Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Wrong Turn

Bill ran to the door and slammed it quickly behind him, locking it. He looked around furtively and then jumped as the man began beating on the door, calling out to him in a thunderous, menacing tone. Brace the door? Or look for a better place to hide? It was nearly impossible to make up his mind and so Bill focused on his surroundings and willed himself to slow his breathing.

He was in the entryway, a small confined space. Ahead, a door he imagined led to a coat closet, and beside it a small table with a vase containing blackened wilting flowers. Over the table, a small mirror, caked with dust. Bill could see from the reflection that the man was still outside, the peephole brightening and darkening as the man rammed into the door with his shoulder.

The first floor of the house was not well lit, the windows boarded over. Most likely the owners had simply walked away from the home. Probably gathering up only what they could throw in the car and leaving late one Friday night after work. After that would have come the decay as the neighborhood quietly emptied out after dark, one house at a time and then three or four until there was only one or two homes left with residents. Eventually the city would have come along and thrown up the plywood on the lower windows to keep out teens, arsonists and drug addicts. There had been talk of bulldozing entire neighborhoods, but the city itself was on the verge of insolvency.

Of course, none of this mattered right now to Bill. The raging homicidal maniac on the other side of the door had apparently had enough of pounding on the door and had begun to kick it. And then there was a sickening thump, a yelp, another thump and then silence. Bill stopped to listen and could hear stirring on the other side of the door. He strained to listen and then ominously, the peephole was again darked. The voice sounded a little more pained now, but no less angry as it boomed out the descriptions of the ways Bill was going to regret having hit him with the car.

This was a night Bill hoped he'd live through, but right now, he wasn't so sure what to do. It had all started when he'd overshot the offramp and decided to simply take the next offramp and turn around. Only it turned out to be one of those offramps that didn't have a corresponding onramp and now Bill understood why. You didn't want the people here having access to the rest of the city. They were crazy.

In all honesty, Bill hadn't hit him with the car. The large man in the filthy red plaid shirt and several days beard growth had approached the car, wild eyes blazing, pointing a gun and demanding that Bill get out of the car. Bill, in a fit of what he thought at the time was panicked genius, turned the wheel sharply and floored it, knocking the man to the ground. What he had not expected was the fire hydrant on the opposite corner of the intersection. The change in direction, the sudden acceleration propelled him across the intersection much quicker than he'd expected, hitting the curb at an angle. Suddenly, he found himself up in the air, the driver's side tires of the car off the ground. He could see the man getting up off the ground and looking around, probably for his gun and then turning towards the car, their eyes locking as Bill stared in sheer terror in his side mirror. The man began lumbering towards him in an odd uneven gait, dragging his left leg a little bit. By now he'd forgotten about his gun and locked in on Bill.

Bill tried furiously to dislodge the car, but it would not get into gear and he finally kicked the door open, lept to the ground and ran towards the nearest house. There had been no sign of his cell phone, probably under the seat or something. The door was locked, so he ran down the length of the porch and lept the hedge into the neighbor's yard as his pursuer was climbing the steps to where he'd been only moments before. The man was now moving on pure hatred, completely oblivious to his own pain. As he could catch his breath, he had begun to call out to Bill, describing in great detail the method in which he was going to kill Bill.

So now Bill found himself trapped in this house. The man had given up on the door and was no pulling at plywood trying to find a way in to the house. And suddenly it hit him and Bill was off checking the plywood himself. At the back of the house, the kitchen, there was a huge gap and then plywood was loose. He looked around furiously. Curtains, dishware, chair and table. This could work.

The man thrust a arm through the window and grabbed at the edge of the plywood. Bill thrust a fork into the man's fingers. The man yelped again and thrust his hand in further. Bill brought down a dinner plate onto the edge of the counter and then quickly brought the broken edge against the man's arm, pinning it to the counter as he ripped down one of the curtains. He quickly wrapped it around the man's arm and pulled hard, hearing the man's body thump against the outside of the house. He pulled hard trying to free his hand, but Bill had braced against the counter, preparing for the fight. Bill shoved a knife through the curtain into the counter and then twisted up a serving spoon up in the curtain. With a tearing sound, the curtain ripped free of the knife. The serving spoon clattered across the counter and then came to a stop against the plywood. Bill knew he wouldn't have a lot of time and knew the man would go first towards the front door.

Bill looked around. A stairwell. He quickly took the steps two at a time. Up on the second floor, two small bedrooms and a bathroom. Out front, nothing. Out back, a large oak. The city, standard procedure, had dutifully covered the first floor, but it was obvious the people had been using the tree to enter ever since the original owners had left. Bill quickly climbed out onto the roof and from there it was easy to climb onto the tree, slid to the trunk, then climbed out onto another branch. It was a long drop, but considering, it was worth it. He braced for impact, lept from the tree and was in the neighbor's yard. Out the fence to the front yard, jogged for three blocks until he was able to flag down a passing car who slowed but didn't stop. Two more blocks and he found a gas station, broke in, found a phone and was able to call for help.
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