Alex stumbled, still in a daze, into the pub the morning after the fire. Everything seemed untouched, as it had the night before. Yet the body was there, lying face-down on the floor in the centre of the room. It was badly burnt, scorched by some mysterious fire, though the carpet underneath was untouched.
The Investigator, Mr. Corten, was standing over the body, taking notes. He looked up and saw Alex staring at him, and motioned for him to sit on one of the nearby stools.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” said Alex. “The fire was upstairs, not down here. And as I said, I saw the body in here before the fire started.”
“The books upstairs were completely destroyed,” said Mr. Corten. “And most of them seem to have been through from the windows during the blaze. Someone was up there during the fire, throwing burning objects out of the windows.”
“It sounds crazy,” said Alex, “but it reminds me of old tales of fire spirits that dance around, causing havoc and murder.”
“That is exactly how it’s meant to look,” said Mr. Corten. “The murderer has been very clever. It’s a very elaborate hoax. They would have needed a fire-proof suit and some sort of incendiary device. Plus maybe an accomplice to bring the body downstairs.”
Alex shook his head. “The only people here last night were my friends.”
The Investigator fixed him with a strong glare. “One of your friends is a murderer.”