The Next Day

February 29, 2008
With a jerk, I jolted upright. It was the dead of night, and I’d been awakened when I heard my neighbors’ door open. It was not like they usually open their door in the pre-dawn hours. The next thing I knew, their car was zooming away. This too seemed out of place. My neighbors were the cautious, calm drivers in our suburban cul-de-sac.

Trying to go back to bed, anxiety kept me from sleep. My spine was trying to tingle, running little shivers up my back, and my hair was trying to be raised, an early warning sign like ants crawling on my scalp—like my body was begging me to pay attention to these signals, but even it needed proof to become completely scared instead of going to sleep. Finally, I decided to investigate the reason for this semi-Stephen King feeling of dread I was getting.

With cell phone in one hand and steak knife in the other, I headed out of my house toward my neighbors. DING DONG! I rang the doorbell. I heard moaning and groaning coming from inside, and there was a crimson slash smeared across the two windows on either side of the front door. Time to call 911, I told myself, but I still needed a little more reason. Prepared to dial the last number one, I went around the back of the house and slid open the door. I knew my neighbors kept unlocked. I searched for light switches for what felt like three hours, finally scraping my hand across them near the doorway. I flicked the switch up and immediately came more moaning and some screaming. Either these people hadn’t seen daylight in a long while or they had on night vision goggles, because the lights being turned on obviously caused some pain. Either thought disturbed me. Before I had a chance to process all this crazy stuff, I was distracted by footsteps. They sounded eerie—not like a normal person walking across a normal surface, but scarier, heavier somehow. Then CLICK. Was that a gun being loaded?

When I heard the CLICK! I pushed the 1 and 1 again on my cell phone and whispered to the operator. But before I could tell her the address, I had to hang up. I had spied a gun swinging around the door. Ducking behind a chair near the door I had come through, I saw a man come into the room. He was about 6’1”, looked heavy but fit. Waiting for him to pass in front of me, I lunged at him. Commotion! Bodies whizzing around, limbs tangled and bruises forming.

More footsteps came from above. I realized I wasn’t going to wrestle the gun away. So I ripped the goggles from his head and got behind him. Holding the gun trigger in his hands, I opened fire on him. I heard him scream and fall. Silence. Now with the gun in my hand, I double backed to where I thought the other guy was hiding. He was there, just standing. He turned. He was certainly staring at me like I was staring at him. Petrified. Then, reflexes kicked in. I dove behind the wall. Something rolled in front of me. It was a grenade. Instead of diving away, I dove towards it. Then, scooping it up like a lacrosse player, I threw it back in the direction I saw it come. BANG! “Right back at you, buddy!” I yelled. That is definitely going to wake the neighbors, I thought. Two down, who knows how many to go.
I heard a cell phone ring. It was coming from the guy in the next room. Moaning. “These guys just will not die”. I quickly ran into where he was, and clubbed him over the head with my gun, or rather, the gun I’d stripped from him.

Then, I heard it. Fingers were tapping a keyboard. I knew I had to get that computer. Up I went, to the second floor. Reaching the room my neighbors called the “den”, I turned the lights on in the room. With surprise on my side, I tackled the guy out of the chair. I saved the document he was looking at on the computer, then I bound and gagged him with the computer cords. Leaving the house immediately, I raced over to my car at home and I headed out to the police station, computer in hand. It held the answers.

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