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On a Dark and Stormy Night
Victoria moved swiftly past the many towering bookcases which in the faint glow of the library lamp were casting eerie shadows on the narrow passage way. Her eyes scanned her surroundings, searching for anything the police might have overlooked. She was certain she would find something, some form of evidence.
Though she appeared to be the only person in the small dark room, Victoria could not ignore the strange feeling in the pit of her stomach. Somehow, she knew she was not alone.
Sighing, Elizabeth glanced up from the mystery novel she was reading, The Murder in the Library. It had been a long day. Early that morning, Elizabeth’s parents had left for a weekend conference outside of town. Her sister, Abigail, was spending the entire day out and sleeping over at a friend’s house. This left 15-year-old Elizabeth to enjoy a full day alone in her old, quiet home, relaxing in her favourite comfy pyjamas, and reading mystery books to her heart’s content. Or so she thought.
Shortly after one o’clock in the afternoon, Elizabeth’s aunt appeared on the doorstep carrying Elizabeth’s younger cousin, Lucy.
“Elizabeth! Hi! How’re you doing? Surprised to see me? Well, I’m really sorry to do this to you, but Lucy’s babysitter just cancelled and I’m already late for work…you don’t mind do you?”
Prying a very unhappy Lucy from her arms and into her niece’s, Elizabeth’s aunt turned and fled hastily down the steps to her car, yelling over her shoulder, “Don’t worry, I’ll be back before ten!”
“What?” Elizabeth yelled after her, recovering from her shock and staring at her hysterical cousin in horror, “but what do you mean by ten…ten tonight?!? But…but…but I’m the only one home!”
It was too late. Her aunt was waving happily from inside the car, oblivious to (or simply ignoring) Elizabeth’s pleas and Lucy’s sobbing cries, and was soon speeding down the road.
“Great!” Elizabeth muttered sarcastically, “Just wonderful.”
Returning inside, Elizabeth wasn’t really sure what to do next. She didn’t have much experience babysitting, other than the odd job here and there, not to mention her cousin happened to be an exceptionally hyper, cranky six year old. She certainly had not expected this.
Elizabeth sighed. Should I call someone? What on earth am I supposed to do with her? Do I have to feed her? How do I entertain a six-year-old…for hours?
“So…Lucy,” Elizabeth asked, “how ya doin’?”
Lucy glared up at her cousin, a look of pure hatred on her face, “What’s it to you?”
“Right” Elizabeth sighed. I cannot believe I got stuck with you, you little monster. Bye-bye peace and quiet.
She tried another approach, “Are you hungry at all? I was just about to make a snack…”
“Humph. What d’ya got?”
Elizabeth took a deep breath. “How about some cheese and crackers?”
“Fine” Lucy mumbled.
Eventually, Elizabeth found some children’s movies for Lucy to watch. They spent their time in the living room - Elizabeth cuddled on the couch reading while Lucy lay sprawled across the hardwood floor, her eyes glued to the television.
Soon, it was nearly 10pm and Elizabeth was anticipating her aunt’s arrival. She looked up from her mystery novel and noticed a sudden movement at the window. When she blinked, all was still.
What on earth was that? She thought. I’d better check it out.
Curious, Elizabeth moved toward the window to investigate, the floorboards creaking as she walked. She looked back at Lucy, who was still absorbed in a movie. As she inched closer to the window, she narrowed her eyes; it was a slightly foggy night and the street was dimly lit.
She squinted across the lawn but couldn’t find anything unusual. The lone street lamp in the distance cast gloomy shadows on houses, trees and plants. As she returned to the living room, she heard another movement. This time, it was coming from the front door.
Lucy pried her eyes from the TV screen, “Is Mommy home?” she asked.
Before Elizabeth could stop her, Lucy ran to the door and flung it open. “Mommy!” she yelled.
Suddenly, they were standing face to face with a very scary, solemn looking man, perhaps in his mid-40s. His clothes were dirty, grimy, and stained with blotches of deep, dark crimson. His face was smeared with dried blood. Sinister, piercing eyes stared eerily at them. As they took in his appearance, it was difficult not to notice the gleaming silver dagger in his right hand. It was dripping with blood. Paralyzed with fear, they stood shocked and silent, feeling chills go down their spines. Suddenly, a wicked smile crossed over the man’s face. He slowly inched forward. As he did so, Lucy and Elizabeth shrieked simultaneously while they struggled to shut the door. Unfortunately, their feeble attempt was useless. The man kept a strong, firm grip on the door and advanced even closer. Panicked, Elizabeth searched for something to use as a weapon. At last, she spotted one of her mother’s favourite potted plants on the doorstep.
