Trauma Llama – Halloween fire mayhem with S. H. Aeschliman

It’s been a while since the last Trauma Llama. So when S. H. Aeschliman told me she had a traumatic Halloween tale, I said WRITE IT NOW 😉 (well, it was a bit less dramatic than that). But…she did! And she bravely sent it to me for posting. So check out her website, or follow her: Twitter and Facebook.

Before I get to the trauma, check out her short story “Zombie”:

A young woman is faced with a difficult decision: kill and eat her only companion – her dog – or risk losing the chance to escape her zombie-ridden city? “Zombie” is a post-apocalyptic short story about surviving vs. thriving in our dehumanized society.

Published in three parts on The Darker Half.

Here’s S. H.’s Halloween Trauma Llama tale:

Halloween 2006. I set my head on fire. Don’t worry; it wasn’t part of my costume. Just an accident. Here’s how it happened.


I was at my mom’s house out in the boonies in Central Oregon. I don’t remember where she was, but she wasn’t home. I do remember that it was after dark, I wasn’t expecting any more trick-or-treaters, it was freezing-ass cold out, and I thought it’d be nice to have a fire in the fireplace.


My mom’s fireplace was new, nice. It was both gas and wood-burning, which was awesome because you didn’t have to dink around with kindling or sit there nursing a baby flame ‘til the logs caught fire; you could just turn on the gas, click the lighter thingy to ignite the gas, and let it work on the logs ‘til they caught fire and then turn off the gas. I’d seen Mom do it plenty of times. Piece of cake.


Except, when I clicked the lighter thingy it didn’t light.


Click. Click. Click.


Maybe I needed to turn up the gas a little more?


Click. Click…Click.


Nope, that didn’t do it. I turned off the gas. Looked down the barrel of the lighter thingy.




It lit. Well, shit, I thought. Let’s try this again. Turned on the gas. Stuck the lighter thingy back in there, leaning forward so I could get a good look.




Nothing. Dammit. Turned up the gas again.


Click. Click. Click…Click. Click. Click. Click.


WTF is wrong with this thing?!? Oh, wait. Look. There’s a bunch of ash covering up the tube where the gas comes out. Maybe that’s the problem.


I swept the ash away from the gas line. Without turning off the gas. By this point, the gas had been on for about five minutes.


Click. Click. Click…Click.


Nothing. Sigh. Okay, deep breath. Try this one more time.


I leaned further into the fireplace, making sure this time I was pressing down really firmly on the top button, and pulled the trigger.




A wall of flames came arching out at my face. With tiger-like instincts, I lowered my chin to my chest while launching myself backwards away from the fireplace and yelling, “AAAAUUUGGGHHHH!!!!” I heard sizzling and smelled burnt hair.


With shaking hand I reached up to touch my face. It felt fine, normal. I felt for my eyelashes and was relieved to find them still there. Thankful I had put my hair back in a ponytail, I brushed my hand along the top of my head. It came away covered in burnt hair.


“AAAAUUUGGGHHHH!!!!” I screamed again, running to the bathroom mirror.


Luckily it wasn’t that bad. Just the very top layer of hair burnt off. Aside from the really short pieces around my face, you couldn’t even tell anything had happened. And it only took six months or so for the hair to grow out sufficiently to erase all traces.


Still, it was traumatic. I mean, I haven’t stuck my head in a fireplace since.


Now *I’ll* never stick my head in a fireplace!
Do you have a Trauma Llama story you’d like to share? Prod me on Twitter (@AnyaBreton) or e-mail me anya at 🙂

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