An Intruder

An Intruder

A cat and mouse story of a woman trying to evade an intruder in her home.


Fantasy / Sci-fi


Darren Mitchell (United Kingdom)

She sat bolt upright. Breathless…drowning in darkness. She threw the duvet back, swung her legs out of the bed and leaned forward coughing heavily. The cold air of the night kissed the sweat on her body. Her throat cleared as she gulped at the air. Something wasn’t right, the air felt…heavy…like breathing fog. Her bedside clock stared blankly at her. Elaine lifted her mobile from the bedside cabinet, a red L.E.D blinked 3 times indicating the battery was flat. How could it be dead? It had been charging for at least two hours before she went to bed.
Her fuzzy head confirmed she’d had at least a few hours’ sleep and other than the dull yellow of the moonlight, it was still pitch dark. She stood up and immediately grabbed the bedside cabinet. She felt light-headed, movement of her legs felt like being numb while underwater. She took a few deep breaths and paced to the bedroom door feeling slightly clearer. The bedroom door made its usual dull growl as it dragged over her luxurious carpet. There was an instant noise (Clack..) from downstairs. Elaine froze. Someone here…?!? Did she hear that…was she dreaming? Is this what woke her ? The sound seemed to come from her living room. Her house was recently converted from its former use as a farm barn. The large barn and flanking cottage had been knocked together with the barn and lower cottage opened up into her spacious living room, while the upper level of the cottage was kept for bedrooms, finished off with a showcase glass staircase. The cottage could creak in summer evenings as the heat of the day departed skyward but the conversion was contemporary glass and steel. It didn’t creak. Any noise from down there was caused by someone. She stood at her bedroom door, analysing the silence cast back at her from the shadow pit of a living room.
Nothing...she slowly stepped onto the top landing which overlooked the open plan. The dull shapes looked familiar, nothing knocked over or moved. Reason was biting at her and she suddenly remembered the cat. Missy didn’t usually get up during the night but maybe she was unwell and needed out? Elaine made her way along the landing and started down the first flight of glass stairs. On the turn to the lower flight she could make out Missy, a cosy mess curled under the far window.
Elaine welcomed the feeling of the soft varnished floor as she stepped off the last of the cold glass step. She looked around. Shapes and shadows, but everything where it should b… Something moved. One of the shadows MOVED. She stood transfixed, adrenaline surging. Her cold body now a coiled spring now ready to fight…or flight. How could a shadow move? It moved again, behind the couch and against the wall…this patch of darkness was creeping across the room… towards her. She exploded into movement, her bare feet slapping as they gripped the varnished floor, moving rapidly towards the stairs.
How THE HELL can a shadow move..???
As she turned onto the second flight she glanced back, the shadow thickened between the sofas which split the living room… this had to be a dream? Her feet slammed the stairs two at a time, legs now fiery pistons. Elaine launched off the top stair and raced back to her bedroom. She forced the door closed and flicked the button lock on the door handle.
She stood behind the door…listening…breathing. No sound came from the stairs like she had made, if he was following it was slowly and in stealth…maybe shadows can’t climb stairs? What was casting that shadow…? Was he crouching around her furniture… hands and knees....that made sense?
Her head still a hazy mess… she had to focus. What if he got in here? No phone…and no one around for miles, she had to get out. Her car keys were tucked in her jeans, she slipped them on along with her pumps and Wham t-shirt she had been wearing in today’s autumn sunshine. She considered leaving through the window but the cottage, while much smaller than the barn, was still 30ft high. Her legs would surely shatter on the concrete below.
Think…THINK..! She scanned the room for an escape. She looked up at the loft panel. The loft was accessed from the landing and upstairs rooms. Still no sound beyond her bedroom door…had he left? Hopefully...but she had to escape this room. She pulled her metal framed bed to the middle of the room. Elaine hopped on the bed and released the loft hatch with her fingertips. It descended on its slow release bracket presenting folding ladders which she released, setting the steps on the bed. She stepped onto the ladder and heard a click. The door was being tested. The handle turned half an inch each way before the lock choked further movement. He was here. She continued up the ladder as quickly as she could and heard a crunch as the central lock button fell out of the door. She kneeled in the loft pulling the ladder carefully back into its housing.
The slow growl of the door opening filled the room as she gently clicked the loft hatch closed. How the hell did he break the lock, what kind of strength mashes a lock ?! She could barely make out the other two hatches, one from the spare room (straight ahead) and the hallway access (on the left). She moved left and pulled the hatch upwards. A small click confirmed the release of the soft open bracket which duly made its way down. Elaine popped her head through the hatch and could see her bedroom door now fully open. No sign of him… or his shadow. He must be searching her room. She didn’t have time to release the ladder so swung herself out of the hatch, stretching her arms to allow the shortest drop down onto the carpet. She was grateful for her plush carpet as her cushioned landing was virtually silent. She tip-toed across the hallway and floated down the glass stairs. The shadows in the living room remained static as she made her way to the side door which was nearest her garage. She locked the door behind her so he could not follow. More time to get away.
As she moved towards the garage she noticed the moonlight, the colour seemed.. off. Suddenly light flooded all around her, enclosing her in a pillar of pulsating white light, with the air visibly vibrating within it. Elaine’s eyes instinctively closed to slits and she looked up confused. The moon ?.. A helicopter ? The light was too bright to comprehend and suddenly it had weight. The light became a pressure so intense she could barely breathe. Her knees buckled and she crumbled to the ground.
The thick air began to swirl, the vibration became a strong pulse pushing and squeezing at every inch of her body. Dust and particles spun around her with the air pulling them upwards. She curled into a ball and felt her body turn and drag on the tarmac. Elaine closed her eyes and felt her body numb as her brain filled with a screaming static. She couldn’t think, only peek in glimpses at what was happening to her. She no longer felt the tarmac as consciousness began to ebb away. She opened her eyes a sliver; she was rising…upwards slowly towards the light. She could see her house flickering from the pulsing vortex she was in. As she rose past her bedroom window she looked up into the pillar of light. The source of the light came from a huge silver disc that sat in the sky above her. It had a mushroom shape with a skin like wet mercury. The vibration seemed to cause ripples through its surface. Elaine rose above the roof of her barn and was now nearing the source of the light. The pressure within the beam of light was intolerable; her body was being squeezed to the point of physically bursting. She had no capacity to breathe and felt relief as everything went dark.
From the edge of consciousness she felt the light and pressure disappear, as quickly as they had appeared. She was lying now silently on what felt like a cool glass floor. Her body throbbed and her brain welcomed the respite from the high-pitched white noise that had invaded it. Thought was returning. She opened her eyes. She was on a glass floor and could see the dull outline of her home sitting below her. She looked around the dull silver room that she was in; at the edge was a circular glass partition with white walls beyond. Her eyes cleared and she focussed on the wall behind the glass, something moving….shadows.
Missy lifted her head… Something moved outside briefly and was gone. She settled back into the warm spot of her fleece and back to sleep.

Competition: Friendly feedback, Round 1



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