Anna sat in her chair watching the trees move in the wind. A storm was coming, and people were told to stay indoors. The weatherman estimated at least two feet of snow will fall throughout the day. Her orange tabby, Ambrose, lay nestled in his bed, sleeping away the day. She glanced at her notebook on the table with nothing on it. The pen lay listlessly beside it.
She had hoped the weather might induce some inspiration. Her writing had all but stopped, no ideas flowed through her mind. She struggled to find something, anything, to write about. But her efforts remained fruitless.
A writer is supposed to write every day, she thought. A gust of wind shook her windows, the cat lifted his tired head but never opened his eyes. Anna walked over to the window. A blanket of white beautiful snow had already started to cover the ground.
“The snow is so pretty, isn’t it Ambrose?” she asked. “It’s like a layer of velvet spread across the world in one instant.” Anna continued to watch the snow fall, her arms crossed around her waist. “What do you think I should write about Ambrose?” she turned to look at her tabby. But he was fast asleep once again. “Oh well. I will think of something.”
She made her way into the kitchen, maybe a cup of tea will help, she thought. Grabbing her mug from where she left it after her morning coffee, she turned on the stove. Filling the tea kettle with water, her mind wandered again.
A speck of black appeared in the back yard, causing Anna to stop what she was doing. Her body trembled as she watched the figure stumble through the snow. Who was this person? She thought. She continued to watch the figure move along her fence until they reached a clearing, then they stumbled through more snow, reaching the trail in the forest.
The figure disappeared between the trees. Her body started to relax as she realized the stranger was not headed for her house. People were not what she wanted to see.
Anna finished making her tea and retreated to the living room. Ambrose was still fast asleep, unknowing of the dark intruder that almost ventured into their yard. Sitting in her chair she grabbed the notebook and pen.
“And there he was, standing in the clearing. He was waiting for her to invite him in, but she said nothing. Just stared at him as though she didn’t know who he was.”
The words were finally coming to her. An idea sparked by a stranger almost in her back yard. Thoughts of the stranger disappeared as she wrote feverishly in her notebook. Pen and paper were always her choice for first drafts. Before she knew it, she had four pages filled on both sides in black ink. Still, she continued to write well into the night. She hadn’t even noticed the sun had gone down or that more snow had left any idea of driving out of the question.
Ambrose perked his head up when the sound of footsteps grew louder outside. Anna heard it too. Placing her notebook on the table, she quickly got up and headed toward the door. The footsteps grew louder, her body began to tremble as she wondered who could possibly be outside.
The noise grew louder as they continued walking closer to the door. Ambrose stood by her feet, meowing softly, rubbing her body against her leg. Anna stood frozen before the door. The footsteps stopped right outside. A whistling could be heard even though the wind had picked up.
Examining the door from where she stood she was relieved to see the door was locked, she had even locked the deadbolt when she arrived at home. Letting out a breath of relief she managed to move her way toward the kitchen, checking the lock there. All locked.
Because she hadn’t realized it was getting dark the only light that was on was the one net to her chair. Peeking through the doorway, she tried to see if there was anyone in the window. It was the only window where the curtain wasn’t pulled shut as she enjoyed watching the snow fall.
A dark figure walked slowly by, she could not make out who it was. The light turned him into a shadow. The only thing she knew for certain was, there was someone outside her house. Fear spread through her like wildfire. Cursing through her body. Paralyzing her in her spot. She struggled to think of what to do.
Suddenly she remembered her phone. It was still hooked up to the charger in the kitchen. Forcing herself to move she retreated away from the doorway. Following the wall so that the intruder couldn’t see her. Seeing her phone lying on the counter, she quickly grabbed it, her shaky hands fumbling with the lock screen.
“9–1–1, what’s your emergency?” the female voice said on the other end.
Whispering, Anna tried to explain that there was someone outside her house. As she was talking to the operator she heard the whistling become louder. He had made it to her back door. “Please I need help.” she pleaded with the lady on the phone.
“Ma’am, please try to remain calm. I have dispatched the police, but with the storm it might take them a bit to get to you.” the woman explained. “Is there somewhere you can hide? A closet, maybe?”
