Everything was orange and red-nothing was left untouched. Kenny looked around, fear gripping him and leaving him unable to move. "Mom?" he called. "Dad?" He received no answer, and he grew even more worried. He looked around, but all he could see were the flickering flames, lashing at him, taunting him. He swallowed hard, unable to breath properly. 'Don't ever lose your head in an emergency…it could cost you your life. Leave without us,' a small voice said in his head. He heard, and he was obedient. With one last frantic glance for his parents, Kenny turned to where he knew the front door was and opened it. "I hope you're alright," he whispered softly to his parents, wherever they were, and closed the door behind him.

As soon as he was out, a paramedic ran over to his side. "Are you alright, son?" he asked, concerned. Kenny nodded, but winced when a flash of pain ran through his hands. "Here, let me see your hands."

He held them out and grimaced at the sight. His hands were burnt, and they hurt, but at least it wasn't anything serious. The paramedic opened his first-aid kit and took out some medicine and bandages, then quickly wrapped his hands up.

"There. It'll be good as new soon." He smiled at the 12 year old. "Now why don't you run along and find your parents?"

He nodded, but inside, he screamed, 'I can't…they're DEAD! I can't find them if they're dead, goddamn it!' But he didn't say that out loud; he knew that if he did, he'd be sent to an orphanage, and that was the last place he wanted to be. So instead, he turned without a word and headed over to the nearest McDonalds.

The first thing Kenny did when he got through the doors was to head to the bathroom. He looked at himself in the mirror, sighing softly. 'God, I look old,' he thought silently. 'This isn't me…' His blonde hair had somehow turned a weird light blue, and his eyes…oh, his eyes. Before, they were blue, but now they were…what? silver. Silver with weird dancing specks in them. 'Gold, I think. Gold or something.' Kenny sighed again, but for some reason, he felt no anger, like all those authors who wrote books said there was. All he felt was a great loss and a feeling of wistfulness. For what, though? The death of his parents? The loss of a home? He shook his head and went out.

As he walked down the aisle, Kenny was conscious of the other people's eyes on him. He kept his eyes on the door, never looking at the diners around him. 'Stop staring! I'm just a 13-year-old kid! Nothing special.' But deep inside, he knew he was now different. He now knew death, change, and loss. And his new hair-of course people would stare! Kenny pushed open the door with a halfway violent shove and walked out, slamming the door behind him.


1 year later:

Kenny hurried down the long, narrow aisles, looking only every now and then at the assortment of things put out for sale. Beads, fruits, live chickens, blankets, everything possible was sold at the market. But he already knew what he needed, and so he hurried, trying to hide himself from the other shoppers. After a few minutes, he reached the stall he was aiming for and stopped, fingering his coins. 'Remember, you only have $2 left for food, today,' he reminded himself. He picked up a small red apple and examined it. "Only 25 cents." Kenny looked up to see the merchant smiling at him.

"I only have $2, and this needs to last a week, at least."

"Well, since you used to work for me, I'll give you 12 for $2. It won't last a week, but that's the best I can do." Kenny thought it over, and finally accepted.

As the man went off to find a bag, a little kid and his mother came over to stand next to him. The kid looked up at him, and a look of surprise crossed his face. "Mommy, look. The boy has silver eyes!"

His mother glanced at him, and her eyes widened. She tugged her kid's hand and led him away. As they left, Kenny could hear her say, "Todd, don't you ever go near him again, you hear? Who knows what kind of disease he has-it might be contagious."

Just then, the merchant came back with the bag of apples in his hand. "Here you go. See you again soon!" Kenny left, a stony expression on his face. Before he was completely out of hearing range, the man called out after him, "Be careful, you hear? Be careful!"

He sighed inwardly. 'That's all I've been doing for the past year, buddy.' Kenny was almost near the end of the row when a stall caught his eye. He turned towards the old man behind the booth, quickly examining the objects for sale.

"Hey there, youngin'." The man smiled, showing golden teeth that gleamed in the sunlight. "You see anything you like? Sale going on, you know."

Kenny reached out a hand and picked up a pair of visors. "How much are these?" he asked, fingering the silver outline.

"$0.50. Cheapest you're going to find around here," was the answer.

"Maybe it's becuase the helmet's missing..."

The merchant grinned sheepipshly. "Ah, well, there's that."

He gave him a slightly disdainful look, then dug into his pocket and extracted two quarters. "I'll take them," Kenny said, slapping them down in front of the big man.

The embarrased look disappeared from the merchant's face, and he smiled broadly again. "Hope you're happy with what you bought. Good bye and have a nice day!"

Kenny nodded, turned, and left.

A few minutes later, Kenny turned up the alley and unlocked the door to his building.

The shack wasn't so much his as it was the government's, but Kenny had claimed it for himself a few months back, and he liked to call it home. He'd fixed it up a bit and dusted everything, and found it quite livable.
He flicked the switch and turned on the lights, blinded briefly. After adjusting, he went to where he kept his stuff and folded it all as neatly as he could manage. Opening a cloth sack, Kenny stuffed it all in. As soon as he was packed, he swung the bag over his shoulders and walked out, never looking back.