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Goodbye Peach part I
Amber walked up the path in front of her two story Victorian house to the front door. She shoved the key into the lock, stifling a yawn. The deadbolt slid back, she turned the doorknob, and quickly stepped inside out of the cold, wet November evening. She pulled the key out of the deadbolt and shut the door, cutting off the frigid wind that was pushing its way into the house.
She yawned again as she put here keys on the hall table and took her coat off.
An aging golden retriever walked towards her in a stiff, tired way. The cold air effected his joints and made him move more slowly than usual.
“Hey there, Joey,” she said happily. “You keeping an eye on things?”
He sat at her feet, tail wagging slowly on the hard wood floor as she scratched his head.
“Good boy. Let’s get you something to eat.”
His tail wagged a bit more quickly as he stood up and followed her into the kitchen.
Amber picked his bowl up off the terra cotta tile floor and set it on the counter. She yawned several more times as she filled it with food and then returned it to its place on the floor.
Joey immediately began to eat and Amber laughed. Eating was about the only thing he did quickly any more.
Amber went upstairs to change out of her work clothes, bumping the heat up a few degrees as she passed the thermostat.
In the bedroom, she grabbed her wedding ring off the dresser and slipped it back onto her ring finger. She never wore it to work for fear of losing it or getting some unmentionable fluid on it. Those were the hazards of working in the ER.
She took her scrubs off, took a long, hot shower, and then put on an old pair of jeans and a red, long-sleeved tee shirt. After brushing out her wet hair, which looked almost black in its damp state, she went down to the kitchen to find something to eat.
Her husband, Dylan, had told her that he was going out to have a few drinks with some of the guys from the office that night after work so Amber and Joey had the house to themselves.
“What should I eat, Joey?” Amber asked, turning away from the open refrigerator to look at the dog.
He snorted lightly in his sleep but offered no other advice.
She rolled her eyes then grabbed the raw materials for a sandwich. “Some help you are, dog.”
The first bout of thunder crashed over the Victorian house as she pulled two slices of bread out of the bag.
Just what we need, she thought sarcastically. More rain.
Bloated rain drops spattered against the kitchen window. Thunder rolled slowly across the sky with lightning racing ahead of it. Just as Amber was cutting a tomato, thunder crashed all around, the lights were extinguished, and she sliced her finger open with the knife.
“D*** it!” She swore loudly, dropping the knife and raising her finger to her mouth.
She ran her hand under the faucet for a few moments then wrapped her finger in a paper towel.
“Brilliant,” she muttered. Joey snored on in the corner, oblivious to the world around him.
When her finger had stopped bleeding, Amber started looking for a flashlight. She knew that there were several scattered around the house, but Dylan had a habit of moving things. She loved her husband but, sometimes, the things he did were so annoying.
Another wave of thunder exploded in the sky and Amber froze. Through the thunder, she had heard the sound of at least one car door slamming.
Alarm flared in her mind. Dylan wouldn’t be home for hours. It was a Friday. His friends would keep him out late. And her father always called before he came over because he knew how much she hated surprises. There was almost seventy yards between the houses in her neighborhood. Even on a clear day Amber never heard the neighbors closing their car doors. It wasn’t the neighbors. And there shouldn’t have been anyone in her driveway.
A seed of fear planted itself in her stomach.
“Oh grow up, Amber! You’re being completely irrational,” she scolded herself quietly.
None the less, she moved carefully towards the stairs and up to the second floor. There was a flashlight in one of the pockets of her scrubs. It was small, but it would make her feel better.
As she walked through the door into the bedroom, a sound reached her ears that made her heart stop. It was the front door opening.
Dylan was supposed to take care of that stupid squeak, she thought and then laughed. It wasn’t her normal, pleasant laugh. It was choked, panicky.
She slowly closed the bedroom door and locked it. After locking the bedroom door, she walked around the dark shapes that were the dresser and the bed into the bathroom, completely forgetting the flashlight, and locked that door behind her.
She gripped the vanity tightly and inhaled deeply. Her eyes had slowly adjusted to the darkness and she could see her reflection in the mirror. Her long, dark hair hung around her face and shoulders in damp tresses. Her blue eyes looked like big, black saucers in her face, which had been drained of blood.
She took another deep breath, trying to ignore the heavy sound of footsteps climbing the stairs.
Through the stress, her analytical mind began to work.
I could jump out of the window, she thought. And I would brake an ankle and be no better off.
She then began looking for a weapon. But it was just a bathroom. She could hardly fend off the intruders with a plunger and a bar of soap.
There was a loud crack as the bedroom door was forced open.
B****rds, she thought. Fixing that door frame is going to be such a pain.
She heard Joey begin to bark downstairs, but he hadn’t been able to climb the stairs in over a year. The bark was useless if there was no bite to back it up.
The doorknob on the bathroom door shuddered for an instant, then stopped. A moment later, the door crashed open.
The cruel beam of a flashlight erupted through the now open door, illuminating the bathroom. Amber shielded her eyes from the torch’s vicious glare.
“Hello, peach,” the man holding the flashlight said. Under normal circumstances, his voice would have been appealing. It was husky, yet smooth. Like a glass of eighteen-year-old Laphroaig.
But in the current situation, it was like an iron hand clenching her heart.
He stepped forward, two other men, each armed with their own flashlight, close behind him. They were standing behind the light so she couldn‘t make out any of the details in their face. She could only see their size and they were all much larger than she was.
Amber, still half blinded by the glare of the light, tried to fight him, but he grabbed her arm and wrenched it behind her back. It happened so quickly that she wasn’t sure it actually had happened until pain flared angrily in her shoulder. He grabbed her other arm and held onto it tightly, rendering her, essentially, powerless.
One of the other two men stepped forward, handing his flashlight to the third intruder. He pulled something out of his pocket and stepped towards Amber. That something glinted in the light.
It was a hypodermic needle.
He pulled the cap off the needle with his teeth, then, after finding the artery pulsing in her neck, jabbed the needle into her skin.
Amber gasped immediately feeling woozy. As her vision faded, the second man pulled a light cloth bag over her head.
Just before her legs gave out, the first man let go of her arms and slung her over his shoulder like a bag of dog food.
“Your daddy’s bank account is gonna make us rich men,” he said.
B****rds, she thought, drunkenly.
She lost consciousness and it was all over.