Abe swore under his breath and reached for the landline phone again. He dialled the emergency services. The second a voice answered, Abe barked into the phone ‘Fire! At the old Asylum!’ Then he threw the phone down and grabbed the mini fire extinguisher off the wall.
Scooping up the ring of keys and torch with his other hand, Abe dashed outside. The wind howled around him, threatening to throw him back inside. Rain lashed against his face, blinding him and soaking straight through his shirt and trousers. The idea of going back for his coat flashed in his mind but then Abe looked upwards and saw the fire flicking in the middle left window.
Abe battled on and went to the side door. Doing everything by feel then sight, Abe put the extinguisher between his knees and wrestled with the keys. He found the right on and slotted it in. Going in, the wind tried to tear the door off it’s hinges, but Abe managed to close it behind him. Leaving the door unlocked, Abe turned the torch on before racing though the small corridor and out into the main hall.
The scent of smoke drifted down the staircase and stuck in Abe’s nose. He went up the stairs. The keys jingling loudly and the extinguisher letting off a metallic din every once in a while. Rain water dripped off Abe and dotted the steps with droplets. He ignored everything and focused solely on getting to the fire. At the top of the staircase, he turned left and rushed up.
Skidding to a stop, he tried to catch his breath as his eyes took in what was before him. There was no fire on the hallway. He walked slowly over, his hands and legs feeling numb. He shone the torch around and saw nothing had been disturbed and there were no markings on the floor. The torch began to shake in his hand and Abe wondered if his mind had finally gone.
He shut his eyes and took deep lungfuls of mould, rot and dust contaminated air. A linger of smoke still seemed to be there. Feeling calm and in control again, Abe opened his eyes and really used the torch to look. He flashed the light over the floor, walls and stairs then he swept back to the window. The torch beam came to a pause.
There was a white candle in a Victorian bronze holder slightly smoking on the window sill.
Abe shuffled forward and looked hard. His eyes were not tricking him. The candle was there and had recently been blown out. Maybe by his own movements. Abe looked out of the window and could see the lights of the security cabin in the grounds below. Water clung to the window back dropped by the dark night. The wind tapped more rain against the glass is it whistled passed.
With his mind slotting things into place, Abe realised the fire he had seen had actually been the flame of the candle pressed against the window. He sigh and felt all the energy drain out of him.
It’s a kid playing tricks or some photographer getting an artist shot, Abe thought, that’s all. No real fire…Where are they now? They’d heard me for sure and taken to hiding again.
Abe turned and took in the view of the main stairs as well as the hallway stretching into the blackness before him. Abe tightened his grip on the torch, keys and fire extinguisher then walked back the way he had come. Carrying everything was making his arms ache and the coldness that had sank into his skin was making it worse.
‘The police are coming! You won’t get away!’ Abe yelled.
To Be Continued…