Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Fearful (08/23/07)
TITLE: The Intruder
By Lynda Lee Schab
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But she couldn’t move.
If she did, she would be a goner, for sure. Either from a heart attack or from the intruder, lurking just outside the door. She shuddered, violently. Ouch! Shuddering certainly didn't help her back situation.
But as much as she craved to stretch out her aches and pains, Ruth stayed put, cramped inside her tiny apartment’s laundry room - which was actually a closet - pressed up against the dryer. Oh, if only she had held out for an apartment with a full sized laundry room.
At least she had seen the intruder first and had time to escape before he caught sight of her. She didn’t want to think about what could have happened if he'd caught her unaware...
Another shudder. Another shooting pain up her back. Ruth tried quietly shifting her weight to her other foot but it didn’t provide much relief.
She put a hand to her chest and concentrated on taking deep breaths. Slow and steady...quietly. In...out...in...out.
Ruth didn’t want to watch but couldn’t help herself. She’d seen enough movies to know closing her eyes was not an option. Better to observe his every move so she would have the advantage. So she peered through the slit between the doors.
Oh-oh. He was on the move.
Ruth followed him with her widened eyes. Back and forth, back and forth. What is he doing? She wished he’d stand still long enough for her to get a good look. As scary as it was for her to look at him, she wanted to memorize as much as she could, in case she was later asked for a description so the intruder could be caught. But he wouldn’t slow down.
Oh no. Where did he go? He disappeared from her line of vision. Ruth desperately strained to catch a glimpse of him again but to no avail.
Her heart picked up speed again. What if he’s right outside the closet? What if he’s getting ready to attack me? What if...
A door slammed.
“Ruth? Honey? Are you home?” Patrick.
Fear and relief washed over her at once. But she had to warn her husband.
“Ruth?” Suddenly, everything grew dark as her husband's six-foot frame stepped in front of the closet.
“In here,” she whispered.
Ruth squinted at the light as Patrick opened the doors, his brow creased in confusion. Then his face softened. “Another spider?” he asked.
Ruth swallowed hard and nodded. She poked her head around the corner, eyes darting away from her husband’s face and to the floor, in search of the intruder. She pressed a hand to her aching back.
Patrick chuckled. “Which way did he go?”
Patrick leaned forward and kissed her forehead. He shut the closet doors. “I’ll let you know when it’s safe to come out.”
Ruth breathed a sigh of relief, her heart finally slowing to a normal rhythm.
“Are you sure it went this way? I don't see it!” Patrick called.
Her heart contracted. Panic seized her again and a line of sweat trickled down the side of her face.
Wait a minute. Was that sweat?
Or was it...
Could it be...
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