Keith Malcolm was born in rural Ohio in 1946, at the end of the Second World War. Keith was a quiet child, and was diagnosed with an extremely rare case of pyromania. This case of pyromania would cause Keith’s mind to enter a state of brief psychosis, having him dance and laugh uncontrollably in his state of euphoria and see wild and mystical colours sweep over his vision as he saw flames dance in front of him.
At the age of four Keith would steal his father’s lighter and set the trees beside their house ablaze, usually resulting in the fire department showing up to deal with Keith’s outbursts. He was born in a very abusive household, always having his drunken father show up from work and taking swings at his mother. Keith’s father happened to be a fireman, and it was he who would always deal with Keith’s obsession. Every day when Keith’s father walked through the door in the evenings, his mother made him scurry upstairs to his room and wait until his dad settled down.
Keith always had his favourite stuffed unicorn toy his mother bought for him when he was a baby, every time he went to his room he would sit in his bed and embrace the toy with tears welling in his eyes. Keith missed the days when his father had a steady job and drank a lot less; he would always ask his stuffed unicorn if he could use his magic to make his dad go away. Keith’s father however would never go away, as the beatings he would give his mother would become more brutal as the years progress.
When Keith got older his obsession began to take more macabre aspects, sometimes capturing animals in traps he made himself and burning them alive. Keith smiled as he danced in the bright pink wonderland that formed around him as the animal burned and Keith knew that not only he was happy, but the animal was too. In Keith’s world, he could escape his own life and enjoy his fictional paradise. Keith thought to himself “Why can’t others share in it too?”
On the night of September 20th 1962, Keith’s father had shown up from work madder than he had ever seen him before. Like the usual routine, Keith would hide in his room and wait. Keith would keep a blank expression on his face until his father got tired and walked away, which was usually when his mother would tell him it was safe. This time however when the screaming subsided, there was no voice heard from his mother downstairs. Keith grabbed his stuffed toy and silently walked down the steps.
His mother was lying in a bloody heap on the floor with both eyes focused on Keith. Keith stepped closer to her and kneeled beside her. His mother stroked his cheek and said to Keith “R-r-r-run…” and then she was gone.
A rage like no other flooded over Keith, and he grabbed an empty wine bottle and jerry can full of gas from the garage. He took one of the dishrags from the sink and soaked the end in gasoline, filled the bottle to the brim with gas, and stuffed the cloth in the top of the bottle. Keith walked down the hallway in the most menacing fashion as he lit the end of the protruding cloth. When Keith got to his father’s room he awoke the drunken retch as he smashed the door down with all his might. He then chucked the Molotov as hard as he could directly at his father’s forehead, and when it smashed his father instantly burst into flames. Keith smiled, as the screams of pain his father wailed in this reality were in fact laughter and happiness to Keith. The rest of Keith’s house was coming down very fast due to the fire spread by his dad. Quickly he grabbed his father’s fire axe, gas mask, and fireman’s suit. He put the mask on his face then proceeded to equip the suit.
He neglected to notice the not yet ignited gas-tank next to his truck, and lit a match to admire the flame. The fumes and fire from the house and match caused the tank to explode violently and douse Keith in gas and fire. He screamed muffled cries as the suit and mask grew hot, and felt warm melted rubber flow down his throat. His lungs felt heavy and hot; in a panic he grabbed his face and tugged at his mask and suit to quell the colours that were consuming his body. He ran like a lunatic to the pond beside his house and jumped in. The colours in his mind had dulled down at last, and he looked at the sky above… to notice it was… pink… he laughed and laughed as he saw the world around him… a wild paradise of happiness.
The minute he set his body ablaze was when something clicked in him; he looked around and saw the world in vibrant colours and bright sounds of laughter and singing…. His suit was forever stuck to him, and Keith felt his lungs happily inhale the smoke from the ruins of his house. He finally looked up at the beautiful sky above him, exhaled, and cried a muffled shout of over-ecstatic laughter.
“I need to share this happiness with the world!” he thought as he looked at his scorched unicorn doll.
Five towns burned the night his house went up in smoke… Keith’s mind was forever lost in the flames that burned his world to the ground…