The Intruder

I awoke around 2 a.m., and I lay in my double bed in our rented spartan apartment and watched a light flickering in the hall outside our bedroom.

I studied the light and goose bumps crawled up my back when I determined that the source was not from headlights but from our balcony. I suspected that someone had climbed on our deck and was shining a light in our apartment.

I was wrong, he was inside.

I quietly whispered to my roommate in the next bed.

“Core, Core, wakeup.”

She rolled over and whispered, “What’s wrong?”

I said, “Look at that light in our hallway, I think that someone is on our balcony. Did we lock the door?”

We usually left the sliding glass door open and locked the screen because we felt safe on the second floor.

“No, I locked the screen,” said Core.

We quietly slipped out of our beds, and I stepped into the hall with Core behind me. My heart throbbed and I sucked in my breath muting a scream when a bright light suddenly stabbed my eyes, and I saw a large figure holding a flashlight. I reeled and we raced to the bedroom and slammed the door.

Suppose the intruder was the rapist who lurked in the canal’s tall grasses and attacked those two girls ? Suppose he had a gun or knife?

Our phone was in the living room and cell phones were nonexistent. Our small-sliding-glass-bedroom window prevented escape, and our nearest neighbors had left town.

Our hands, arms and voices shook and we chattered while we quickly dragged a large, brown dresser in front of our door. Then we flung open our closet and bureau drawers and fumbled through shirts, shorts, sundresses and shoes searching for a weapon.

We finally spotted a tan and red wooden tennis racket leaning against the wall, and we found a thin brass table lamp and a spray deodorant can on the tall dresser. We planned to hammer him with the lamp and tennis racket and shoot  deodorant in his eyes. It was a bad plan, but it was the best that we could concoct.

After about an hour, we slowly slid the dresser aside and cringed when we opened the brown paneled door, and it creaked. We waited, then Core ducked her head around the door frame and slinked into the hall.

She clutched the tennis racket in her right hand and cocked it over her head.  I inched behind with my right index finger on the deodorant trigger,  and I gripped the lamp in my left hand. Core flicked on the light.

Our hearts thudded, and sweat seeped like we had sprinted up a steep slope. Coffin-like silence surrounded us.

Next, we approached the bathroom. Core flicked on the light and we stared at the flowered shower curtain that covered  the bath. We slowly entered and wrenched the curtain open and heard a metal screech, but we discovered an empty tub.

We approached the kitchen which opened to the living room. Core flicked on the light and we scurried to a drawer and grabbed long jagged-edged knives.

We looked towards the balcony, and the razor slashed screen and balcony door stood wide open. Where was he?

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