Anna remembered the room in the basement. “Yes, I have a room in the basement. It only locks from the inside.” she told her. “That’s where I’ll be, please tell them to hurry.”
Grabbing her phone she walked slowly into the living room. “Ambrose? Where are you, come here sweetie.” she called to the cat. A soft meow lets her know the cat was still at the front door.
Anna heard the footsteps again, grabbing Ambrose she darted off to the basement door. Halfway down the hall, she heard the front door knob jiggle, the strange man was trying to open the door. More whistling and Anna froze in her spot.
“I know you’re in there Anna. I saw you.” the man said through the door. He started whistling again, then stopped. “There’s a bad storm out here, you really gonna let a man freeze out here?” The man tried the door again, pulling harder on the handle. “Come on now, I could die you know.”
Ambrose meowed in her arms, tears streamed down her face as she felt the overwhelming urge to scream. This strange man knew her name. How could he know her name? Frantically, she opened the door to the basement, shutting it as the man started kicking the door.
She heard the shots ring out in the air. The man has a gun. She hurriedly ran down the stairs, reaching the door to the extra room. The room was an add-on to the house when she bought it. The previous owners believed they needed to be prepared. Anna didn’t know what they needed to be prepared for, but after tonight she was grateful they were.
She heard the basement door creak as she slowly closed the door, Ambrose jumped from her arms and ran to the corner of the basement. “Ambrose” she whispered. “Come on, don’t play games.” She kept an eye on the stairs, hearing the man take the first step forced her to hide behind the shelf.
The man moved slowly down the stairs, whistling as he moved toward the bottom. Relief washed over her as she watched him move to the other side of the basement. She could no longer see him, Ambrose appeared near her feet.
Quickly swooping him up, she ran toward the room, shutting the door behind her as the man walked toward her.
The door was locked.
“Anna.” she heard him say over and over. “Come out, come out, wherever you are.”
She sat on the corner of the room, thankfully the room didn’t have a doorknob. There was no way for him to kick the door in, either as it was made from steel. Anna tried to remember what the realtor told her, but she couldn’t focus.
Suddenly the noise stopped. She no longer heard the man, but she was too scared to leave the room. It seemed like a lifetime before she heard anything else. Ambrose sat near the door, waiting to be let out. The cat meowed, and then Anna heard a woman.
“Anna?” the woman called out. “Are you down here?”
Anna waited, unsure if she should respond. After it had been a man that followed her into the basement. She stayed quiet, her hands shaking, she remembered the phone. Fumbling with the screen, she sighed when she there was no signal. There was no way for her to call for help. Her breathing became stronger, short quick breaths. Her mind raced through all kinds of images scattered in her head.
This man was surely trying to kill her. Why else would he have come to the house? She was new in town and hadn’t met anyone. There was no family nearby, and her friends lived on the other side of the country. Her older brother was locked away in Oregon.
“Anna? This is Rachel with the police department. Are you down here?” the woman said.
Ambrose meowed again. Staring at the door, she wondered how much time had passed.
“Who are you?” Anna heard the woman ask. “What are you doing? NO! Stop…” the woman yelled.
The sound reverberated through the wall, piercing Anna’s ears. Instinctively her hands went up to cover them, dropping her phone on the floor. Quickly she picked it up and heard more footsteps outside the door. She heard the scuffling of feet and things falling to the floor. Someone yelled about getting his arms.
The police had finally arrived. Someone yelled her name.
“Anna, we got him, it’s safe to come out now.” a man yelled.
Another man called for an ambulance for their wounded partner. Ambrose meowed again. Anna reached for the doorknob, unlocking it before opening the door. Ambrose shot out of the room. Anna stood there staring at the officers, a woman lay on the floor, bleeding. Another officer standing over her, talking to her softly. A man knelt down in front of her, his hands behind his back. One of the officers took the black mask off his face.
Anna gasped as she saw her brother’s face. Having escaped from prison he came to exact his revenge for her turning him into the police for murder.
“Do you know this man?” one of the officer’s asked.
Anna nodded her head. “Yes. He’s my brother.”