There was a man came to a small town. Who this figure was, and where he came from remains a mystery to this day. He was a pale man, maybe somewhere in his mid-60s. He had thin strands of hair bleached white. His face was skeletal in appearance. His cheekbones were a prominent feature; his eyes were sunken and yellow. Startlingly, he had a wide smile that wrapped around his head. The smile was... off-putting to say the least. He approached me in the fields and told me something strange.

"This town is marked for destruction. Run."

He then shuffled away aimlessly almost as though even standing upright hurt him. He staggered on as though he did not possess feet into the tall grass of the fields. I raced after him to make him give me further information about the city's destruction, but he disappeared without a trace.

Odd occurrences befell the town after he paid it a visit. The town prided itself on its apple orchards which served as the main source of income for the town. And yet, as if overnight, the town's crops became brown and dead. The leaves withered and dropped in great clumps. The ground beneath the trees cracked and was depleted of its nutrients. In fact, strangely, the grass and all of the vegetation in the town began to die when the man first visited. I remember when I talked with him, the grass died underneath his feet.

The livestock grew sick and slowly began to die. My worst memory was that of the cattle. The cows were emaciated from malnutrition. Their ribcages were visible. Some even struggled to walk in a straight line only to fall over. Vultures became unwelcome pests and fed on the dying cattle.

It was a month of this until it happened. Some boys hoarded some fireworks that they got through underhanded means and lit them in celebration of the annual founding of the town. One spark was all that was needed. Within seconds, the fire spread through the grass, picking up fuel from engulfing the apple trees. The entire orchard was draped in flames. I was eating dinner alongside my Mom, Dad, and little sisters when I heard the blaring of the siren. That was when that man's warning replayed in my mind. I got my family out of the house, and we got into the car.

We found ourselves at a hotel in the town over. Word about the damage done was unsettling. Of the town, my family was the only one that managed to escape. There were roughly 200 citizens of the town, but all that could be found of them were their bodies. They were burned to a coal-black crisp, their teeth serving as the only identifying trait. Dozens of families were burned alive in their homes, as though they were blissfully unaware of what was to happen to them. The town was remodeled into a mass cemetery dedicated to the lives lost.

Written by AustinDR
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