Written for Short Story Slam
I can’t sleep. I lay on my side watching the glowing green numbers on my bedside clock ticking the time away. Minutes, hours; will this night never end? A car whooshes past and a blade of light shoots through the gap in the curtains and slashes sabre-like across the ceiling. Then silence. An uneasy silence. Now and then the hoot of an owl. Now and then the rustle of leaves. Tonight something is different. I don’t know what and I don’t know why. But something isn’t right.
What’s that? A low thump from the room below. Oh, it’s nothing. I probably imagined it. They say counting sheep helps. Doesn’t help me. What was that joke I heard about sheep the other day? Or was it pigs? Never mind. Another hour has passed. Perhaps I shouldn’t have eaten so late. There it is again, that thump. I can feel my heart beginning to beat faster, and faster, and faster, and faster. I’m not imagining things, that was clearly the clink of a glass. There’s someone down there. They said on my bedside radio the other day not to face an intruder, but there’s no way I’m going to let anyone get away with trashing my place.
I knew this cricket bat would come in useful one day. It’s never hit a ball; not yet anyway! I shouldn’t be joking at a time like this; it’s just a nervous reaction. This is serious. I never realised these stairs creaked. My heart feels as if it’s about to leap out of my chest. Breathe. Breathe. Slowly.Silently.
I push the door to my kitchen open very slowly, inch by inch. There’s a torch on the table lighting up the wall opposite. Suddenly an invisible hand grabs the torch and it paints a waving pattern of light in the darkness as the intruder flies through the back door and out into the yard.
Silence. All I hear is the cathump cathump cathump of my heart. I venture into the kitchen and fumble for the switch on the wall. For a second I’m blinded by the light. There on the table is my favourite whisky glass; I’m sure I put it away last night. There’s scotch in it. I never leave a drink unfinished. And what is my hourglass doing beside it? It’s been upturned and the sand is flowing through. Why can’t I move, why am I frozen to the spot? Something in my jumbled head is telling me to grab it and turn it over again. With a jerk I manage to snatch it but not before the last grain of sand falls through. The end .