn’t broken.”

“What are we supposed to do now, Butch?” I said.

“We make sure there are no dead bodies here.” He said.

After searching the grounds for some time, we found nothing, which calmed my nerves a little bit. We couldn’t go upstairs because the floor collapsed, taking with it the stairs leading to the second floor. Martin climbed the walls in an acrobatic manner. The man was younger than Butch, but still old, maybe middle-aged, but he possessed the physical flexibility of a youngster.

“This doesn’t make sense,” Butch mumbled “No one knows about this place; The Painter didn’t even know about it until now.”

“That’s true.” The Painter said, his voice was husky as a result of not speaking for a very long time “Steve didn’t know about this place either.”

“The only clear thing here is that someone wanted to kill The Doctor,” I said “And stop him from pushing Blue.”

“There’s no one there.” Martin said from upstairs “No stiffs here.”

Martin jumped down to the ground floor; amidst all this, I couldn’t believe his athleticism.

“Wait!” I suddenly said “Where’s my colt? I put it in a box inside me and Mary’s bedroom closet. Can you go up there and look for it, Martin?”

“Will do, Gretly.” Martin said and scaled the walls again; he did even break a sweat.

“Why didn’t you take your gun with you?” Butch asked.

“Well, Butch,” I replied in a rude tone “I didn’t know we were going to kill someone, I thought it was a delivery mission.”

Butch didn’t reply. Martin jumped down again, his hands all black.

“I couldn’t find anything,” he said “I found the box though; it was open, but no gun.”

“They’re alive,” I said “Mary has the gun.”

“H-how do you know that?” The Painter asked.

“I just know,” I replied “Whoever did this didn’t go upstairs and snatched the gun from the box.”

“You might be right,” Butch said “But that don’t mean they’re alive. The gun maybe with Mary, but she might be dead.”

“Don’t you fucking say that, Butch!” I yelled “Don’t you fucking say that.”

“Sorry, kid.” He said.

I paced around for a bit, my mind was working like a machine. I tried to organize my ideas, sort them out in a logical pattern. I knew that the fire started in the garage, maybe someone planted a bomb there, or set fire to the van and it exploded. The Doctor’s safe was open, and the stash missing. Someone robbed the stash, and then set fire to the lodge. I disregarded that though, for the fact that The Doctor, and Mary were not stupid enough not to hear all that, but if they did actually hear someone moving around the place, it meant that they’re safe somewhere. That they were able to escape before the explosion or at least before the fire engulfed the entire lodge. The safe wasn’t broken, this meant that either someone took the time to open it the old fashioned way, which would take time, or that The Doctor himself opened it. Trails and patterns of thoughts danced before my eyes, and I tried to make sense of them.

“Is there an underground room in this lodge?” I finally asked.

“Not that I know of,” Butch said “Wait… Behind the lodge on the ground next to the tank and pump, I remember seeing a manhole cover, or what looked like that anyway, the cover wasn’t thick like a manhole’s. I remember The Doctor saying he keeps repair parts for the pump and shit like that in there.”

“They’re there!” I said ecstatically and ran outside towards the back of the building. I stepped into the muddy puddle next to the broken tank. The light from the sun was not that bright, and the water was too muddy. I couldn’t see a thing, so I sunk my hand in there, and began feeling the ground. I touched something metallic, and then ran my hand around it until I found its circular parameters; it was larger than a manhole cover, with a two or three feet diameter. I moved my hand to the center and found a handle to hold on to. I started to pull. It gave way, the puddle decreased bit by bit, till the cover appeared. Butch pushed me aside and grabbed the handle, opening the cover from the first trial.

“Well, well,” he said “Look what we have here.”

I looked into the hole and saw Mary in a torn nurse’s uniform, holding The Doctor in her arms, pressing a piece of cloth on his bloody shoulder. They both wore oxygen masks. The leather suitcase that contained the stash lay next to them in the underground chamber that couldn’t have been more than seven feet wide, and five feet long. Mary looked up with her eyes partially closed; she opened them a little more and stared at us.

“Hello, old friends.” The Doctor said wearily.

“Mary,” I said with tears in my eyes, my heart beating with joy all over the place “You’re alive!”

“Callisto,” She whispered with a frown on her mud covered face “There’s a monster out there, I saw him, I saw—”

The pressure she kept on The Doctor’s wound loosened, her hand fell next to her, and her eyelids fell.


About Ahmed Gretly

Ahmed Nader Gretly. Construction/Site Engineer, fiction writer, poet, psychopath, researcher, a book addict, and a daydreamer from Cairo, Egypt. Currently doing Construction Project Management, MSc, at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.
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