The wood crackled as the house burned.

‘Come on out. We won’t shoot,’ came a cry through where the front window had once been.

‘They’re lying,’ he muttered, his voice a harsh growl. The heat from the blaze was growing and sweat flowed down his neck and inside his collar. The only light in the room was flickering of the flames as they drew closer to where they were hiding.

‘Don’t look as if we’ve got much choice,’ Bradley replied. ‘The only other option is to fry, as far as I can see.’

Bradley was right, up to a point, he knew. But he also knew that just walking out of the house with his hands in the air wasn’t such a good idea. There were three of them huddling down in the house: their ammunition almost gone; their hideout burning down around them.

‘The only thing we’ll get out there,’ he replied, nodding his head to indicate the front of the house, ‘is a bullet.’

‘And the only thing we’ll get back there,’ Bradley nodded toward the back of the house, ‘is fried.’

There was a loud crash as part of the upper floor collapsed, debris filling the room.

A ragged shout rang out, ‘I’m going out. I can’t take this anymore.’ It was Flynn, the youngest of them. ‘They can’t shoot us …’ He scrambled to his feet, Bradley grabbing at the hem of his coat. ‘They said they won’t shoot. I’m coming out,’ he shouted as he burst out the door.

The sound of gunfire drowned out his screams.

— Micheal O’Flaherty

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