The fire was spreading to the acoustic paneling, filling the room with thick, black smoke. Everyone went for the exits at once, and the crowd was bottlenecking at the doors. I began to fear for my life.
Okay... There are way too many people here.
My power of conductive reasoning kicked in just in time, giving me a jolt of lucidity as I struggled against the overcurrent of people. The guest exits were all blocked, but there was a door to the right of the stage that was wide open. The window for escape was narrowing as the flames had now engulfed the whole stage. I made sure to move diagonally, and look for pockets of empty space so I didn’t get crushed.
Sir, this exit's for the band only.
But this is an emergency!
The stagehand reached out to try and grab my arm, but I was able to reflexively pull my arm away. That’s when he lunged toward me to try and tackle me. I dodged.
Please, I'm begging you! Just let me through!
What was I doing? Any time I spent trying to be nice and reason with him could be better spent evacuating. I grabbed one of the big speaker stands and whacked him square in the head, knocking him unconscious. The rush I got from vanquishing this petty villain more than made up for the humiliation of being chased away by that drunk.
As I ran toward the exit, I caught a glimpse of the FACP (a Funwell FZ-2224 two-zone panel) having a practical meltdown, with every light lit up on its display. I looked back to see that the fire had hit its flash point. The whole ceiling was up in flames, and the thick smoke was making it hard to breathe.
Where the hell are the sprinklers when you need 'em?! *GASP*
The supervisory! Somebody must’ve closed the sprinkler valve, causing the fail-safe tamper switch to activate. Right before the door snapped shut, I opened it back up, took a deep breath, and went back inside.
Are you crazy? You're gonna die!
Maybe so, but the fire trucks were still pretty far away judging by the faintness of the sirens. I turned on my flashlight, knelt on the ground, and found the valve in a corner, around ten feet away from the panel. That might sound like a short distance, but all the smoke and falling debris meant it could be a death sentence.
With that in mind, I went from crouching to completely prone, where the air was still relatively clear – hoping nothing would fall on me besides the ashes that were constantly singing my clothes. The thick metal valve had gotten really hot, and having to grip it tightly was excruciating. But it paid off, and water began raining down like the wrath of God from what was left of the ceiling, suffocating some of the flames.
I slithered frantically toward the exit like a lizard, to find at least four fire trucks waiting outside, spraying water from their cannons and offloading an army of menacing-looking firefighting robots sporting tank treads. Police cars were arriving on what looked like a scene out of a movie, and felt equally unreal.
A huge, red pickup truck pulled up right in front of me, beeped a couple times, and stopped dead in its (very thick, muddy) tracks. Out strutted the angel of death herself. She was a tall, very serious-looking woman, sporting a cross-shaped badge on her uniform, and a handgun at her hip. It was the fire marshal, and she was pissed.
Are you just gonna stand there? Either get me the manager, or get out of my way! ... Oh, great. It's you.