Writing Assignment – 9th July 2016

Writing Assignment – 9th July 2016

Assignment: You’re walking past a building, and you hear the smoke alarm for it. You know there are people inside, but everyone else is ignoring it. What do you do?

Comment with your stories below.


2 thoughts on “Writing Assignment – 9th July 2016

  1. The Front Fourth Floor Flat By Angela L. Garratt

    I remember it now, as clear as day. A few years ago I came out of the block of flats that I live in, I heard the sound of a smoke alarm. At first, I was not sure about where the alarm was coming from but I could smell smoke. A couple with a baby in a pushchair came out of the block just after me and I heard the father of the young family say, “I ain’t bothered, we’re insured!” I could not believe their attitude, they could have at least called the fire brigade. But they stuck their nose up at it and walked off. I ran back into the block looking for the fire. I thought I had better not tell my mother that I have just run into a burning building looking for the blaze, she’d kill me, but I thought about the children, elderly and animals that lived in the block, I couldn’t ignore it. I ran up the stairs checking each floor as I went up and as I got to the fourth floor it became apparent where the sound of the smoke alarm was coming from. The entire corridor was filled with smoke, then I heard an explosion and glass smashing, it was the sound of the heat and flames escaping through the windows. I immediately dialled 999 and told them I need the fire brigade. I knew it would be very difficult for the fire to spread as the doors were thick fire doors and the entire building was concrete. If anything was going to be a threat to the neighbours it would be the smoke. So, I ran downstairs and waiting for the fire engines to come, when they did I told one of the firemen where the fire was coming from, the front fourth floor flat and that there were elderly neighbours at risk.
    I watched how the fire people pulled out their hoses and ran them up the stairs. But then I left, I had to go and take care of my mother.
    When I got back home to my seventh floor flat later that day, I was told that the person whose flat it was had left a cigarette burning on a mattress. He survived but he wouldn’t have done if I had not gone looking for that fire.
    I never did tell my mother.


  2. The Tower

    From across Main Street I heard the sound of a far away fire alarm coming from up high. The busy road was noisy and the street bustling with commuters, all battling to get home. No one noticed me stood staring upwards and no one paid attention to the alarm.
    The Tower was an 18 storey hotel on Main Street. The north side of the building overlooked the river whilst the south side looked out onto the city. Many years ago when I first started working there, the building had been iconic and it’s views were a draw for VIP guests.
    Now it was tired, dated and overshadowed by new, contemporary buildings twice its size. The red carpet had been rolled up and the hotel barely ticked over by hosting conferences and providing bed and breakfast for bored businessmen.
    After a failed stint as an electricians apprentice, I had started work as a teenage lift attendant, riding those eighteen floors countless times a day and pushing the buttons for those too important to do it themselves. On my 21st birthday I became a porter, the money was better and guests would always tip. I worked hard, learned from the old hands and a year later I was promoted to Junior Concierge.
    By the time I was 24 I was a Senior Concierge. In between my long shifts and courting a girl from the kitchen, Jan, I devoured knowledge of the city. I could answer any query, no matter how obscure and signpost guests to any service they desired. My discretion awarded me generous tips and I became very popular with the regulars and the hotel management.
    By the time Jan and I were married and expecting our first child, I was appointed as Head of Security Services, a position I still hold today. The hotel is the only place I’ve ever worked and I’m proud to be it’s longest serving employee. I was head hunted a few times but I wouldn’t leave. This place is like home to me.
    It was Christmas five years ago when the first lay-offs happened. Mr Boyce called everyone into the function suite and said the hotel had had a bad year and cutbacks had to be made. Letters were handed out and there were tears from a few of the housekeepers who would not be needed in the New Year.
    Later, on my smoke break, as I stood in the underground carpark shivering, Mr Boyce joined me. Although he was the top brass we got along ok. He’d been good to me over the years and in return I kept my ear to the ground for him.
    He looked tired. We stood in silence for a few minutes, then as he stubbed his cigarette on the ground he shook his head slowly and said “Terrible business all this. Bloody terrible.”
    Over the next couple of years the wear and tear began to show on the hotel. There had been no refurbishments for some time and repairs were only carried out if they were in visible guest areas. Younger staff moved on to better employment and were not replaced. There were several early retirements and Jan hinted that I should go too but what would I do all day at home except become old?
    There was another round of redundancies which I survived. Then another. We were almost on skeleton staff.
    One night shift whilst out for a smoke, I noticed that a car in the far corner had its lights on. It was Mr Boyce’s car and something didn’t seem right. I put my hand on my walking-talkie and hovered my finger on the call button as I walked over. The smell hit me first then I began to cough as fumes hit me. The engine was running and a hose pipe ran from the ignition into the drivers window.
    Well the rest of that night is a blur now. I’d pulled Mr Boyce out of his car before he was able to do any real damage and dragged him, coughing and spluttering up to his office. He’d broken down in tears, explaining that the hotel was finished and closure was only weeks away. He had debts everywhere.
    I remember as a lad in the lift, I’d looked up to him. His dad had been General Manager then and he was the Deputy. Designer suits and shiny shoes made him seem aloof but he was alright really, just feeling the pressure of the big boots he’d have to fill.
    Now we were too old men, lamenting. I took a nip from my flask to calm myself and Mr Boyce gestured towards his drinks cabinet. I’m not sure how many we’d had when the subject of insurance came up and I can’t recall which one of us raised it but somehow a plan was formed.
    We chose today because there were no bookings, except for a breakfast meeting that had finished a few hours ago. The wait staff have cleared up and gone and my security lad come receptionist has been sent out to the Post Office before it shuts. When he returns he will of course hear the alarm and will find Mr Boyce fiddling with the control panel in reception complaining loudly about it being broken. It should be several more minutes before the smell of smoke gives things away. By that time I’ll be on my way. My work here is done.

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