Short Story: Monsters on the Doorstep
Monsters on the Doorstep
This was a good day. James emerged from the courthouse with a wide grin, grasping the documents he’s received. The judge found him financially stable after all the years, he may be able to see his son and daughter at last, the only thing he needs now is the approval of his former wife.
He stops at the corner and inhales the cold autumn air while the evening Sun warms up his face. There’s a familiar alley across the street, he slept there quite a few times just a year ago.
He shakes his head and continues his way home.
Those times are gone. He hasn’t drunk anything for months; he has a house with a garden for BBQ and a stable job with friendly coworkers.
On the way home he stops by the coffee shop, orders a mocha latte and tips the old lady serving him. She’s doing her job well and she has grandchildren, she deserves those pennies.
His new home is in a less-exquisite area, it’s one from thousands of the same design. But it looks nice, with its small porch, two stories and large kitchen. He loves cooking; a gas heated oven was a must.
The sun sets as he makes his bed after a fine dish of turkey breasts. He’s lying in the bed, thinking. There’s something off.
Did he take his evening medication?
Can’t remember. Wait! Oh no, the food! He left it out on the table. Damn haste. He reaches for the light switch.
Something is dropped downstairs. Probably something round, since it rolls through the kitchen floor, stopping only after a few seconds. He pulls back his hand. He too knows he lied about the area being less-exquisite.
Or at least told a half-truth to himself.
One of the most crime infested suburban areas around. It must be that bloody gang of rascals that have parked in front of his house yesterday. He pulls out the top drawer, it reveals a S&W revolver. He grabs it, it is too light to be loaded.
The small reading light is lit and a box of .357 ammo is pried open. As he loads the pistol, a cracking sound shakes him from downstairs, he drops the bullet, it falls down to the carpet. He reaches for it, but is unable to clutch his fingers around it. Is his hand shaking? Why is sweat dripping down his cheek? Is he that anxious?
He jumps up from the bed, and is about to investigate the situation downstairs. But wait, he falls down to the chair. His vision is distorted, a bunch of small colorful dots fill up his sight. A buzzing sensation feels his toes, cold shakes his body.
Who knows how many are down there.
There may be a whole gang wreaking havoc in his kitchen. What will he do with only eight bullets? The chair feels warm. Maybe he should wait it all out sitting there, looking at the door.
His life is worth a lot more than the LCD television he bought last week. That must have been it, the cracking. They saw the new face in town and thought they’d teach him a lesson. They will ruin his whole house while he’s sitting there, shaking and trembling from fear.
The image of the alley conquers his mind. No! He isn’t going back there! He’d sooner die than start it all over. The cold nights under the newspaper blanket, the rejections at all those job interviews, the shame of lice crawling on his back…
He jumps up once again and picks up a napkin to wipe off the sweat from his pale, almost corpse-like face. His fingers squeeze the handle of the pistol so hard his knuckles start to ache. He grabs the door handle with his other hand, and hesitates for a bit.
The door slams open; he enters the hallway with the shaking gun pointed forward. Everything’s silent. They must have heard him. They must be coming for him.
The door closed behind him, his hand blindly wiggles after the handle but he can’t find it while looking forward. There’s no way back. He continues onward to the stairs.
As he’s about to make his first step, his right foot slips and he almost falls over. Damn, it hurts. He imagines the intruders downstairs. They run around with baseball bats, their faces shrouded by hoodies, only revealing evil grins and fangs.
He shoots the bastards, the remaining few flee and he’s crowned a hero of the hood. He shakes his head. Unlikely. The lone hero is cornered by the vile creatures, they beat him to the floor. A funeral is held with only a few people attending. He can see his children crying, but his wife is nowhere.
None of his coworkers are there either. If only he had more time to befriend them. He reaches the corner turn in the stairs. With his body stamped to the wall, he peeks out.
The living room is empty. There’s only one place left, the kitchen. He cocks the revolver and walks up to the corner. He can do it. He can defeat them. His heart is pounding, the revolver in his hands dances around on the beat.
He stops breathing through the nose, it’s too noisy. He inhales through his open mouth, silent like an assassin. He imagines himself in a tuxedo with a Walther PPK, about to execute the enemy dictator speaking behind the podium.
But wait, it seems like there’s food from on top of the dictator’s lectern, and the enemy itself is packing out the remaining food from James’s fridge!
He is about to address the thief, but no sound leaves his throat. He clears it, the thief stops, and turns his head. A chocked, silent “Stop!” leaves James’s mouth as he points the pistol at the intruder. There he goes. The vile creature, caught in the middle of his sinister act. He can finally end this nonsense.
He can pull the trigger.
Can he? His finger is numb. The thief is just standing there, staring blank at him, while he fails to fire the gun. What renders him unable to shoot? Is his firearm faulty? He has never brought it to a firing range before, it has been lying in the drawer ever since he moved here a few months ago.
Is it sweat running down his face?
No. It’s a drop of tear. He is crying. Like a spoiled brat at his mother, he shouts at the thief. “Leave me alone!”
The invader drops the cheese it’s been holding, it lands beside a cracked-open bottle of maple syrup. He’s done it! The enemy raises its hands above its head, he defeated it! The only thing left now is to call the police.
He’ll just grab the landline phone over there and – What has just happened? The thief made a step aside from the syrup puddle, and he pulled the trigger.
The sound shakes the windows.
The police officer keeps telling him he made the right choice. They arrived half an hour later, and are cleaning up the mess while taking notes of Lord-knows-what. Doesn’t matter what they say.
He didn’t pull the trigger right away, he knew what he saw.
It could have ended without bloodshed. He doesn’t know why he pulled the trigger. Was it an answer to some sudden move, or out of plain fear? He no longer remembers.
© 2015 Medvekoma