I call them marauders because that’s what they are. They have no homes, no food, no provisions of any kind. They lurk in the shadows that darkness provides, desperate in the worst kind of way for survival. They’re here now.
I can hear them scratching. At the doors. At the windows. Trying desperately to find a way in. They scratch, punch, bang at the metal shutters I had installed over my doors and windows. Tonight is bad. They’ve been ramming at the front door all night. One of the bolts is starting to give. It won’t hold until dawn. The fight I have been dreading is near. I hold my gun steady. Listen. Watch.
I hear their nefarious squeals when the shutter gives a little. It has bolstered their spirits. They won’t stop now. They must have been plotting how to get through the shutters. I push the couch in front of the door. They hear the scraping and know there is life inside. I hear one of them call out orders to check the other doors. Now groups of them scratch, punch, bang at all the doors and windows on the first floor. The sounds of their desperation pound through the air and in my ears. It is dark, but I can feel the sweat beading on my forehead. I take turns wiping my hands on my pants, then steady my grip once more on my gun.
For a moment I think maybe they will just take the food and clothes and leave. That is a fleeting thought because my heart knows better. I hear the horrible screech of metal folding in a direction it isn’t supposed to followed by the thump of footsteps climbing through the hole they’ve made in my fortress. I hear them swarming downstairs like hungry locusts. For the moment they are gorging themselves on food and water. I keep my back steady against the wall waiting for their minds to turn back to finding me.
I take shallow breaths to calm myself and steady my hands. I set the little red dot on the door and wait. I listen for the squeak of the second to the last stair, grateful that I never had it fixed. A tear falls from my eye as I hear them plundering through the supplies I spent years gathering. I may die tonight. There is no one to come for me. They’ll find me one day, two days, a month from now. Or they’ll never find me at all.
More footsteps find their way over the metal door that’s been pushed in. I lost track of how many there are. My life is flashing before my eyes in pictures. The silence has a foreboding thickness to it. The break of dawn doesn’t matter now, it only means I’ll be able to see my attackers coming for me. My fear turns to numbness. I hear the squeak of the second to the last stair and prepare myself for the fight.
Audra Russell is a freelance writer, blogger, and native Jersey girl who has been living in a Maryland world for the past 21 years. She’s held an array of jobs over the years, but her two undergraduate degrees in journalism show where her true passion lies.
She’s working on getting her first novel published. In the meantime, she keeps busy creating short stories and sharing writing tips and tricks for emerging writers.
When she’s not writing, reading, or honing her craft, she’s spending time with her family and growing food in her backyard farm (and trying to keep her chickens from stealing tomatoes).
Oh…and she loves the smell of books, freshly sharpened number two pencils, and scotch tape. But who doesn’t, right?