Reggie’s face lit up in a horrid scowl.
Harry, still unable to free his hand, screamed as the flames bloomed around him, the heat already enough to sear the hairs on the back of his legs.
‘Mammy,’ he screeched, a cry as piteous as any that had ever been heard, and doubled his efforts to free his hand.
The dry wooden floorboards and the beams in the walls were fuel to the hungry flames and the downstairs was a raging inferno within a minute.
‘Cough up or get fucked up,’ Derek grinned, slamming the door shut on the terrified Harry, whose back was now ablaze, his hair and flesh fizzing and crackling like bacon in the pan.
Harry screamed again, his desperate but weak struggles not enough to free himself from the clutch of the heavy oak sideboard.
Screams from upstairs hit their ears as the raging inferno made its way into Harry’s mother’s bedroom.
Derek grinned and proceeded to lean on the fence and watch.
Behind the door, Harry’s struggles and screams intensified.
Through the crackle of the flames, the bloodcurdling screams from upstairs and the approaching sirens, they heard meaty thuds and saw a dark pool begin to spread beneath the door.
‘It’s blood,’ Fiona said, wide-eyed.
Again, the survivor said there was a reflection in that pool and it weren’t that of no man.
Its eyes were aglow like the house, the story goes. But it was smiling. The flames weren’t touching it, it just seemed to walk through ’em like they were nothing.
The screams from upstairs cut off suddenly, horribly.
There was a heavy thud, like part of a body hitting the floor, the story goes.
Then the struggling sounds from the hall abated.
‘Are you happy? He’s dead, you prick,’ Reggie spat.
Derek grinned, and it weren’t the grin of no man. We have that on good authority.
The job was done, or so it seemed.
Derek turned away, the triumphant grin still on his face. Dwight and Fiona followed him, his spineless accomplices in cowardice.
Reggie planted Derek a good one, smashing his nose across his face in a spectacular display of blood and snot. Derek landed on his arse hard, knocking the breath from his body.
By the time Derek regained his senses, Reggie had kicked in the front door, slipping a little in the immense dark pool that coated the floor in the hall. He tripped over something in the hallway.
He’d taken the axe to it in his desperation to get to his mother’s room and save her from the flames.
Reggie followed the trail of blood up those stairs, being careful not to slip in it – his legs and ass were already sore from his first fall. He found Harry by the bedroom door, his bloody stump pressed against the wood as if to batter it open. The door was dented a little, bloody smears across the white-glossed wood.
Then Reggie was being carried away by strong arms. He saw a face distorted by the flames, and he reckoned it was the face of God.
It was the fireman of course.
And Harry’s mother was ok, she’d just realised screaming was using up a hell of a lot of air. She’d laid low, soaked some sheets in the sink in the en-suite – yes, a house that shitty had an en suite – and waited it out.
Miss Hopper shook her head, her face taking on a sorrowful expression.
‘He bled out at the scene. Poor bastard loved his mother so much he died for her and all because of a prank some dumbass kid decided to play.
‘And worst thing is he would’ve been okay if he hadn’t gone in after her. She survived the fire, only to die of a broken heart a few weeks later.
‘But that wasn’t the end of the story…’
So Derek remembered very little about what happened. He was bombed, right?
Dwight and Fiona, they were fucking traumatised by it. Reggie knew he’d done his bit but he was one hell of a nice guy, he couldn’t quite come to terms with it. He kept going round there, leaving flowers and shit. He felt really bad, even though it wasn’t his fault.
Poor sod. Wrong place, wrong time.
Derek never showed any of that, the only thing he seemed to remember was that he had got one over on some poor retarded bastard. The reality that he’d played a big part in his death didn’t really register.
Derek was a master at denying things.
Anyway, Reggie struggled with nightmares, wished he’d done more. Yeah, he was that good a guy. In the end, it drove him crazy.
The others eventually forgot about it.
Till the next Hallowe’en.