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By Laura Wilson
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Four. That house,’ he pointed to the ruin, ‘was empty. ’ He pointed further down to where a couple of wardens, identifiable by the glint of moonlight on their white tin hats, could be dimly seen knocking on doors and chalking walls if the occupants were present and unharmed. Stratton wondered about the efficacy of this - most of the street appeared to be gathered around the crater - but said nothing. Donald appeared at his elbow. ‘A Mrs Ingram at the end, apparently. Neighbour said she’s not been there long.
A light, reckless feeling, an exultation such as he hadn’t experienced in a long time. When they reached their garden gate he stopped and pulled Jenny round to face him. He could see, from the way her eyes sparkled, that she was experiencing something similar. ‘We’re alive,’ he said, drawing her towards him. ’ Jenny put her hands on his arms. ‘I was so worried. We could see all this earth going into the hole, and people kept saying it was going to collapse on top of you . . Doris kept telling me you’d be OK, but I don’t think she believed it, and we really thought .
In front of it, a broken gas main flared, sending little rivulets of fire along the ground. ‘Watch where you’re treading,’ Stratton said, as they went over to join the band of onlookers who were being held back by several wardens. The clanging noise grew louder and then stopped abruptly as a fire engine pulled up and AFS men jumped off and began scrambling over the rubble, shouting to each other as they tried to locate the source of the gas leak. ’ Jenny’s sister, Doris, and her husband Donald appeared, looking dishevelled.
An Empty Death by Laura Wilson