Michelle wakes to loud noises.
She climbs out of bed, her little feet touching the cold floor. Clutching her stuffed kitten close to her heart, she walks out of her room and into the dimly light hallway.
“Daddy, Mommy.” She calls out.
The noises get louder as she nears the stairs. She hears two-man voices and a woman’s voice. Voices she’ll never forget. Voices that will chase her in her dreams.
Just as she reaches the top of the staircase, she hears a series of loud bangs that leave her ears ringing. With wide eyes, she watches her daddy fall to the floor, red liquid pooling around his body. She hears her mommy’s scream.
Fear grips the little six-year-old girl and makes her want to scream, to run to her daddy. But her survival instincts kick in. Though she doesn’t fully understand it, everything tells her that her daddy won’t wake up again, just like her little puppy.
She clasps her hand over her mouth to stop from making a noise, even as hot tears continuously fall, fast and thick onto her stuffed toy. She can feel the wetness of her skin and each drop as it emerges from her open eyes.
She remembers her mommy’s words, instructions, and practices on what to do if found in such a situation. She turns, intending to run back to her room, to her hiding place. However, she loses her footing and stumbles in her hast, falling to the floor with a dull thud. Still, the noise is loud enough to alert the intruders of her presence.
“No!” her mommy screams, “Leave her alone! She has nothing to do with it! It’s me you want! Don’t touch her. I’m begging you, please. She’s just a child.” Her pleas fell on deaf ears.
One of the assassins, steps over her daddy’s twitching body. Her daddy reaches out his hand and grabs the assassin’s ankle, “don’t.” he chokes on his blood as it spills out of his mouth. He isn’t dead yet, not when his little girl is still in the house.
The assassin pauses, looking down through his cold black eyes, sucking in the man’s soul. “Not dead yet?” He aims for his heart this time. At point-blank, three shots to the heart. There’s no way he’s surviving that. Still, the man keeps his iron grip on the assassin’s ankle not intending to let go even as he breathes his last.
The assassin clicks his tongue, “stubborn bastard.” Satisfaction rises in his gut as he frees his ankle and heads toward the staircase and down the hallway. More shots are fired and the house goes silent except for the assassin’s stomping boots, loud and deliberate.
Michelle hears the approaching footsteps. She freezes when the door to her room opens. The assassin pauses in the doorway and then steps into the room. He looks around the room but then glances at the bed.
“Come out, come out wherever you are.” She hears his mocking voice.
“Little mouse? Little mouse. I do love a game of hide and seek. Lemme see. Where could you be hiding?” He bends over the bed and looks under it. He makes a disappointed noise. “Nope, not here.”
Michelle is hiding in the closet. Through the tiny gap, she sees a pair of boots enter the room. She’s already holding her breath, hands tightly clasped over her mouth. ‘Don’t make a noise. Don’t cry, don’t cry.’
She stops breathing and watches the boots turn toward the closet. Then she watches as they turn toward the bed. His muscular frame bends over it. Then they disappear from her sight.
“Whoa, you’re so good at this game. But you chose to play with the wrong person…”
Michelle closes her eyes. Everything goes quiet.
Suddenly the closet door opens and the clothes are pushed aside, exposing the frightened little girl to him. He looks down at her and grins maliciously.
“…because I always win.”