The Fire Inside

Lars Thompson opened the fridge and looked for something to eat. It had been several days since he’d had a real meal that didn’t come from a garbage can. Life on the streets had never been easy for him, but he was a survivor.

He carried a package of lunch meat, head of iceberg lettuce, a jar of mayo, and moved the items to the kitchen table.

Grabbing a steak knife, stained with spots of crimson, he went to work on making a sandwich. He slathered mayonnaise on two pieces of rye bread. White was his favorite, but he couldn’t find any in his search of the kitchen. There hadn’t been much food in the house anyway, so his options were limited.

Lars didn’t know where he would go after he left the house. It wasn’t his, but he’d been able to commandeer the two bedrooms, one bath dwelling. It had been the first home he’d seen after getting off the train. The small farming community didn’t have many residents, at least not that he had seen in the middle of the night.

Maybe he’d get a hot shower after his meal. He hadn’t decided. Time was on his side for now, but he didn’t want to push his luck. The sun would be up in a few hours and he needed to be as far away as possible. Running had been his only friend. He hadn’t settled down in one place too long and he wasn’t about to start now.

The sandwich tasted delicious as he woofed it down in several, large bites. It felt good to have something to eat. Several, dirt size crumbs remained on the tabletop—a sad reminder of the life he lived.

He stared at the blood on his clothes. If he wanted to blend in with society, he couldn’t look like he was right out of a horror movie.

He walked across the living room, stepping over the body of an old man, lying in a pool of dried blood. Lars had been able to climb through an open window sometime after midnight. The old man with cropped, white hair had been sleeping on the couch. Infomercials had been muted on the television. Lars crept into the kitchen, grabbed a kitchen knife, and stabbed the guy repeatedly in the neck and chest. The geezer rolled off the couch, his face eating the linoleum.

He went into the master bedroom and removed his clothes. He and the dead man were about the same size and build. He rummaged through the closet, took out a pair of faded blue jeans, a long sleeve flannel shirt and set them on the bed next to a dead woman, lying on her back.

Her face ashen, eyes bulged from the sockets. After he’d killed the man in the living room, he went to both bedrooms. Only the woman, probably the geezers wife was left in the house, snoring. She lay on her back, her hair fanned out, dried bloodstains on her ears, nose, and mouth. Her right leg bent at a right angle. Stab wounds to her neck and abdomen. The left side of her face was crushed, the left eye knocked from the socket and hung just above the pool of blood by the tendons. Then he ransacked the place and took a few pieces of jewelry he might pawn.

He walked into the bathroom and got a shower. The hot water felt very refreshing. The house had been cool, partly due to the cold weather outside, and partly due to the heater in the house didn’t seem to work very well. He’d turned the thermostat to 80 after killing the wife, but the inside never got any warmer than sixty-eight degrees.

After getting dressed in the new digs, he set the house ablaze using lighter fluid from the kitchen. Flames spread across the floor, chewing up curtains along the back wall. The fire quickly spread. Black smoke billowed to the ceiling. Burning furniture smelled like a campfire. He closed the door behind him and walked into the cold, dark, night.

He shivered as a strong gust howled in his ears, the cold biting into his skin. He looked over his shoulder and watched as the inferno ate up the outside of the small home. Several neighbors had ventured outside, but they didn’t look in his direction.

In the distance, a fire truck siren sliced through the wind.

Time to move onto another city.