“Wake up!” Emma whispered, prodding me in the ribs. My eyes opened to see her face staring back at me, wide-eyed and panicked. My heart was racing instantly. “I think someone’s in the house!”
I turned my attention away from her as a boot landed heavily on the bottom step of the stairs just outside out bedroom. The next came a moment later. It landed with as much force as the first as though whoever it belonged to didn’t care if they were heard.
I sat up, swinging my legs over the edge of the bed, as the next hit.
How many steps are there? I thought as I went to my closet.
I opened the door and rifled through the things in it as quietly as I could. I needed to find something to use for a weapon. Four. Anything to defend my wife and my home. Five. I was sweating already as the thoughts flew through my head.
A knife? Baseball bat? None of it is in this part of the house… Six.
There was nothing. Not even a pair of shoes.
“Stand back, honey,” I whispered, pulling our heavy comforter off the bed. Seven.“As soon as I leave, you need to hide.”
“What are you doing?” she replied. Eight.
“I’m going to stop him.” Nine.
“What if he has a gun?” Ten.
I shook my head. I couldn’t think about that, and didn’t as I grabbed the corners of the blanket and crept to the corner. Eleven.
I rounded the corner and jumped, hold the blanket out. I imagines that I would have looked like a flying squirrel, descending the stairs at the speed of gravity. I was ready to close my arms as soon as I ran into something.
I landed heavily at the bottom of the stairs, crumpling under my own weight. My left leg twisted and a jarring shock ran through my body as it broke. Twelve.
From my crumpled position I could see the entire staircase and there was no one on it. Thirteen.
The last stair. The creak of the floor at the top of the stairs. My bedroom door slammed. I crawled, pulling myself up the stairs. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven.
My wife’s scream echoed through the house. Blood-curdling and shrill. A loud bang and the sound of a window breaking.
The bedroom door opened. The creak of the board at the top of the stairs.
I saw nothing.