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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Surprised (09/06/07)

TITLE: When Laura Woke
By dub W
09/07/07


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Laura woke to the sound of breaking glass. She cocked her ear toward the sound. “Oh, dear Jesus, help us. Someone is breaking in.” She hopped out of bed and ran to the closet. Her husband’s old shotgun was propped in a corner. It hadn’t been fired in years and there was no ammunition in the house. Her husband, John, was in Boise on business. She talked to him just a couple hours before and he said he hoped to be home tomorrow.

The kids.

Laura crept down the hallway and into her twin sons’ room. “Jimmy, Jason, wake up sweeties; real quietly, crawl into the closet.” She hoped her whisper was enough to wake the kids without them saying something loudly.

Jason opened his eyes. “Hey Mommy, what’s going on?”

“Shhhh. Help Jimmy get into the closet. There’s an intruder breaking in downstairs.”

Jason and Laura pulled Jimmy out of the bottom bunk and half carried him across the room. Laura positioned both boys in a corner of the closet then threw one of the bedspreads over them. “Jason, not a sound. Okay?”

A muffled voice answered, “Okay.”

Laura had left the shotgun leaning against the dresser. She carefully picked up the old weapon and opened the door. I need to call the police. She tiptoed back into her own bedroom and found her way to the luminous dial. Carefully she dialed 9-1-1. I wish those tones weren’t loud.

A woman’s voice answered the line. “9-1-1 operator.”

Before the woman could continue Laura whispered, “there’s someone breaking into my house. 2512 Old Salem, Westwood. They broke a window to get in.” Laura accidentally clicked off the phone. oops, maybe they'll send someone. She heard movement downstairs. “Oh, Jesus, I know I’m a sinner, but I need your protection right now.” I hope the Lord hears quiet prayers.

Laura picked up the shotgun and peered out the bedroom door. Only the hallway nightlight was on and the shadows of furniture cast strange shadows. Her tabby cat brushed through her legs and set a cold chill up her spine. They’re probably looking for money or drugs or silver. Shesssh, that silver pitcher of mama’s is so tarnished they’d have to polish it to discover it. She thought about the kids’ piggy banks. “They better not take those piggy banks.”

She hadn’t left any lights on downstairs, so she peeked around the stairway edge to try to see something. A shadow moved across the floor. The streetlight made for an eerie lamp. I think there's just one, but maybe more. She thought heard the china cabinet door open. “Oh, my, they’re going for the china.” She gulped. She hadn’t realized that she spoke out loud.

Laura slid her foot onto the tread of the top step. The step creaked. I told John to fix that. The second step creaked as well Well, now he has two to fix. “If I live through this,” she murmured.

She heard movement coming across the living room toward the stairway. She froze. “Oh, Lord, what now?” Her voice almost squeaked.

Laura quickly tiptoed down two more stairs and paused. The noise was closer. She raised the shotgun, not to shoot but to use as a club.

The footsteps suddenly changed, the banister shook, and a step was taken on the lower treads. Laura swung with all of her might. The old weapon struck something and a male voice screamed in pain. Then a body fell to the floor.

At the same time three uniformed officers burst through the broken back door, flipped on lights and jumped on the man. One officer abruptly took the weapon from Laura.

Laura saw the blood spattered on the stairway walls and instantly felt nauseous. She dared not to look down at the man.

The officers pulled the man’s hands behind his back and handcuffed him, then pulled him to his feet.

“John!” Laura screamed.

“Ma’am, do you know this man?”

Tears ran down her face. “He’s my husband.”

The dazed man looked up. “Laura?"

Laura stammered, "I thought you were in Boise."

Blood dripped from John's forehead. "When I called I was at the airport. Stupid umbrella broke the back door window. I wanted to surprise you."


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This article has been read 744 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 09/13/07
Great job building the suspense.
Janice Cartwright09/13/07
Poor John! I suspected something like but only because of the topic. But when she whacked him with the gun that really threw me off. Surely you wouldn't allow something that awful to happen to the husband. but you did - and so you got me anyway!! Good job!
George Parler 09/13/07
Good writing. I have to admit, it wasn't a big of a surprise that the intruder was the husband due to the humor that was woven into the tension. But it was still a good story no matter what. Well done.
Jacquelyn Horne09/14/07
This is really a cute story. For me it is. John may have a different tale. he he!
Dee Yoder 09/14/07
Poor John? Any husband who sneaks into town, breaks a window in the kitchen, and then tip-toes through the house without calling out that he's home early deserves a knock in the head! Funny and entertaining!
Julie Arduini09/14/07
I kind of wondered too, but it still was very moving. This happened to my roomate in college, all her siblings drove home to surprise the parents and it did NOT work out how they thought!
Verna Cole Mitchell 09/15/07
You set up the suspense just right in the story, and it certainly fit the "surprise" category. Looks like John was the one who got the surprise!
Linda Watson Owen09/16/07
Oh! You had me hanging on every word. You sure know how to build suspense. I think I held my breath through the whole story! So glad you softened the ending by not having her shoot her poor, clueless husband. This should be required reading for all newlywed husband's. I've read true news accounts akin to this. Perfect for 'surprised'.
Jan Ackerson 09/17/07
I love the line "I hope the Lord hears quiet prayers."
Betty Castleberry09/17/07
Good suspense, nice subtle humor. I saw where it was going, but it was a good read anyway. Well done.
Patty Wysong09/17/07
I really enjoyed this. I loved heaing her thoughts. :-)
Sharlyn Guthrie09/17/07
Whew! What a relief. Serves him right, though! Not a good way to surprise your wife. Great job building the suspense. I really felt Laura's fear.
Beth LaBuff 09/18/07
Ouch! -- on two counts. :) Great story, intense suspense. Well done!
Frank Creed09/18/07
I was reading for clues. I'm a slow and deliberate reader, so you did catch me on the address: Salem. Darn fine diversion!
Brenda Welc09/19/07
As a mother I loved all the crazy things she thought about. This was surely surprising! Great writing!
Brenda Welc09/19/07
P.S. I liked the title!
Loren T. Lowery09/19/07
Great suspeseful writing, had me wondering the whole time and I enjoyed the amusing glimpse into Laura's mind.
Joy Faire Stewart09/19/07
Your descriptions are so vivid, I could see Laura sneaking through the house... loved her motherly thoughts.
Dianne Janak09/20/07
Great story and deserving of placing! Thanks for the read, the lesson, and the humor in its midst... Congrats!
Lisa Holloway09/20/07
Good job! This was very entertaining. Congratulations. :)
Marty Wellington 09/20/07
Congratulations, Sue. It's always a delight to read your stories.
Marty Wellington 09/20/07
ooops, sorry Dub. Your entry and Sue's were right next to each other. Congratulations to you, dear Sir. Guess you can't claim 200th place this week, huh?
Edy T Johnson 09/20/07
Good suspense, Dub. Early on I thought it might be the husband, but clever you kept adding more "clues" that made me think "no, the husband wouldn't do THAT!" Very fun reading and congratulations on getting your name up in lights. Thank you, again, for your most welcome comment on my entry, too. You are special!!! (Don'tcha love those exclamation points?)
c clemons09/20/07
This is truly written from a male point of view. Men are thinkers women are emotional, no way would she have hung up from talking to the 911 operator. Neither would her thoughts be so collected. Pray yes, protect the children yes, but to move down the stairs? No way! Next time ask your wife :).