Jason sat at his desk, gripping a cup of Starbuck’s coffee like it was a life buoy. His little cubicle was messy, and very plain, except for the few pictures Jason had put up. A picture of his family (Mom, Dad, and his brother, Mitch) a few funny quotes, and a calendar with a pictures of beautiful cars. He had groaned when the alarm had woke him up at 7:45 that morning. His head had been pounding, and he smelled like gas, although he couldn’t remember why. When he was taking a shower, he had remembered. In shock, he had almost called 911, but arson was something you get put away for, even if you plead temporary insanity. While he shaved and put on fresh clothes, he wondered what the hell he was going to do. He had checked the news before leaving, and a suburban house exploding was the top story. Police said they had suspects, and that it was almost certainly arson. The word suspects had sent chills up his spine, not used to the paranoia of that word associated with him. He shudders and spins his chair around to face his monitor. Elder needed a report by tomorrow. Jason cast all thoughts of his crime out of his mind with some difficulty, and tries to focus on his work.
Mark Johnson looked over the scorched remains of what used to be an auto-repair shop with a shake of his head. You could hardly tell it used to be a building, let alone a repair shop. They had cordoned off the area, and were combing it for clues. This was the fourth arson in the past three months, and Mark was getting worried. Each time was a more intense blaze, more calculated. Although Mark had busted bigger cases then this, it still made him nervous when an arsonist was out there. He ducks under the yellow tape and walks over to a rookie, who was kneeled over and looking at a section of black earth intently. He walks up to the rookie (who obviously wasn’t with his Arson Unit, his men were much more professional) and flashes a winning smile.
“Mark Johnson, Arson Unit. What’d you find there?”
The rookie looks up, picking up what looks like what used to be part of a blasting cap. He gently rubs off a thin layer of charcoal, and smiles. A blearily smudge is on the piece of plastic.
“Mr. Johnson, I think I found a fingerprint.”
Jason taps a few keys on the time frantically. His forehead was beaded with sticky drops of sweat. This was his fifth ‘outing’ as he called them. Each time, the rush was bigger, and each time was a little more complex. He had gone from gas and matches to blasting caps and professional accelerants to timed charges. Each one drained his bank account progressively more as his equipment became more difficult to acquire, but Jason had stopped caring. He was on the roof of General Auto’s regional manufacturing and administration plant. He had attached a charge to one of the six massive oil tanks that powered the plant. He was ten stories up, and he could hear the faint blare of cars below. He felt giddy. He flicked the timer, set it for ten minutes and pressed the START button. He ran to the rickety elevator that had brought him up here, and it took him down five stories. He calmly stepped out of the rickety elevator and entered the normal one beside it. A businessman holding a black suitcase ran to catch the elevator. Jason cursed under his breath as the man run in, the doors reopening as they detected movement. The doors shut as the man ran his curious eyes over Jason.
The man says, “You don’t look so good. You okay?”
Jason replies, “Yeah.”
Jason sighs with relief as the man leaves on the fourth floor. He looks at his watch, eight minutes and ten seconds left. He rushes out of the elevator as it reaches the first floor, pushing past several well-attired businessmen and a few rough-looking engineers. The small group looks after him as he darts around the corner. He looks around, and spots what he was looking for: a fire-alarm. He pulls it and starts running towards the front exit. He knows the assembly lines and computers would shut down, and the building would be evacuated. He would never actually kill someone. Jason sprints towards the exit, being joined by a panicking horde of office workers. He glances at his watch as he gets outside. Six minutes left.
Five minutes later, the large crowd that was formed of the evacuees was getting restless. Several line workers were loudly wondering if they got overtime pay for the time they wasted, while administration workers were complaining about missed appointments. Jason worriedly glanced at his watch. Less than thirty seconds left. As he eagerly watched the building, a hand clasps his shoulder. Jason spins around, startled. A kind looking man is holding out a wallet and smiling calmly. A card labelled with ‘Sergeant-Johnson’ is next to a gleaming police badge. The undercover cop says, “Mark Johnson, with the Arson Unit. Mr. Larson, we have a few questions that we’d like answered-”
The building shatters in a cataclysmic explosion of fire, spraying debris into the crowd. Several people scream, and the crowd lurches away from the building as fast as possible. Jason decides to run with them, but before he can do so, he is tackled by three more undercover cops. His head slams into the pavement. His head feels dizzy, but he can still feel his arms being handcuffed. Jason sighs as debris rains down and the pillar of fire slowly begins to diminish.
Jason Larson was sentenced to twenty years in prison for five charges of arson, destruction of personal property, possession of illegal materials, multiple charges related to debris wounds, and resisting arrest. He begged temporary insanity, but it was not granted. The media covered his case, and wrote him off as another insane arsonist. Their coverage matched the attitude. The police searched his filthy apartment and found twelve more charges…
Jason’s closing statement in the case was, “I don’t know what came over me. I would’ve never harmed anyone, I swear…”
He was unavailable for interview, which isn’t good, because I woke up last night smelling like gas. The news is covering a massive fire which consumed multiple beach houses, and I can’t recall where I was last night. The voices in my head aren’t my own…