K err shuffled backwards down the corridor in a low crouch, gently pouring petrol over the bare floorboards. The wood would burn quickly, he knew, but not as quickly as carpet. Someone had stripped out all the floor coverings, along with the furniture and pictures that had once lined the walls. It was a nice house, thought Kerr, as he shuffled and poured, and it would make a lovely fire.
The petrol fumes were making him a little light-headed. He loved the smell of petrol almost as much as he loved the smell of burning matches, but petrol fumes came with a price: a searing headache that sometimes hung around for days.
He reached the bedroom where he’d seen the candlelight through the window. Kerr could hear voices inside and that confused him because he’d thought that Nightingale was alone in the house. He couldn’t hear what was being said but it didn’t matter anyway. He continued backing down the corridor towards the stairs.
Kerr had calculated it perfectly and as he reached the top of the stairs he poured the last of the petrol onto the floorboards. He took a step back, put down the can and took out his box of Swan Vestas. He shook the box, then slid it open and selected a match. He sniffed the match and felt the muscles in his groin contract. He took a deep breath and gasped as the petrol fumes filled his lungs. He took another step back, struck the match and flicked it down the corridor. It span through the air, and as it hit the floor the petrol ignited with a whooshing sound like a train rushing down a tunnel.
Kerr wanted to stay and watch the flames but he forced himself to pick up the can and walk down the stairs.