Saturday 5 – Thursday 17 March 2011
Toby sat in the car watching the flames engulf the building. The bricks would not be able to withstand the intensity of the heat of the fire; the fifty-year-old wood would be the first to go. The flames reflected both colour and heat on Toby’s face, making it appear as though he was glowing.
He could hear the screaming emanating from inside; the boarded up door providing little soundproofing against the tortured screams of the people inside. He didn’t care who else was in there. None of them were important. Nothing was as important as the fire; the flames casting shadows across his face. The longer he sat watching the building burn, the more demonic he looked.
Toby’s lip curled at the corner, and he, lizard-like, licked his lips and broadened that sneer into a grotesque grimace. He liked watching the flames. They excited him, but not in the same way that they excited real arsonists. He wasn’t a real arsonist. He’d only set the three fires. And after tonight, he needn’t set any more.
Taking a long last look, Toby started the engine and drove away from the building. He was sure that someone must have already seen the flames and called emergency services. The Fire Department would be here soon, he thought, and he needed to be as far away from the building as possible. The last thing he wanted was to be implicated in the fire.
By the time the Fire Department arrived at the bar, there was nothing anyone could do. The roof had collapsed; the external walls, despite being brick, had been badly burned; and the wood struts and features were nothing more than ash, and the fire had burned itself out. Finnegan’s Bar and Grill was now more grilled than bar, and anyone who may have been inside at the time of the fire, would have had no chance to survive. It was now a matter for the fire investigators to establish how a bar, out in the middle of nowhere, had caught fire and burned to the ground.
‘Over here,’ called one of the firemen.
Lieutenant Andy Collins moved cautiously to where the fireman had indicated. Collins had been newly promoted in the Fire Department, and this was his first suspicious fire as a Lieutenant. He was nervous about taking charge of the investigation, because he desperately wanted to make a good impression on his new team.
‘Oh Jesus Christ,’ Collins said as he crossed himself. As a devout Catholic, he tried to attend mass every Sunday, but it was becoming harder to do. Fires never took a vacation, and arsonists didn’t schedule fires for nine to five hours on weekdays only. Andy prayed whenever he got the chance.
‘It’s a body, boss,’ said the fireman who requested Andy’s attention.
‘I can see that Anderton. I might be newly promoted, but I’ve been a grunt for longer than you’d realise,’ he didn’t look at Kyle Anderton as he spoke. The guy was less than intelligent, but he had an exceptional record as a fire fighter.
‘Sorry, boss . . . crap, I’ve got another one over here,’ he called to Collins.
Andy looked in Kyle’s direction, and sighed. ‘There’s not just one there, Kyle. Looks like a group of four or five. According to the owner, that’s where the front door was. Seems they were trying to escape.’
Kyle pointed to another group of bodies. ‘Three more over there, boss.’
Collins totalled the number of corpses that Kyle Anderton had just discovered. Eight in all. Eight, so far. Collins wondered how many more they would find once the clean up began.
‘Glad we got here when we did. The smell of the burning flesh would have been hard to handle,’ Andy said quietly to Kyle, who nodded his understanding.
‘What do you want us to do, boss?’ Kyle asked.
Andy was considering the corpses. They’d all been at Finnegan’s for a good time, and none of them would have had any idea what was about to happen.
‘I’ll arrange for the other boys from my team to get some pictures of the site. I don’t want anything moved yet. Not until my boys have been through. You guys need to stick around in case anything flares up again.’ Andy half-heartedly pointed around the scene, and caught a slight glimpse of a grin on Kyle Anderton’s face.
. . . To be continued . . .