For those of you who have read What’s in a Name? and are patiently waiting for my next book (coming soon, promise!) Here’s a tale to keep you scared and entertained in the meantime.
Short Story-While You Were Gone
I woke with a start. My eyes wide, my heart thundered against my ribs, sucking air greedily into my burning lungs. Adrenaline tingeling thorugh my fingertips ready for action.
A sound woke me. What was it? Lightning flashed, filling the room with a blue glow. Everything was as it should be. My new glass top table and wrought iron chairs by the window. A bouquet of flowers from my husband sat on my dresser. I force myself to close my eyes and focus. The sounds of the house greeted me. The ice maker, the steady drip of the leaky faucet my husband was supposed to fix before he left for his current mission. The slight pitter-patter of rain on the window and a rumble of thunder in the distance. I almost breathe a sigh of relief thinking it was thunder when I realize one sound I did not hear. The steady breathing of the dog. She was old and tended to wheeze with every breath. My eyes shot open.
Silently I pull back the sheet and slip out of bed. The cool air greeting my bare legs as my feet meet the carpet. I enter the hallway through the open door and take a moment to check on each of my children. The first, nearly three years old now, is snoring soundly. I then enter my youngest’s bedroom. Standing over his crib, I take a moment to note the rise and fall of his tiny chest. I count my blessings before leaving the room and closing the door.
My nerves on edge I turn to the right and head down the stairs. I skip the third step from the top knowing it squeaks. Before I descend any farther I see the dark outline of the dog. All that over nothing. I smile at myself, making a note to tell my sister about it over coffee in the morning.
I take one last look at the dog. A flash of lightning illuminates the room. My smile fades. A pink tranquilizer dart sticking out of her shoulder. A shadow moves. I return quickly and silently to my bedroom. I throw my body pillow down on the bed and throw the sheet over it. I was about to go to the closet to retrieve the .45 caliber handgun we keep loaded for just such occasions when I hear the stair creak. Third from the top. No time. I sink back into the shadows. Right next to the open doorway flush against the wall. The cold seeps into the uncovered skin of shoulders. The figure entered the room like a shadow. He was large. Nearly two hundred pounds on a frame that was easily six feet tall. He paused before the bed. He cocked his head. And pointed a gun towards what he thought was me. That was until another flash of lightning revealed the truth of what I had done. He ripped the sheet back to be sure. He turned around and his angry eyes met mine. Now I needed him to come to me. Please god, let him get close enough. I let a tear fall from my eye, to lure him closer. At least that’s what I tell myself. I picture my husband returning from defending his country to find his family massacred. I can’t let that happen. It would destroy him.
As the assailant approached, I saw him pointing the gun at my babies in my mind’s eye. I took a deep breath as he placed the silencer between my breasts. That’s right get in close.
He leaned in. “How did you know I was here?” He asked. The curiosity seemed too much for him.
“I heard the dog hit the floor,” I said realizing that was the sound that woke me. I threw my hands up, one grabbing the pistol right at the trigger and thrusting it up above my head, as my other grabbed the top making it unable to fire. I pulled back down ripping the weapon from his hands. Unfortunately, he was a professional and was not stunned long enough for me to get a shot off. He punched me hard in the chin. I heard my jaw crack, pain shooting through my face. Ignoring it, I moved to aim the gun at him. He grabbed me by my hair and threw me across the room. My elbow collided with the floor sending the gun flying. I rolled and was nearly on my feet when his foot met my ribs, lifting me off the floor. I stood before my lungs had a chance to find air again. I grabbed the glass table top from by the window as air filled my lungs sending pain through my chest. I smashed the table top over his head. He put his arms up to protect his head from the blow but the glass broke, cutting into him. A trail of blood trickled down his face and neck. I ran into the closet, grabbed the .45, and turned on him with a vengeance.
He saw the gun and turned from the entrance of the closet. I followed but he was gone. My stomach sank as I ran to the hallway. The door to the baby’s room was open. I entered the room with the gun down. He stood over the crib looking at my baby boy.
“Make no mistake,” I whispered through clenched teeth. My jaw aching. “I will kill you if you touch him.”
“I have no doubt.” He stated, turning to face me. “That’s why I wanted to kill you first.”
His words sent a new surge of adrenaline through me. I lifted the gun. And looked into his eyes. My finger pressing into the trigger, he flicked his wrist and pain shot through my shoulder. The force of the knife sliding into my arm pushed me back into the hall. He ran past me down the stairs. I couldn’t let him get away. I stood, blood poured down my arm the wound screamed with every movement. My ribs protested. I drew strength from my pain. I stumbled down the stairs only to find the front door open and no sign of him. I shut the door and headed cautiously to the kitchen. I grabbed the phone and put it to my ear. No dial tone. I needed to make it upstairs to my cell phone. He could still be in the house. He could come back.
As I reach the top step the adrenaline seems to be wearing off. The pain is almost too much. The darkness is creeping in, too much blood loss. I can barely keep my eyes open as I try to crawl to my bedroom. When I get there I get a bit of a second wind as I reach my cell phone and dial 911. The operator answers, no matter how hard I try to concentrate I cannot understand her. I give my location and ask for the police and an ambulance. She asks me something but I can’t understand it. I hang up the phone and dial my sister. She sounds groggy as she answers. I tell her to come get the boys and then the darkness creeps in. I can’t fight it anymore. I hear my sister’s voice as if I am underwater. I don’t know what she’s saying so I respond with. “Just come.” Before my eyes closed and the darkness takes me. Please, God, don’t let him come back.
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