Marcus and Shelly were cozied up on the same side of the worn, red vinyl booth in their favorite Malt-Stop. They greedily sucked on the candy striped straws climbing out of the same chocolate chip malt. The Malt-Stop was bustling with patrons, everyone excitedly chatting, eating, slurping, laughter, and amicably arguing. The air was full of gaiety and bright, afternoon sunshine.
Marcus stopped sucking on his candy straw and looked at Shelly with a wide grin, his violet eyes glowing with adoration. Large orbs of glimmering emeralds gazed back at him through a thick forest of black lashes. Shelly returned his smile, full pink lips stretched around her own candy straw so she could continue sucking on their chocolatey beverage.
"You'll get a brain freeze if you don't slow down, Shel," Marcus teased. Shelly paused her gluttonous intake long enough to emit a ditzy giggle before hungrily resuming her slurping. Marcus laughed and shook his head at her careless determination. His laughter quickly faded as he began to smell the pungent aroma of burning hair. He grimaced, nostrils wrinkled against the assault of his olfactory senses. He searched the Malt-Stop for the accompanying smoke and flames., failed to distinguish a source from the crowd.
"Do you smell burning hair?" he asked Shelly while still looking for the telltale smoke. Shelly finally ceased her incessant slurping, to tell him she didn't smell anything. Before her lips could form the first syllable, her words were stolen by a wretched scream that seemed to be torn from her larynx. Marcus' head shot around to see why she was screaming and found the source of the smoke and odor. Shelly was engulfed in flames, mouth open wide in painful screams. Saliva steaming is wispy tendrils from her tongue and cheeks. Her pale, pretty flesh was bubbling beneath the inferno. Her beautiful blonde tress, now brown and crispy, curled in defeat like over sautéed onions. Marcus fell from the booth, watching his beloved burn in terrified panic. He was paralyzed by the shock of it all. He desperately wanted to move and help her or, in the least, look away, but he was forced to bear witness to her agony. Too stunned to even complete a thought. Shelly continued to scream. Marcus could sense, rather than see, the diner patrons gathering around their personal tragedy to gape and take pictures. Marcus wished someone would do something, anything! Find a fire extinguisher, turn on the sprinklers, piss on her for fuck's sake. Something to douse the blazing pyre that Shelly had become. Nobody moved to help, just kept stretching their rubber necks to get a better look at the fiery spectacle before them.