Fire; one of the most interesting and useful discoveries in history. Unfortunately it’s also the most destructive. With these factors in mind fire can be used scientists to heat chemicals to create life-saving medication. Or, fire can be used to destroy something.
So it is in the interest of the common man that fire, if used destructively, should be used by professionals. Standing in the scorched building I concluded that's not what happened here.
The furniture, the roof and the family photos that once adorned the mantelpiece were all ash in front of us. It was one of the worst case scenarios. Multiple sources of fire spreading throughout the building, bringing the once sturdy structure to its knees. The building was far away from any fire station or any city for that matter. The only reason we discovered the fire so soon was because someone was able to see the smoke from the city border. That's how massive the inferno was. A devastating amount of destruction, consuming the past.
Luckily, there weren't any bodies. It could be written up as someone leaving for a weekend, but left the stove turned on. I didn't see it that way. I believed it was arson. That was the only explanation I saw for so many fires starting at once. 'Idle hands became the Devil's playthings' was a phrase often used around the station. People having nothing good to do tended to do bad things. To themselves or to others. This fire was part of many strings of arson attempts throughout the state.
The 'idle hands' phrase applied to many cases in my work, but this one was the clearest. The only job left to do was inform the house owner. We all searched the house for anything that could be traced to the victim, but we were coming up short. Fire made my job difficult. The burning smell filled my lungs and coughing fits ensued. I walked through what would have been the front door back towards the cars for a breather.
The News crew didn't help much either. They trampled through the crime scene before the police even got here. Having received their footage they waited for a statement from one of the officers. I ordered them to keep their mouths shut. I told the media to leave.
A statement would be issued once the crime scene has been thoroughly investigated. It was always the same thing, but this time they felt more insistent. Probably because of the long drive up the road from the city was a pain in the neck and they didn't want to go back empty handed.
They did not like to hear that and did not even want to consider it. They wanted something juicy so they could get payed a little extra. However, I am a very stubborn man and my officers followed orders without question. The new crew grunted in disapproval realizing that they weren't going to get such news.
The crew left us in peace and quiet. The firemen returned with a smaller truck. Having put out the fire the large truck left back for the city in case of another emergency. Two firemen climbed out of the red vehicle and handed out masks so we didn't choke on the ash that rose up like a deathly cloud.
I stepped back into the house and ran my boot through the ash till something caught my eye. Something eventually stuck out. It was a tin. Badly burnt, slightly melted, but it made it through the fire. I picked it up and tried opening it. The lid was fused shut. I walked over to a solid piece of ground, put it down and stamped on it.
The poorly welded metal crumbled like rust, revealing the tins contents. I looked back at everyone else as they searched and when I was sure nobody was watching I squatted down and looked inside.
There were notes and letters. All pieces of paper were rolled and stuffed haphazardly into the tin. As if the person was in a hurry or didn't care much for what was written on them. Taking them out I was shocked to see drawings and diagrams of destructive tools.
Bombs and devices that would create fires. The more I went through the more complex and untraceable they became. I pride myself with some knowledge on pyrotechnics having once worked as firemen for a few years, but these diagrams were written by a mad man. Eventually I found a different diagram. It was of a house, the layout very familiar. It was the victim’s house I now stood in. Marked with 'X's in certain rooms were labels denoting models of the devices I had just seen. In that moment I stood up and my heart began to race.
What made me sweat was the final diagram. It was the road next to the house. The same road where every police car was parked. Where every ambulance and fire truck waited. 'X's dotted the diagram like stars. I looked around and began to yell, but I was a fool to do so. My reaction seemed to be what started it all. The ground shook violently and a ballistic noise vibrated through the air, piercing my ear drums. A force as strong as a car hit me.
Fires erupted like a volcano, creating a blazing inferno that everyone for miles could see. Debris and shrapnel flew through the air. Cars erupted in the fire only adding to the flames. The concrete foundation of the house crumbled as more damaging explosives below shook them to pieces. I felt myself panic as if it was a war zone and I a greenhorn. After flying through the air I landed on the grass behind the building rolling as rocks and chunks of metal landed around me. I felt smaller ones hit my various limbs, not doing anything except add to the bruises.
However, a cluster of bricks hit my left leg and I felt crunching. In moments all the debris had fallen and my damaged body lay there in agony. I saw the fire reach new heights before it was replaced with smoke. My eyes began to close as I heard distant explosions, far larger than the one that destroyed the crime scene. It might have been sounds my head made up, but I heard them coming from the city. I didn't feel anger in that moment like I did when hearing about the fire.
Only fear for my family as my vision gradually faded to darkness.
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