Justine stood in the hallway, she took short, shallow breaths, any attempt to breathe deeply resulted in a coughing fit. The house smelt of damp and rot, of old milk and over it all a heavy stench of stale cigarette smoke. The walls were smoke-stained and rubbish was still strewn about the house. She moved deeper into the house, carefully navigating her way through the crowded hallway, her hip brushed against a wall table and the unsteady stack of papers on it fell to the floor, she ignored it as she moved deeper into the house.
She paused in the kitchen, the linoleum flooring which was once white was now a mottled brown, pots and pans were stacked in the sink, bowls and glasses were on the counters in precarious piles. She glanced at the door to the basement and shuddered, she wouldn’t be looking in there. She turned from the kitchen and made her way back to the hallway, there she climbed the stairs and checked the other rooms. Each room was filled with debris, piles of clothes and food wrappers, stacks of newspapers, unopened boxes of cheap things ordered from infomercials and as always, angel statues stared down at it all from their shelves.
Justine looked into the bedroom then turned and made her way back downstairs. There were no keepsakes she wanted from this place, no reminders. Outside she breathed in the fresh air, then she grabbed the petrol can from the car and she went back inside. She started in the kitchen, first she poured it over the door to the basement, she didn’t want to unlock it. As she splashed it about the kitchen she could hear something moving below, she didn’t stop. Once the kitchen was doused she went upstairs and threw some into the bedrooms, then a trail down the stairs and out the door.
Justine threw the petrol can back into the house, then she took out a box of matches, she carefully lit the petrol trail on fire. She watched as the fire spread into the house then she moved away. She waited, watching the thick black smoke billow into the sky, feeling the heat of the fire against her skin, the roar as it consumed the house. Finally it came, a shrill scream from inside the house, it hurt her ears but Justine waited until it finally stopped, then she turned from the burning building and got into her car. She drove away without looking back, what ever that thing in the basement was it was finally gone and it would never hurt anyone again.