Short story – the daily post

Crisp wind blew through the slightly open door as Jane prepared to say goodbye to her husband for the day. He had returned to the kitchen to get his keys, leaving her waiting in the entranceway. She smiled as she felt it would be the perfect day to take some time out. Work had been hectic of late as the rush towards the end of the financial year was causing unnecessary panic for some of her clients. The added stress of her teenage children taking mid-year exams, had led her to take the day off. A long bath, in house massage and take away for dinner would be all that was needed to recharge the batteries. She kissed her husband warmly and quickly closed the door behind him to limit the loss of warmth from inside the house.

Jane had spent the next hour tidying up the house, so that she wouldn’t need to do it later. She stared out the back window as she waited for the kettle to boil for her green tea that she was looking forward to enjoying in the bath. The doorbell startled her while she was remembering the time her eldest daughter had fallen from the old almond tree in the backyard. For a brief moment she contemplated ignoring the door, but remembered that her car was still in the driveway and Mrs Johansson from next door is well known for popping over to check in on things when something is out of the ordinary.

As Jane opened the door, her wrist buckled as it was forced open toward her. The edge of the door slammed into her face above her left eye, the cut started bleeding immediately. The force of the door slamming into her body sent her flying backwards and she screamed as she slid across the entranceway. Before she knew it she was set upon by someone in dark clothes. The person had slammed their hand onto her face to muffle her screams. The force of the action had caused the back of her head to slam into the tiled floor. She was dazed and let her body relax while she tried to process what was happening. It felt like she had relaxed for a few minutes, but in reality she knew it was only a split second before she started to struggle against her captor.

A muffled voice told her to quieten down and keep still, but she ignored this and fought for her freedom. She heard the front door close and felt another person grab at her feet as she kicked out. All sense of freedom was finally taken from her as the first attacker placed his knee on her chest and then deliberately let his entire weight drop through this one point and pin her to the ground.

The muffled voice again told her to lie still and she acquiesced. She knew it was pointless struggling and resolved to save her energy for whatever torture might be coming. She started to notice things around her. It wasn’t that her eyes had been closed during the initial stages of the ordeal, but more that she had not registered anything. The figure on top of her had been nothing more than a shadow, but now she started to identify some key features. She noticed that the reason for the muffled voice was because the large puffy North Face jacket had had the hood pulled over her assailant’s face, and the drawstring pulled tight. So tight, the edge of the hood was pressing against his nose. The dark sunglasses were cheap petrol station ones. She surmised it was so they could be easily disposed of after whatever was about to take place. The jacket though, surely he wouldn’t throw that out.

She had noticed that her feet were now free, what had happened to the other intruder? It was at this time she noticed some noise coming from her husband’s office. It sounded as if they were looking for something specific. She twisted her head slightly to try and peer in the direction of the noise, hoping to catch a glimpse of a distinguishing feature of the other assailant. With this movement the man on top of her used his other hand to cover her eyes. He must have realised her intention, and she sensed that this was the work of professional intruders.

She listened to the footsteps as the second intruder made their way towards the main bedroom. The sound of drawers opening and closing gave her the impression this could be nothing more than a standard robbery. Thoughts started to run through her mind, had she just been the victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time? If she was at work today, would the intruders still have made their way inside and left a ransacked house for her daughters to find? Was this targeted?

She heard the second intruder approaching her position and stop a few steps short of her. She felt the pressure on her face reduce as the hand covering her eyes was slowly lifted away. She blinked in the light, trying to understand what would happen next and noticed the intruder who was sitting on top of her reach for something near his hip. She saw the edge of the blade glisten as it moved toward her. She instinctively tried to scream and started to squirm. The pressure over her mouth intensified as the man on top of her leaned in. Was this it? Was she really going to be left here for her daughters to find her in a pool of blood? She panicked and felt like she was going to be sick. The muffled voice spoke calmly into her ear,

“Stay calm and everything will be fine. We are going to leave now. We have what we came for. We will be watching the house for the next 15 minutes and if we see anything that intimates that you have contacted anyone, the next time we come in we will be doing the same process, but while your daughters are home and you and your husband are at work. Do not do anything rash.”

The footsteps of the assailants reverberated through the floor as they made their way for the door. Jane lay there, frozen. As the door opened she felt the cold wind, which earlier had been filled with freshness, yet now stung, blow in and envelope her. As the door shut, she closed her eyes, rolled onto her side and cried.

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