Saturday 5 – Thursday 17 March 2011
It hurt. The pain was unbearable, but she was alive, and for that, she thanked God. She wondered how she’d managed to be lucky enough to survive when all of the others were gone. Had it not been for the bar tender’s panic and inability to move, she doubted that she would have headed behind the bar to the back room in search of a fire extinguisher. Returning to find the front room suddenly engulfed in flames, with a little dumb luck, she was able to force her way out of a small window in the back room.
The intensity of the fire surprised her. She’d heard about the velocity with which fires could take hold of buildings, but this was unexpected.
Falling through the small window, she’d landed heavily on her right ankle. She had been so engrossed in the agony of having rolled her ankle that she wasn’t aware that her jacket had caught fire, and was burning through her skin. When she realised what had happened, she’d sustained third degree burns on her left shoulder and arm.
Fleeing the flaming Finnegan’s Bar and Grill, Brooke Henley, in immense pain, drove herself to hospital. The staff knew her reasonably well. She had presented many times over the last eighteen months, with a variety of injuries that indicated to the doctors that she was a victim of abuse. She’d never pressed charges or identified the person who had beaten her to a pulp on more than one occasion, but most in town knew that Toby Oliver was to blame.
It was also going to be common knowledge that there was a fire the night that Brooke arrived at the hospital. She would have to cultivate some sort of excuse for her injuries, but for the moment, she would simply say that she didn’t remember. Naturally, the hospital staff would assume that it was Toby. And Brooke knew that Toby was involved in the Finnegan’s fire.
She’d discovered that Toby had been lighting fires for years. It wasn’t just the endless stream of women that bothered her, it was the fact that he was obsessed with fire. His strange behaviour had drawn her attention, and she decided to follow him one night. Appalled by what she saw, Brooke chose to keep his secret, until the warehouse fire that cost the lives of the homeless people. Then she knew she had to do something.
Now, Brooke sat in her apartment wondering why she ever kept Toby’s horrendous secret. She was as much at fault for the deaths of the people in the warehouse as what Toby was, and she needed to make amends. Her warped sense of justice had reared its ugly head, and she’d set about seeking justice for the wrongs that she’d allowed to occur.
Doctor Jeremy Anderson was going to report Brooke’s injury to the police. He had to, morally and ethically. Brooke had presented at his hospital with terrible burns on the night of a deliberately set fire at a local bar. Jeremy Anderton was a casualty of the war that Brooke was waging against her ex-boyfriend. If Brooke was to have her revenge on Toby, Anderton had to be hushed. So, she set about implicating Toby in the fire that killed the doctor.
. . . To be continued . . .