Monday, February 22, 2021

SHORT STORY: Uninvited Guest - A Home Invasion Story

My name is Charlie and this is the story of my little sister’s abduction.  It all started many years ago on a day like any other.  I attended the same school as my sister Agnetha, who was two years younger than me.  I was 10 and she was 8. 

James Patrik Uninvited Guest - A Home Invasion Story

My relationship with Agnetha wasn’t always perfect.  Like any little sister, she could be annoying.  The two of us had disagreements, but they were always petty and of little consequence.  The kinds of things only siblings argue about.  Nevertheless, even when we quarrelled, I never lost sight of the fact that I was her older brother, and as such, it was my job to protect her.

Our school was like any other in the prefecture.  A government institution, administrated and funded by the Ministry of Compliance with the express goal of generating young adults ready to assume positions in the labour force.

Our neighbourhood was by no means affluent.  Most of the kids at school were in a similar position.  Both parents working full time, typically manual labour roles.  Every day, we each wore our standard issue school uniform, designed specifically to foster group cohesion and a sense of community.  All except for Sandoval.

Sandoval was the “weird” kid.  You know the type.  Every school has one.  Pale and mostly silent, as a child Sandoval cultivated a mystique few adults were capable of.  He often appeared dishevelled, and on more than one occasion appeared at school with large sections of his head shaved.  Once, during swimming practice, I caught a glimpse of the much talked about surgical scars that adorned his extremities.  Though I wasn’t able to articulate it back then - Sandoval scared me.  I think he scared all of us, and so, unsurprisingly, we kept our distance. 

Then one day, an incident.  While waiting in line for our lunchtime allotment, poor Agnetha bumped into Sandoval as he held his tray.  It was an accident, plain and simple, but it scattered his food all over the floor.  I remember vividly watching the whole affair unfold, as if in slow motion.  Sandoval’s tiny milk carton upended on the floor, the grey liquid slowly soaking into the carpet.

I was sat a few feet away with Alex Vasquez and his second cousin Antoinette.  As soon as I saw what had transpired, I rushed to Agnetha’s side.  She was frozen in terror as Sandoval simply stared at her with his cold, unblinking eyes.  Without emotion, or almost any inflection at all, he brought his mouth to her ear and informed her that she would be taken from her home.  It would occur in the next few days, and most likely at night.

I grabbed Agnetha by the arm and guided her to one of the cafeteria tables as she apologised profusely to Sandoval.  Her offence was nothing more than quite literal spilled milk, but Sandoval’s chilling threat seemed disproportionate and quite frankly, insane.  Among the kids, there were all sorts of rumours about Sandoval’s home life.  His parents were apparently deceased and he was now a ward of the state.

Over the next few days, we tried to put Sandoval’s menacing words out of our minds.  He was after all, only a child and his reaction was more likely the result of social exclusion rather than some pathological need for revenge.  Mundane normality resumed, until that one Friday in April.  That day I’ll never forget.  The day the Fox appeared.

Returning from school, Agnetha and I let ourselves into our house.  “Latch key kids”, old Mrs McGorgom next door would call us.  I never understood what that meant, or what precisely a latch key was.  Mrs McGorgom would do well to mind her own business. 

Mother and Father worked double shifts, so we didn’t see too much of them during the week.  I never knew much about their work, except that it was difficult, exhausting labour.  Venturing downstairs for a glass of water one night, I caught sight of them both dressed in their jumpsuits, stinking of hog fat.

Coming home to an empty house was second nature for Agnetha and I, and of course, we had a daily ritual.  After school we would sit in the kitchen with some snacks and watch the afternoon programming for a while before attending to our homework and chores.  That day, we were halfway through the daily telecast when we heard a knock at the door.  Before I could check the security feed to see who was there, the front door exploded open.

Extending a long, spindly leg past the threshold, a giant Fox appeared.  Humanoid, about seven feet tall, he had to crouch just to make his way inside.  Serpentine, his movements were slow and deliberate.  Bizarrely dressed in a pin striped suit, complete with waistcoat and polished shoes, the Fox appeared attired like an old-fashioned gentleman.

Simply standing there in the front room of our house, Agnetha and I could only stare back at him, our mouths agape at the mere fact of such a creature’s existence.  The Fox did not speak, nor utter a sound; he just stood there, staring at us with his cold, yellow eyes.

In a flash, it was as if the most primitive parts of our brains took hold – components inherited from primitive humans who lived in fear of predation from animals in the wild.  We both ran, Agnetha first, up the stairs to our bedrooms.

The Fox gave chase - he moved quickly, using his long legs to traverse a few feet at a time.  I pumped my calves as quickly as I could, catching sight of the Fox’s glistening serrated teeth.  Agnetha slid into her bedroom and slammed the door shut. 

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I ran straight into my bedroom and hid under the bed.  My heart pounding, I tried my best to control my breathing, but I could barely catch my breath.  All at once, I resisted the uncontrollable urge to piss my pants in terror at the thought of that awful Fox suddenly finding me.  What would he do to me if he did?  I imagined his fearsome teeth, tearing through my flesh.  Why was he here?  What was happening?  I closed my eyes tight, silently praying, willing for the moment to be over and for him to be gone. 

Then all of a sudden – nothing.  Silence.  I was alone in my room under my bed, surprised at the hot tears I found streaming down my cheeks.


Agnetha’s voice, crying out.  I slid out from under the bed and sprang to my feet faster than I thought my body capable.  Freed from my fear, I raced down the corridor and descended the stairs.  I moved so fast my feet barely touched the ground. 

Then, something else, something more my senses became aware of.  A smell, old and familiar.  Acrid and heavy.  Smoke.  The scent of burning wood.  The smell of fire.

As I came screaming downstairs, I saw the Fox throw a lit match onto the living room carpet where a small fire was already crackling.  Slung underneath his left arm was Agnetha, kicking and screaming louder than I have ever heard another human scream before or since. 

“Let my sister go!” I roared, as I ran at the Fox consumed with rage but still unsure of precisely what to do. 

Spinning around to regard me he issued fourth a swift kick, his bony foot landing squarely upon my chest and sending me hurtling across the room.  Agnetha under his arm, the Fox calmly strolled out the front door, casually tossing Agnetha through the side door of an unmarked white van that had been apparently waiting outside, its engine idling.  The Fox entered the vehicle himself, collapsing his spider-like mass into the small space as the door slid shut and the van drove off.

I never managed to get a look at the driver, but there, sat smugly in the passenger seat was Sandoval.  He had watched the entire ordeal unfold, and had most likely orchestrated it as some form of twisted retribution.

Still reeling from the Fox’s assault, I chased after the van, but it was no good.  It was too fast, and soon enough, it disappeared over the horizon.  I stood there, alone, in the middle of the street once again gasping for air as my house burned behind me.

Through her upstairs window, I could see Mrs McGorgom watching wordlessly from her wheelchair – too afraid to call the local constabulary for fear of being labelled a ‘subversive’.  Evidently, someone cared enough to eventually summon the fire suppression services.  I could hear their distinctive sirens blaring in the distance, the sound growing louder as they grew nearer. 

As hot tears streamed down my cheeks, I summoned the courage to place one foot in front of the other and slowly began walking back to the house.   Tall flames now burst through the windows of our front room, peppering the front lawn with shards of shattered glass.  In that moment, I had no words.  I wondered what had just happened. 

What would I tell my parents? 

What would I tell myself?

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