Horse and rider galloped off into the night. While Mrs. Grant and Mrs. McLeod watched them go, Adam and Justin sneaked to the rear of the cottage, with Kim behind them. Despite the roaring flames in the front, the back was quiet, with masses of smoke pouring from under the door.
“Remember to stay as low as you can,” Justin instructed, taking charge of the operation. “Smoke rises so there’ll be cleaner air near the floor. Put your masks on.”
Kim and Adam did so.
“Here goes,” said Justin, and he and Adam slammed at the door with their shoulders, breaking the flimsy lock.
The trio fumbled their way into the kitchen, coughing and wheezing from the thick smoke billowing around them. On hands and knees, they felt their way along the passage until Adam stumbled on something. He looked down. Terence lay sprawled on the floor.
“Here he is!”
Adam grabbed what he thought was a leg, but it was an arm. Kim and Justin scrambled toward him, each grabbing a limb. Having devoured each room with alarming speed, the flames had almost reached them now and the heat was intense. The fire made unearthly sounds, roaring and growling like a hungry beast. The thud of timber falling as the roof began to cave in spurred them on.
Adam couldn’t believe they were in such a terrifying situation. He struggled to breathe, even with his dampened cotton mask. His eyes stung and watered from the smoke; he could barely see as they hauled Terence from the passage and into the kitchen.
Kim and Justin were just shapes crouched in the thick smoke next to him. Justin screamed, “Pull!” several times. They heaved repeatedly until finally they fell out of the kitchen door, dragging Terence’s body. The kitchen windows exploded behind them in a shower of blackened glass.
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