As Daniel arrived at the end of the lane the door swung open, then half-closed again, flames licking along its edge. He saw a figure in the doorway, silhouetted against the conflagration. Fugen Pan’s hair was on fire and he was beating at his head with his hands. There was a crash and a blazing beam fell behind him. Pushing it away with his elbow, he stumbled back inside.
Figures raced across the floor of the crater, carrying a ladder between them like a stretcher.
Pan reappeared, half-dragging, half-carrying a large bundle wrapped in cloth. The lower part was in flames and he flailed at them with one hand.
The rescuers reached the column and upended the ladder. One of them was already scrambling up. As he got to the top a hand reached from the bundle and tried to touch Pan’s face. Pan leaned forward. Then the roof fell in, burying the teacher and his mother in an avalanche of tiles and blazing timber.
The fire sent a shower of sparks up into the night sky and roared in triumph.