Marla sat upright wrenched from a shallow doze. She had not enjoyed a good night sleep since the break in.
Three weeks and four days ago after Wednesday night prayer service Marla came home to a nightmare.
Someone had broken in through the kitchen window at the rear of her apartment and stolen several valuable items then left her home ransacked.
Even though the nightly news reported burglaries in adjacent neighborhoods Marla never thought it would happen to her.
She had prayed for God to help her overcome the fear and feelings of violation and helplessness, but she doubted if she would ever forget.
She wanted to move though that was out of the question since the twelve month lease was barely two months old.
There it was again. She heard a noise and this time she was wide awake.
She started second guessing herself. Had she locked the door before going to bed? Yes she definitely remembered setting the main lock and the deadbolt and the safety chain.
She bought enough of those stick on alarms for all the windows. Surely two locks and chain would prove sufficient for the door.
None of the window alarms had sounded.
She was jumpy. Maybe the noise was all in her mind.
No. There it was again a metallic clicking sound.
Cold sweat beaded her forehead and trembling palms as She fumbled around the night stand for the bottle of pepper spray.
Enough moonlight shone through the curtains to make out shadows of the furniture.
She finally located the small metal canister but her fingers shook so that it rolled off the nightstand and onto the hardwood floor with a tinkling sound.
She froze and listened intently for what seemed like a long time, but heard nothing.
She stood slowly and stifled a groan as she stepped on the fallen bottle.
Marla picked it up and thumbed off the safety lock.
To re-enforce her anxiety she had received several prank phone calls since the robbery.
Though no one answered her frantic pleas she could detect faint breathing on the other end. Not the heavy kind like in a late night suspense movie, but noticeable.
Marla inched her way toward the hall.
“God give me strength and deliver me from the hands of my enemies.” She prayed silently.
She wished that officer Braidon, the policeman that took her report after the incident, would happen by.
He seemed very nice.
He assured Marla that burglars almost never returned. The chances were greater of lighting striking twice.
She wasn’t sure if those statistics made her feel any better.
As Marla rounded a corner Her heart stopped.
She was face to face with officer Braidon.
Behind him the door was closed with the safety chain hanging in two pieces. He must have picked the locks then snipped the chain.
Their eyes locked.
A scream tried to escape but could not. Instead it wedged in her throat making it difficult to breathe.
Her knees locked and she could not move.
“Shhh. Don’t scream and don’t fight me.” He whispered and reached for her.
Marla remembered the pepper spray and emptied it into his face.
Police training included pepper spraying, but it still stung like a swarm of angry hornets.
He roared and clawed at his eyes.
Marla found her legs and sprinted down the hall where she grabbed a telephone from a small table and headed into the kitchen, but the phone quickly ran out of cable.
As she began pressing 911 on the lighted dial the cord jerked the phone from her hands.
She heard a thud, a brief grunt and a lamp smashing to the floor.
Marla dared look into the hall and in the glow of a nightlight saw the intruder lying face down and unconscious where he had apparently tripped over the phone cord and hit his head on the hall table.
She switched on the light and spotted two sets of hand cuffs on his belt which she immediately locked one pair to his wrists behind his back and the other to his ankles.
By this time the 911 operator was on the line.
Later as more officers escorted Braidon out Marla asked him, “Why?”
He just grinned.
Marla noticed her bible on the hall table and gave it to her would be attacker.
“You have my forgiveness, though you haven’t asked, but you will have to ask God for His.”
His smirk faded.
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