Hastily grabbing the large terracotta pot, she heaved it with all of her might directly at the mysterious man’s face. He fell stumbling backwards, crying out in pain, while Lucy slammed and locked the door. She and Elizabeth glanced at each other, unsure of what to do next.
They rushed to the kitchen and Elizabeth dialled 9-1-1. Lucy was keeping an eye out for any movement at the windows or door, but all was silent. Meanwhile, Elizabeth was looking exasperated as she tried to convince the operator that no, this was not a prank call. Soon, Elizabeth was yelling into the phone.
“But, I already told you! We’re in trouble! There is a murderer outside our door! ...No, my parents aren’t here... I’ve already told you that! ...You’re not listening to me!”
Lucy could not hear the other side of the conversation, but she could tell things were not going well.
“Fine! Well maybe when we’re found brutally murdered, lying dead in our own living room, then perhaps you’ll believe us!” Elizabeth snarled, angrily slamming down the phone. “She thought it was a prank, can you believe it? Well, she’ll be sorry!”
“What now?” Lucy whispered.
“Beats me.” Elizabeth responded. “I can’t say I’ve ever been in a situation like this before. I dunno what to do…you?”
“No.” Lucy managed to cry out between sobs.
“Just my luck.” muttered Elizabeth, hugging Lucy tightly.
“I…I…I dunno what to d…do!” Lucy sobbed.
“Don’t worry,” said Elizabeth with determination in her voice, “we’ll figure this out! I’m not about to be taken out by some psycho out of a murder-mystery novel! But, for now, we need to stick together. Oh, and whatever you do, do not open the door, okay?”
Lucy nodded, still clutching onto her cousin.
“Good.” Elizabeth muttered, observing her surroundings. What on earth do I do now? Should I call for help? Hmm…like anyone’s going to believe me. Well, we can’t stand here all night.
“Okay, listen up Lucy, we need a plan.”
“I have no idea, but we need weapons!”
“What? Like what?”
Elizabeth was opening cupboards, rummaging through everything from wooden spoons to cereal boxes. Less than a minute later, she proudly placed her findings on the kitchen table: a heavy cast iron skillet, a sharp kitchen knife, a spray bottle containing vinegar, a pepper shaker, a jar of honey, a meat pounder and some string.
“Those are our weapons!?” Lucy asked, looking crestfallen. “I thought you actually had a plan!”
“Oh, I do!” Elizabeth giggled happily.
Lucy raised an eyebrow. “And that would be…?”
“Well, the guy’s gonna attack again - they always do - so, we gotta be prepared. You’re going to take the knife, vinegar and pepper. You know, just spray some stuff in his face and throw around the knife a bit. But try not to get blood everywhere. Oh, and take the meat pounder. Me? I’ll attack him with the iron pan and tie him up with string.”
“Yeah…great plan” Lucy muttered sarcastically, “And the honey…”
“Oh, that’s so we can make it really sticky in case he tries to escape! Ha! What do you think?”
“I think we’re gonna die.” Lucy sighed.
Suddenly, there was a terrible pounding on the front door. The two girls stared at each other. Lucy grabbed the knife firmly in one hand, while she shoved the pepper and meat pounder into her pockets and snatched the vinegar in the other hand. Meanwhile, Elizabeth pocketed the string and clutched the skillet like a baseball bat, slowly inching toward the door.
There was a loud bang and the door flung open. The man rushed inside wildly looking around with his dark wicked eyes, still holding the dagger. Before he could raise his weapon, Lucy ran forward spraying vinegar directly on his face. He howled in pain. Seizing the opportunity, Elizabeth ran forward and smacked the man with the skillet. He fell forward. Lucy was still spraying vinegar and decided to pull out the pepper as well. She then took the meat pounder and swung it madly around, aiming at fingers and toes. The man was curled on the floor. Elizabeth hit him squarely in the back.
“Keep hammering at him, Lucy!” Elizabeth yelled.
Lucy grinned, “My pleasure!”
She snatched the silver dagger from the man, who had been stabbing blindly into thin air. Apparently, Lucy was greatly enjoying taunting the forty-something man. “Ha! And you thought you could take me down! Wait till Mommy sees me!”
Elizabeth could tell the man was loosing strength. It wasn’t long before she had tied both hands and feet (and coated them with honey for good measure). After a few more blows to the head with the heavy iron skillet, their prisoner was out cold.
Then they heard a car pull up into the driveway and a cheery voice yell, “Elizabeth, dear, you really shouldn’t leave that door open!” Elizabeth and Lucy smiled at each other. “No one’s going to believe us!” they muttered simultaneously.