A Critical Moment

Ring! Ring!

The alarm went off. Groaning, the firefighter threw his blankets off him. He had been trying to take a nap, but it didn’t seem like that was going to happen, now that there was a fire. Grabbing his equipment and protective clothing, the firefighter slid down the pole to the first floor, where the red firetruck was waiting. It stood there, in the dim light of the small garage, its paint chipping and peeling, its left headlight slightly cracked, its door handle slightly rusty.

But it would do the job. If you had to fight a fire, you wouldn’t care about how your vehicle looked, either. The firefighter hopped into the front seat of the truck, and fumbled around in the dark vehicle, feeling for the keys.

“Ah, there you are,” he said, as he felt the key-chain beneath his fingers. “You can’t hide from me!” And fitting the keys into the ignition, the firefighter started his truck.

With a Bang! and a lurch, he was off! The garage door opened automatically, and he sped through the streets to the location of the fire. The truck rattled as he drove over the rough brick streets, and the truck glided smoothly over the new pavement of the other streets. Finally the firefighter arrived at the location of the fire. The new bank stood there, shining bright with its fresh coat of paint, but the firefighter could see smoke coming out of the windows and doors. The fire was definitely here. He began to open the door – but his intercom began to make noises. Tszzt! Tzssit! The static sounded, and then the firefighter heard a voice.

“Hello there, firefighter!” the voice said.

“Hello?” he replied.

“This is the Chief of Police speaking. We’ll take care of the fire – it’s much too important for you to handle. Let the professionals handle this.”

“But -“

“No excuses,” the voice had replied, “we’ll take care of this one.”

“Alright, alright,” the firefighter had said, sighing.

Several minutes had passed by the time he got off the intercom.

As he sat waiting, worry gnawed at his insides. What if they didn’t get here in time? The firefighter tried to convince himself that what he was doing was right. After all, if this was as big as they said, this was a job for the police. And he was just following orders. It wouldn’t be his fault if the fire escaped. Looking out of his window, he saw a scoundrel across the street. The scoundrel grinned knavishly at him.

Several more minutes passed.

As he sat there, a civilian rushed out of the building and drew his attention.

“Help! Help!” he cried. “The fire is out of control! Please stop it!”

Without a word, the firefighter began to open his door again, but then the scoundrel, who had walked across the street, spoke.

“Come on, you shouldn’t go in there,” the scoundrel said, grinning, stuffing his hands in his pockets. From within the depths of his pockets, he revealed a bag. “Why help with the fire when you can profit from it? We could make so much money from this. Let’s just stuff all the cash left in there in the bag. The authorities will be distracted with the fire, and we can grab ourselves some cash.”

The firefighter stopped getting out of his car. It certainly would be profitable, and nobody would notice if he just quietly went into the building and took some money when there wasn’t anyone looking. No! What was he thinking? He wasn’t going to do that. And he wasn’t going to listen to the police! He was going to stop that fire from robbing the bank! But…

And as he thought this, even more time passed.

Finally making up his mind, the firefighter decided to stop the fire once and for all. He wasn’t going to let other people tell him what to do anymore! He opened his door and jumped out of the truck. As he turned around, however, he noticed a trail of embers on the ground. Staring open mouthed, the firefighter saw the fire he was trying to catch jump in a van and drive away with multiple bags stuffed full of money.

The firefighter hung his head in shame. Because he had listened to other people rather than his own sense of morality, the fire had gotten away with all the money in the bank. He had learned his lesson, though.

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