Thriller Short Story
I wiped the rain from my face and shrugged off my coat. I hung it on a chair in the dining room to dry. Goosebumps trailed up my arms, so I switched on the space heater.
My roommate, Gena, stomped her rain boots on the mat, and droplets of water flew off in every direction. She kicked off her soggy socks and strode into the kitchen.
I rested on the love seat, the muscles in my back ached from the collision. The doctor said I should be pain-free in few days.
A clap of thunder gently rattled the windows.
Gena returned with two steaming mugs. She handed me one, and I inhaled the sweet aroma of rich green tea. I took a sip; the drink was soothing after a stressful day.
She sat down on the couch with her own cup of tea, curling her legs underneath her body.
“I’m sorry you had to pick me up on your day off.”
“Don’t worry about it,” she said. “I’m just glad you’re okay. It’s not your fault some lady plowed into you.”
I sighed. My poor car.
On my way to work, an elderly woman rear-ended me at a stoplight. I sustained a few bruises and a sore neck, but it totaled my car.
She reached over to squeeze my hand. Her icy fingers gave me goosebumps, but her smile was warm and comforting.
“You should take some ibuprofen like the doctor suggested and get some rest. I’ll wake you in a few hours for dinner.”
I took another drink, letting the hot mug warm my frozen fingers. The crash drained all my energy and fatigue was creeping in.
I finished my tea, my cup in the sink, swallowed two painkillers and climbed the stairs to my room. My legs quivered with each step, and I held tight to the railing for support. I changed out of my wet clothes and crawled under my weighted comforter. I fell asleep seconds after my head hit the pillow.
I awoke a while later when someone slammed the front door. I rubbed my eyes.
The room was pitch black. I sighed and combed through the blankets for my phone. I couldn’t find it in the dark.
According to the clock on the nightstand, I’d slept for three hours.
My body throbbed, and I reluctantly crawled out from under the warm comforter. I grumbled in between yawns. It was dark outside, and the rain relentlessly battered the house. I reached out to flip on the light, but I hesitated when I heard shouting downstairs.
I quickly established one voice as Gena, but she didn’t sound like her normal cheerful self. Normally, she had the calmest demeanor of anyone I knew. She never yelled at anyone before.
The other voice was male, but I didn’t recognize it. Maybe it was Garren, her most recent boyfriend. They split up three weeks ago. I’d only met him once, and we didn’t hit it off. I thought he was standoffish and overly macho.
I flipped on the light, and I opened the door to berate Garren. How dare he be rude to my friend in our home?
“Stop it, Garren! Don’t touch me!”
“Shut up,” he bellowed, his deep baritone reverberated through the house.
Gena’s voice sounded shrill, it gave me goosebumps. I ran back to my bed and searched for my cellphone to call the police. He probably assumed I wasn’t home because Gena’s car was the only one parked in the driveway.
I frantically searched my room, throwing my comforter on the floor and ransacking the nightstand. My phone wasn’t in my room.
Fuck! I must have left it in my coat pocket. In order to get my phone, I’d have to walk through the living room and he’d know that I was home.
What about Gena’s phone?
Her bedroom was next to mine. I crept into the hallway and into her room. Gena whimpered, and I heard a scuffling sound. I cried at the sounds of my distressed friend but forced myself to stay hidden. The best way I could save her was to stay hidden and call the cops.
She kept her phone on a wireless charger on the corner of her desk most nights. The charger held no phone. I checked her bed, dresser, and side table. No luck.
Gena’s sobs carried up the stairs. I fought the urge to run down the stairs and jump on him. What if he overpowered me? There would be no one to save us, I reasoned. I tip-toed back out into the hallway.
It was a little past seven, and I had an idea. As quick as I dared, I rushed back to my room and shut the door, locking it behind me.
I pried open my window. Then I waited several moments for the next deafening crack of thunder before I popped out the screen. It smashed to the ground outside, and I hoped the storm drowned out the noise. I held my breath.
I listened for footsteps coming up the stairs. Nothing. I exhaled, my lungs burned from holding my breath too long.
The next-door neighbors watched TV upstairs every Monday night, and my bedroom window was about seven feet from the window in their entertainment room. If I caught their attention, I could save Gena.
The rain poured in through the open window and soaked the carpet under my feet. If I squinted, I could see the Henderson’s sitting in their matching recliners. I couldn’t yell for fear that Garren would hear me. So I waved my arms wildly over my head, my torso hanging halfway out the window. The rain-drenched my hair and arms.
They continued to watch their movie undisturbed. Shit. They couldn’t see me through the rain.
I picked up a small crystal from my bookshelf and chucked it at their window. It hit the top corner and bounced off.
Both their heads turned toward the noise. A few seconds later, Bill Henderson rose from his recliner and traipsed over to the window. I frantically waved my arms. He scowled at me, but he opened the window.
“What do you think you’re doing? You could have broken my window,” he shouted over the rain.
“Mr. Henderson, you need to help me!” I exclaimed, as loud as I dared.
He scrunched his nose at me. “Young lady, what are you talking about?”
“Please, there is an intruder in our house, and he has Gena. I don’t have my phone and I need you to call the police.”
“This better not be a prank,” he shouted over the thunder. He pointed an accusing finger at me.
