One cop car and then another and another, followed by ambulances and unmarked emergency vehicles: A parade of lights makes it’s way up the street. Each car and truck deposits official looking people carrying official looking equipment onto the sidewalk and soon they’re swarming the teens, asking questions of each of them. The six who had been inside the house tell their story time and again until they’re exhausted of hearing the same words out of their mouths over and over. Paramedics and detectives fuss over them while they wait for the kid’s parents to arrive and specialty police teams begin to assemble their equipment and prepare to enter what is now being known simply as “The Scene” where before, it was “The House.”The sunset barely makes a difference to the light through the fog that’s fallen in the valley. As the sun slips behind the horizon, the response teams are ready to enter the scene. The rusty iron gates are swung open and people begin to file through when all of a sudden pandemonium breaks loose, and it all starts with one, innocent question: “Does anyone else smell smoke?” Noses turn to the air, and yes, everyone smells smoke, and now they can see it rising from the far corner of the porch. “Fall back! Fall back!” cries a uniformed officer as he runs through the overgrown yard after being the first to investigate. “It’s out of control! Extinguishers! Call the fire department!” The kids are herded into a field while everyone else attempts to battle the flames that are furiously licking at the brittle wooden boards of the old house.Before long, weeping mothers and fathers arrive at the house, three sets reunite joyously with their long lost children, holding them protectively and clinging to one another. The other set, the Goths, collapse in wails on the pavement before they’re ushered back into town by a weary officer. Lee holds her youngest boy, the one lost to her, tightly and she has no intention of ever letting him go. He’s been gone so long and she will never, ever let anyone take him from her again. He’s alive! Thank goodness he’s alive. Suddenly, Lee feels alive too.
Berjes watches his wife reunite with their son, the way the tears cling to both of their cheeks, and his heart swells. They’ve been waiting for this day for ages and now it’s come and it’s all thanks to Bean. The poor kid is standing a bit of a ways away, where he’s stood since Lee barreled out of the car, past him, and over to Jack. She’s hardly looked at him once and Berjes can see the hurt in Bean’s eyes when he meets them. Berjes himself had thanked him, hugged him, commended him, clapped him on the shoulder, and shown his gratitude and pride in every way he knew how, but he was still invisible to Lee.
Procedure probably should have seen everyone sent to the hospital or police station for follow up questioning, but instead everyone stays put and watches the progress of the flames. No matter how many fire men and women rush to the scene they can’t beat back the inferno. The inside of the building is smouldering too hot for them to get in and every time they think they’ve put a section out the fire flares back to life. It seems that everyone intends to stay until either the fire is out or the house is destroyed (and it’s the latter that occurs) but they’re sent back home with promises of further questioning early the next day – but for now, everyone is emotionally and physically exhausted and it’s time for three kids in particular to finally make their ways home.