Things have been tough ever since mom passed. Dad’s a complete shell of himself, and I’ve been left on my own to sort through the abundance of emotions I’m going through. It was actually a relief when Dad told me he was going to head to the cabin for the week.
“Can you watch the place for me Jared?” he had asked.
Yeah, I had to watch the house but that’s not a big deal. It’s two-story home with AC, a stocked fridge, big screen and a hot tub. It’s not like it’d be a struggle to get by. Although the place does still have landlines for some reason.
Before he left Dad told me reception would be spotty at the cabin per usual. If I really needed anything I should call between 9 and 11 when he’d be out at the local bar. I told him not to worry about anything and I highly doubted I’d need him. If I couldn’t reach him, I should call Terry next door if I needed anything.
Well, it didn’t take long before I needed him. I was soaking in the hot tub when lights in the backyard turned on. The lights back there are motion sensors.
Silly me, I forgot to set the security system. What was the code again? As things stood, the alarm wouldn’t go off if someone broke in. Thankfully, that animal or whatever it was had triggered the motion sensors and reminded me. I’ll call dad and ask for the code. It was getting close to 11:00 so if I wanted to catch Dad, I needed to call him quick.
My fingers scrolled though until I saw the D’s in my contacts. I hit call. It began to ring. Suddenly, the landlines did as well. The landline read Jared cell.
I looked back at my cell. I’d dialed Dad Home, not Dad Cell. Silly me. I moved my finger to the red phone icon but before I could push it the landline stopped ringing.
I hadn’t hung up yet. Had it gone to voicemail? Confused, I raised my cell to my ear. No voicemail, only silence. Actually, I think I do hear something. Is that static or…?
What the fuck? My heart was pounding. I immediately hung up the phone. What the fuck was that about?
Taking in a few deep breaths, my heart rate began to slow. There is no way I heard breathing. That would be ridiculous. It had to be the phone malfunctioning or something. I exhaled deeply then began to laugh. What a way to start off my week alone!
My cell began to ring. The ringing caused my body to flinch. Clearly still a little jittery. Who would be calling at this hour anyway? Looking at my phone, the call was from Dad Home.
My eyes widened. The phone continued to ring in my hands. In a panic I hit decline.
The backyard was illuminated by light once again. This was all happening so fast. Before I could react to the lights my phone started ringing again. Dad Home was calling.
Tears began to well up in my eyes, and I hit answer.
“H..H…Hello?” I asked.
There was no verbal response. But there was something else. A slow inhale followed by a slow exhale. My chest tightened.
“Hel…hello?” I repeated myself.
More breathing in return.
Keeping the phone to my ear I began moving towards the kitchen. Once there I grabbed a large kitchen knife. I ducked behind the island. The breathing on the other line had ceased.
I peeked my head out to survey my surroundings. The open and spacious nature of dad’s home came in handy here. The kitchen was about 15×15 with the island directly in the center and at the edge of the house.
Peaking around the corner allowed me to see the entirety of the living room. It was a large wide space directly in front of me. I leaned to the other side of the island to peak in the other direction. There were doors for a theater room, bathroom, and office. Down a little further was a little opening to the left. If you went in there, you’d see the front door and both flights of stairs. The office had two ways to get in. One clearly visible from the kitchen, and one around the corner in that opening.
There were four landlines in the house. The one in the kitchen, one in the office, one upstairs and one in the basement. Ruling out the kitchen meant this person could only be in one of three places.
I sat there behind the island, and my body couldn’t stop shaking. I set down my phone and held the knife in both hands. If someone was here and coming for me, I was going to need more than a knife. I knew Dad kept a gun in his office safe. I peeked around the corner again. The theater room, bathroom and office doors were all slightly creaked open.
Fuck. If I was going to protect myself, I needed to risk it. I inhaled deeply.
As soon as I began my exhale I shot to my feet and tiptoed toward the office. Each step creaked slightly and was the only sound that could be discerned.
Reaching the door, I wanted to pause for fear of what may be inside. I pointed the knife into the crease with my clammy hands and gently opened the door.
The only light in the room came from the opening. Gently, I closed the door behind me, and left it creaked slightly open as it had been before. Crawling under Dad’s desk, I reached for his safe.
It wasn’t there. Why wasn’t it there? Where could it…oh no. Before he left Dad had told me he’d moved the safe to basement.
The walkout basement. With a door I’m almost certain I had forgotten to lock. Also, where another one of the landlines were.
Then I heard movement. Someone was here. I sat on the knife so no light would reflect and curled into a ball.
Outside the office I could hear the faint sound of footsteps. Then the sound of a door swinging open. That was the theater room. Moments later I heard a thud.
Another door as flung open, this one closer. The bathroom. That was followed by another thud. That meant the office was next.
Do I keep hiding or do I make a run for it?
I decided to run. As the sound nearing the office grew in intensity I shot through the other door and exited the office and ducking around the corner. The other door to the office opened. Then there was silence.
I held my breath waiting for something, anything to happen. Seconds kept passing by. Everything was still. Please. Please. Please. Slam the door so I can run.
Still no sound. I could feel the little beads of sweat run down my forehead.
Finally, I heard the other door slam shut, and used that noise to disguise my run to the stairs.
Knowing where the intruder was had lessened my apprehension of going downstairs. I maintained quiet feet but quickly maneuvered down the steps. As I reached the bottom, I saw that the walkout door was wide open.
I didn’t have time to worry about such things. Darting towards the back, I found the safe. I punched in the code.
Wrong code. The safe beeped. I heard movement upstairs.
You have got to be kidding me. What’s the code?!
I punched it in again.
Wrong code. I could hear more sound upstairs. Whoever was up there was being much louder than before.
Frantically, I attempted one more time. If this didn’t work, I’d have to make a run for it.
The safe door swung open. I grabbed the gun and hid. While hiding, I turned the safety off, then checked to see if it was loaded. Thankfully, it was.
The creaking of floorboards could be heard overhead. Each sound grew nearer to the top of the stairs. I closed my eyes and tried to focus. Steadying the gun, I aimed where the intruder would be in my line of sight on the stairs.
The sounds grew increasingly louder. A figure appeared at the top of the stairs. Even in the dark I could make out his all-black outfit and ski mask.
One arm was raised, and it looked like they were casually massaging their neck. The figure hobbled awkwardly. Each step looked more off balance than the last.
I waited until they reached the easiest spot for me to aim. I fired the gun. A brief moment passed and then the body came tumbling down the remaining stairs. Flicking on the lights, I kept my distance, gun pointed at the intruder.
Red stains soaked the area beneath the man’s body. Kicking at him a few times, there was no reaction from his limp body. Curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to flip the man over. He was bleeding immensely from his neck.
Removing the ski-mask, I immediately became confused. This person was a complete stranger to me. Why would they break into my home? What the purpose in doing so? And what was with the wound on their neck?
I’d fired a gun at this man. Yet his wound wasn’t a bullet hole. It looked like it had been slashed. Looking over to the stairs, there was a hole in the wall. Had I missed?
Then how did…
It was then that the landline began to ring. It read Jared cell.
Credit: Sam Gallenberger
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