His wife pushed her husband aside. She had a phone in her hand and was already dialing. She handed the phone over to her husband, who still looked skeptical.
“Hello, this is Bill Henderson. My neighbor says she has an intruder in her home,” he told the dispatcher.
I breathed a sigh of relief.
Mrs. Henderson stuck her head out of the window, her bangs becoming wet from the rain.
“Are you alright, dear?” she asked.
“He doesn’t know I’m home, but I think he’s hurt Gena,” I replied, my voice cracking.
Bill muttered something to his wife, the phone still held to his ear. She nodded.
“Find a safe place to hide, my dear. The police are on their way, but it will take a few extra minutes because of flooding in the area,” she explained.
I closed the window, and I crawled underneath the desk, skinning my knee on the carpet. Garren’s voice still echoed through the house. I covered my ears with my hands and shivered in the darkness. My skin was icy except for where the tears rolled down.
I needed to stay hidden until the police arrived. I heard a loud smacking sound, followed by a muffled cry.
The police were on their way; I reminded myself. The logical action would be for me to stay hidden, but I had to know if Gena was still alive. She had been my friend for years, and it didn’t seem right to leave her alone with Garren any longer. Against my better judgment, I inched toward the door. There was another whacking sound.
I got to my feet. I took several deep breaths before I was ready.
My hands shook as I turned the knob. Slowly, I inched open the door. Once I was staring at the empty hallway, my body refused to move. I stood in the doorway to my room, paralyzed with fear.
“Come on, Gena needs you,” I whispered, “You can’t be a coward now.”
That seemed to do the trick. I crept to the top of the stairs, hugging the wall, and I crouched low to peak around the corner. The living room was a wreck. Flowers and glass shards lay strewn across the floor from a broken vase, the coffee table was on its side, and there was blood smeared across the couch cushions.
Garren had his back to me. I crept closer.
I could only see Gena’s feet. She wore a single blood-stained sock.
My heart pounded in my chest, and I feared he’d hear me. The cops will be here soon, I reminded myself. This gave me a meager amount of courage.
I had to know for sure that Gena wasn’t dead.
My entire body felt like lead and everything seemed to move in slow motion. Hugging the wall, I crept down the top steps. I crouched down and held my breath.
He didn’t turn to look at me.
Gena laid unmoving on the floor. He’d bound her wrists with a thick layer of duct-taped. He’d left her mouth uncovered and her normally perfect hair was a tangled halo around her head. Her shirt had a lengthy tear at the collar. Blood flowed from a gash in her forehead and her left eyelid looked painfully swollen.
I fought the urge to vomit.
I watched her chest for several seconds. Come on Gena, breath. She inhaled, and I had to cover my mouth to subdue my sobs.
Garren stood over Gena’s body, a hunting knife in his hand.
“You think you can just leave me?” he demanded.
She groaned when he kicked her in the side.
My hands shook. The police were on their way, but I had to keep my friend alive.
“You did this!” he screamed.
She spit up blood. The fresh blood looked even more striking on the light-colored carpet.
“Fuck you,” she spat, her voice no louder than a whisper.
My heart skipped a beat as I watched him raise the knife over his head.
Without thinking, I leaped over the banister and landed on Garren’s back, knocking the knife from his hands. I clawed at his face and punched him in the head. He tore me off his back by my hair, and I toppled to the floor.
He lunged for me, and I crawled out of his reach. I scrambled to my feet.
He recovered the knife from the floor and swung it at me. I couldn’t move fast enough, and the blade sliced my cheek.
I screamed when the steel sliced through my skin. I clamped a hand over the gash in my face. My fingers were immediately wet with blood.
A flood of red and blue flashing lights poured in through the living room window. I hadn’t heard the police sirens over the heavy rain.
Garren looked around the room frantically before focusing his attention back on me.
I grabbed an ornamental vase and hurled it at his head. He ducked to avoid it, and I darted toward the front door.
I turned the deadbolt right before he plowed into my back. The impact knocked the wind out of me and my head hit the door with a loud thud. I laid on the floor gasping for breath. Garren pulled me by my hair away from the door, before he pinned me down by sitting on my abdomen and arms. The weight of his body was crushing. I gasped for air like a fish.
“You ruined everything,” he shrieked, before plunging the knife into my chest.
I didn’t make a sound when the blade pierced my skin. I couldn’t scream because of a lack of oxygen. After several seconds, the pain subsided and my body felt numb.
The police kicked in the front door. The officers swarmed the house, their guns were drawn. Garren didn’t run. He grinned down at me. The color of his face constantly changed from blue to red from the police lights.
Two officers fixed their guns on Garren. He put down the knife, and another officer wrestled him off me. I could hear the surrounding chaos, but everything around me was a blur. I reached out my shaky hand for help.
Someone took my hand and squeezed it. My vision cleared for only a moment, and I looked up at Gena’s face. She was sobbing.
I tried to explain that I was alright, but I was incapable of uttering a single word.
Another person put pressure on my wound. The pain was immense, but it became less painful by the second.
I heard yelling, but I couldn’t understand it. What was she saying? Where was Gena? Was she still holding my hand? I couldn’t tell.
They laid me onto a gurney and loaded me into an ambulance. The lights were bright, and the siren was deafening to my ears.
During the ride, I fell asleep.
Only, I never woke up.
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