Judgement. Short Story.

Happy Halloween!

My week has been fairly standard so far, went out yesterday and met up with some friends for coffee, it was quite enjoyable, though I was absolutely freezing when walking around town. Doing work at the moment during my reading week, catching up on a few assignments and getting books read, so productive!

Hope everyone has a great night and the rest of the week goes well!

On with the show!



It was perfect really. It couldn’t have been planned better. There was a power cut and the entire area was dark, no streetlights, no house lights, nothing. Even the moon had been covered by clouds. At least winter was good for something this year. The house was in complete darkness, no flickering candles, no shining torch light, nothing. They were probably all asleep. Even better. Her supplies were on the ground, waiting for her to start. She took a deep breath, the air was cold, it was nice, calming. She shouldn’t be doing this, but she had to. She had good reasons. She shook her head. Of course she did. Everyone has their reasons for doing things. It doesn’t make them right. No. This was the best course of action for everyone. Ok, so a few innocent people might get hurt, but it was better in the long run. She would save more people than she would injure. She was wearing black clothes, her black hoodie zipped up, underneath which hid a white t-shirt. It would help her get away. Her hair was tied back at the moment, though once done she would free it from the bobbin. The wind blew gently, tugging at the wisps of hair that hadn’t been captured. They tickled at her face. She bent down and opened the box, everything was there. It was perfect. She stood again and studied the house, trying to figure out the best point to start at. The shattering of the window would probably wake them. That was the only danger. She wanted it to be quick, she didn’t want them to know what was happening. There were a few windows, perhaps they were not locked correctly, but getting too close could be pushing it. She looked down at her supplies. No. It would be fine. It would have to be. She’d make it quick. The faster the better. She picked up one of the bottles, feeling the weight of it in her palm. Even with her gloves the bottle felt cold. She took another breath, then dug around in her pocket. She took out her lighter and lit it. She watched the flame for a second before holding it to the rag. It caught almost instantly, a geyser of righteous judgement. She held her breath and threw it. The sound of shattering glass broke the silence, far louder than she had thought, flames danced inside, already thick black smoke was boiling from the window. Bending, she grabbed the others and started to light and throw, getting a steady rhythm. She didn’t know how long she was doing it before she ran out of them. Time had grown meaningless. The house was still silent. She knew they were in there, they had to have heard the breaking glass. The fire was getting higher, brighter, casting wild shadows around the house. Soon people would wake and look to see what it was. She looked down at the box and the final container. She opened it and let it drop into the box, then she stripped her gloves and put them in too, carefully she held the lighter to the edge of one of the flaps, waiting until it caught. It didn’t take long for the entire box to go up in flames. Good. The evidence was gone. She took one last look at the burning house and in it’s glow she turned, briefly silhouetted, and began to run. She didn’t run for long, only enough to get her away. It would be suspicious if someone saw her running away from the fire. As she walked she unzipped her hoodie and shoved her hands into her pockets. She hoped she didn’t smell of petrol. She couldn’t smell it off herself, but that meant little. Her cheeks were flushed, both from excitement and the cold. She had done it. She had really, really done it. She realised that she never thought she would go through with it, still hadn’t, until the flaming bottle left her hand. It was done now. She was strong enough to do it. She slowed her pace a little, she didn’t have too much further to walk. She remembered her hair was still tied back, quickly, she undid it and shook it out slightly. She didn’t think anyone saw her, at least, if anyone did they didn’t cry out or try to stop her.
When she got to her car she sat in and turned the heater on full blast, as she drove the car heated nicely. She drove calmly, like she would drive if it was just a normal everyday night, because after all, that’s all it was. No one stopped her on the drive. When she got home she went inside and lit some candles. It didn’t take her too long to get them lit, she used her lighter to light the scented candles in the living room, with those lit she was able to find some of the larger, unscented ones that would give off more light. It wasn’t long before the living room was well lit. She looked at the fire, the dancing flames, remembering the house. She wasn’t tired, she wondered if she would sleep well. She hadn’t noticed outside, but now it was becoming obvious, her clothes smelled of smoke and as she feared, there was a faint scent of petrol. She stripped and changed, though the smell was on her skin there was little she could do about it now. She wanted a shower, but it was an electric one. She considered using a washcloth and the sink, then decided against it. It would just be a bit more washing when the power came back on. She took her clothes and put them in the washing machine, she’d do them first, then the bed sheets.

She smiled, she was free, free from it all. It had worked. She knew she’d get away with it. There was no way they could catch her, there was nothing at all the would link her to the crime. It was done. Finally.

She blew out all but one of the candles and went upstairs, after closing the curtains she extinguished the final candle and got into bed. She lay in the darkness, her eyes open but unseeing. The smell of smoke filled the room, but beneath it was something harsher. She turned onto her side and closed her eyes.

A child, young, smiling, laughing, playing. A woman, walking with the child, a little boy, she was smiling too.

She opened her eyes, feeling sick. It was necessary. It had to be done. She turned over again, closing her eyes.

The woman and boy, then he was there. Hugging them. They were bright and happy, he was dark and full of rage, but they couldn’t see it. He held them close. She watched, aware of the sins he had committed, his wife unaware of the monster she held. Flames, bright, burning, consuming them, he held the woman and the child tight as they struggled and tried to break free, the flames caressing their bodies, blackening and stripping their flesh, their skin melting, flowing downwards like wax. Even as he too burned he held them. The woman and child screamed.

Her eyes opened, she was breathing heavily, the room was thick with the smell of smoke, so much of it. She flung back the covers and ran to the window, opening it she stuck her head outside, taking great lungfuls of cold air. Her skin broke into goose bumps, but the smell was gone. Her skin was damp with sweat, thin strands of hair stuck to it. Something was in the back of her throat. She wretched, nothing coming up. She was shaking. It had to be done. She took another breath and closed the window.

She did what she had to do.


About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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