The Intruder

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“Wake up! Dan, wake up!” 

 

Someone was shaking me furiously. I awoke with a start and looked around. Everything was dark; it was clearly late into the night. I leaned over to my bedside table and switched on the lamp, irritated. Turning over, I saw my wife sitting up in bed, looking absolutely terrified. For the past month – ever since we had moved into this house, actually – I’d had a terrible case of insomnia. This insomnia wasn’t due to health issues or stress; it was due to the noises that disturbed me every night. Menacing voices, thuds, pitiable cries, terrified screams; it was like a playlist of horror was stuck on repeat inside my head. I wasn’t alone; my wife heard them, too. We had both begun seeing a therapist to find out the cause of this, but nothing had helped.

 

“What’s the matter, love?” I asked, instantly worried.

 

“There’s an intruder in the house.” she whispered. “I – I heard noises in the hall….”

 

“Let’s call the police, then.” I soothed her, reaching out for my phone, but she grabbed my hand tightly.

 

“No, no, they won’t get here in time. We’ll just have to hide and hope it goes away.” Her eyes were wide with fear.

 

“It?” I questioned.

 

She looked around, as if someone might be eavesdropping, and then finally said “I don’t think the intruder’s human.”

 

This was a preposterous notion, of course. Her mind was probably playing tricks on her. But then again, I’d never seen her so disoriented. So, not wanting to upset her further, I played along, shoving my phone in my pocket and following her out of the room. She cautiously opened the door and looked up and down the passage. At one end was the hall; at the other, a storage closet. On the wall opposite us, a number of doors led to the spare bedrooms and the kitchen.

 

“Go hide in the closet.” she commanded me, “I’ll go get a knife from the kitchen.”

 

“I can get it.” I insisted, not wanting to leave her alone, lest she should do something stupid.

 

“No, no, you don’t know where the knives are kept!” she insisted. Seeing that I was still unconvinced, she reasoned further – “Unlock the closet, it’ll take you some time. You know how difficult the lock can be.”

 

Finally, I gave in, and we parted. The door of the closet opened surprisingly easily, and I slipped in. Still half-asleep, I rubbed my eyes and groaned. It would take me forever to fall asleep again now.

 

“Where is she?” I muttered to myself. I had been waiting here for what seemed like an eternity; my wife hadn’t turned up yet. What if the intruder (if there was one) had caught up with her? I quickly opened the door and stepped out, and almost banged into someone.

 

I grabbed her shoulders in relief. “Thank god! I was so worried! What took you so….wait.”

 

She wasn’t terrified anymore. She was holding the meat knife, and her eyes were feral. And that’s when I remembered…

 

My wife had been killed by an ‘intruder’ a week ago.

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