That day, Marina had to stay all night as a party was going to take place in the upstairs room, were normally all the clients would go to see their moves. The space could easily be converted into a large room for parties and so on and that day it happened to be the launching party of a new sex toy. You see, Marina worked in a sex shop but not just any sex shop. It was the biggest in the city and simply the most complete one in the world. It was a very large store filled with toys, movies, costumes and many other things people could use to pleasure themselves or others. Marina had applied for the job only a few months ago but she had settled in nicely as she didn’t make the clients uncomfortable, which was the most important thing for the job.
The store was deserted but, as the party took place, it remained opened for any person that wanted to check in late at night, looking for some fun. She knew that the party may move there because they had warned her to dress sexy and she had with a plunging cleavage but she felt very silly wearing such a thing because she was a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl. Wearing that red blouse and mini skirt felt like putting on a costume for a party, which she technically did. Marina had gotten there at 8PM and by 10 PM she was already bored out of her mind. No one, from the party or otherwise, had come into the store and dressed like that she felt defenseless if anyone came in. It just wasn’t her.
Finally, the party people came down and her boss told her to give them a tour, as he talked with the head of the sex toy company who could give them a great deal for his next toy line. She did as he said and tried to put on her best smile in order to parade the people all around the store. She showed them every aisle of the movie section and the various toys they had, some even imported from Asia were they had many other sex toys that weren’t available in the country and several other areas. She was actually relieved she had to do that because at least it kept her awake. The people of the group weren’t really listening, choosing instead to make out with others or drink their glasses of wine or cocktails.
Then, a resounding sound was hears and the glasses of the store broke into pieces. Everyone got to the ground and the screaming and running begun. M Marina, however, stayed down covering her head, her hands trembling. She wasn’t crying but she felt close to do that. The sound of the explosion had caused her ears to hurt very badly and she had hurt a knee when stumbling down to the floor. When she finally looked around, most of the people had run out of the store and were standing outside, looking at something. She was somewhat weak, and scared, but got to walk to were the glass stood. She crossed the one carefully not to cut her feet and walked towards the crowd. Many others had joined them then and then she let out a scream.
Marina realized what they were looking at. Half a building, maybe two blocks from there down the street, had been blown up to pieces. Walking towards it, she could easily see how half of it still stood there but the rest was on the street or had destroyed parts of nearby buildings. Then, she heard the screams of people asking for help. She ran towards the building and saw that there were bodies on the ground and people were still up there, unable to come down. She just couldn’t believe everything that was happening and then she started feeling a bit tipsy because of all the smoke and noise. She sat down on the sidewalk, people running by her and then she felt even dizzier. Eventually, she just passed out.
When she woke up, she realized she was home, in her small apartment. But she had no recollection of walking there or of someone helping her getting there. She had been lying on her sofa in the dark and she felt scared. Was it all a dream? A nightmare? But it couldn’t be. She was wearing her skimpy outfit and her knee was still sore. She stood up and decided to go to her room. There she undressed and changed into something more comfortable, something she could fall asleep with, which she didn’t think she could do soon. She was still shaken from the visions of dead corpses and people screaming. Marina thought it was best to just turn on the TV and follow the news.
But when she got to the living room she realized she wasn’t alone. Another woman was there, in the dark. She hadn’t seen here there before. Marina looked for something to grab and hit the other woman but she couldn’t find anything. The woman smiled and only said “No need”. Marina asked her what did she want and the woman told her she was just visiting after a long time. She explained to Marina how this apartment had been hers and how she had felt the urge to come in and just see it once again before she left. She seemed adamant to say she was leaving, because she said again, telling Marina that she shouldn’t feel threatened or afraid. The woman slowly stood up and showed her she didn’t have any weapons on her.
The young woman walked towards the woman and asker to live and the woman said that she would do so in a few minutes. As she drew closer to the woman, Marina realized one of her legs was bleeding from a big cut she had. It seemed as if a glass or something had cut her deep. But she didn’t offer any help. She just stared at the blood and then the woman asked for a glass of water. Marina complied, preferring to make time go faster instead of just standing there. As she poured water into a glass, the woman told her a strange phrase that resonated in Marina’s head: “When you have nothing else to burn, you have to put yourself on fire”. She handed the glass to the woman who was very calm. She had a sip of water and then, the glass broke.
Marina checked on her and the woman was dead. She wasn’t breathing, through mouth or nose, and she couldn’t hear her heartbeat. After such a crazy night, a woman had just died in her living room, just there, in front of her and there was nothing she could do to prevent it. Marina was scared and looked around, as if the solution was about to appear out of thin air. But, of course, no solution showed up. So she decided to check for the corridor outside of her apartment and after seeing no one was out, she pulled the woman and dragged her outside. It was difficult as dead bodies, she had heard, were heavier than living ones. But somehow, after some time, Marina managed to dragged the body to the elevator and then drop her next to the dumpster that was in front of the building.
She just left the body and ran up to her home, where she felt safe. She locked the door and suddenly Marina felt guilty after putting some woman’s corpse in the cold night, as if was nothing. She turned on the TV and tried to take her mind away of what had just happened but it just got worse. They were showing images of the explosion and footage of firemen trying to put down several fires caused by the explosion. For a moment, she was able to see her boss and some other people being pushed away from the area. Apparently, they had reasons to believe that it wasn’t a terrorist attack but an unfortunate accident.
Marina tried to lie down but she couldn’t. She had experienced so much and lived many lives in one night and she just couldn’t bare it all. But she couldn’t fall asleep either because all the memories rushed to her brain. All the corpses, the screams and the feeling of falling into a deep, fuzzy slumber. The she opened her arms and realized she had finally fallen asleep without even realizing it. It was early and she decided to open every window and try to make I feel normal but the day wasn’t helping as it was raining. She realized the TV had been on all night so she decided to turn it off but she refrained from doing so when she saw her face in the screen. They were looking for her. Or that’s what she thought at first.
They then showed footage of a store across the building that had exploded. It showed the glasses shatter and the chaos but then it showed her walking towards the building. Then, she was visibly dizzy and had sat down in the sidewalk before collapsing. The commentator said they suspected gas had made Marina faint but then they showed a dark figure making Marina stand up and walk with her off camera. They didn’t think she was missing, they just thought she had been saved because the building exploded again some minutes afterward. The camera’s footage was interrupted then. So the woman had saved her from death and she had just walked with her, dizzy and confused.
Marina decided to make herself a cup of coffee, then shower and after that she would call the police and tell them what had happened and why she had put the body by the dumpster. But there was no need. Because the body was not there anymore. Someone had taken it and was about to burn it. Because that’s what the woman had asked her friend just when she had decided to kill her husband and his lover with a gas explosion. As she had said: if you have nothing else to burn…