New Year’s Eve was special to a lot of people. Brandon and his young family were no exception, but they didn’t celebrate by staying up late and shooting guns into the night sky. Brandon had a four-month-old baby and his wife wasn’t big on staying up late, so they had their own little party and went to bed at ten.
Brandon was just beginning to float off to sleep when he heard a frightening noise. Breaking Glass. He sat up in bed and listened to make sure it wasn’t just in his head. A grunt came from the living room. Someone was in the house.
Brandon shot out of his bed and peeked down the hall. He immediately regretted not owning a gun or even a baseball bat. He tip-toed down the dark hall, then stopped as he saw the intruder. The man was wild in appearance. Grizzly hair frizzed over his shoulders and a thick beard hung over his chest. It was too dark to see how filthy he was, but Brandon could smell it.
“What are you doing here?” Brandon was surprised at how polite he could be in such a situation. He didn’t know what else to do.
The intruder pointed a silver gun at Brandon. “I’m hungry.” He slurred.
Brandon stopped and lifted his hands. “I’ll get you something to eat.” Maybe the man was desperate and once his belly was filled he would apologize for the break in and leave.
“I’ll kill you if you call the police.” The man staggered in the living room and waved the gun haphazardly.
“I won’t.” Brandon directed him to the kitchen like a gracious host. The police must be on their way. His best chance at survival was to stall the man.
The stranger kept the gun pointed at Brandon’s mid-section as he shuffled into the kitchen. He took the rack of knives off the counter before Brandon could even consider an attempt at using them to fight back.
“Hurry up!” The stranger groaned.
What kind of midnight snack do you give a lunatic? He could be a serial killer. Brandon searched through the fridge and found some cold cuts and bread. He frantically made the sandwich and wondered how it was all going to end. He thought about his family, still sleeping soundly. What would happen if they woke up to find Brandon dead in the kitchen? He tried not to think about it. The police were probably looking for the creep. They could be minutes away.
“Any women in the house?” halitosis wafted from the strangers lips as he leaned in over Brandon’s shoulder.
Brandon didn’t answer at first, as if he had a choice. He gritted his teeth. Maybe he could wrestle the weirdo to the ground and hold him until the police came.
“Did you hear me?”
“Just my wife and my baby girl,” Brandon replied. He should have lied, said he was living alone.
The intruder mumbled a few fragmented phrases and a tic shook his body like a mild aftershock from a life of drug use.
Brandon slapped the layers of food together haphazardly and presented the dish to his unwanted guest who devoured whatever portions made it past his beard.
Brandon cleared his throat. “Will you be leaving soon?” Thinking it couldn’t hurt to ask.
The stranger looked up from his food like a wild beast interrupted from devouring his prey. He pushed the gun against Brandon’s ribs, just as a reminder. “Where does your wife sleep?” He didn’t bother wiping the crumbs from his face or swallowing the soggy mess still rolling on his tongue.
Brandon swallowed hard. It was like all his saliva had abandoned him. “I think you should leave now.” It was probably the bravest thing he had ever said.
The tic shook the stranger again then he stepped in closer. He mumbled another string of drug-induced gibberish then cocked his gun and pushed the barrel against his victim. Brandon stepped back against the sliding glass door and offered a brief prayer in his mind. He didn’t want to die but that wasn’t the worst thought that ran through his mind. He couldn’t handle thinking about what the creep might do to his family.
A mile away, a half-drunken, self-proclaimed party animal shot his rifle into the air to welcome the New Year. That bullet traveled thousands of feet into the sky until it slowed and arched. The bullet then gained a wicked momentum and crashed through Brandon’s sliding glass door just above his shoulder. The bullet penetrated the criminal’s chest between his ribs and, after pushing through his heart, it lodged it’s self into his spinal cord.
The stranger grumbled something and fell to the ground in a hairy, stinky mess.
Brandon sighed and fell to his knees, grateful for gravity.