Jenny knew she had to move. If she sat there any longer then the man who had intruded in her home and attacked her family would get her. He might already know where she was. He could be waiting out in the hallway for her to step out. And when she did…
She didn’t want to think about that. She’d already seen the intruder’s handiwork on her dad. If he’d managed to get her mum and sister too… She closed her eyes as the shudder ran through her. Drops of water leaked through her tightly clenched eyelids and ran down her trembling face. Taking a deep breath, she told herself that it was going to be alright. She just had to leave the room, run across the hall, out of the house, and into her car outside. Once she was safely in her car she’d be able to drive into town and get help.
But she was sure that she was the only one left. She hadn’t heard anything for so long. Not since the sound of her sister’s screams had filled the house. Her whole family was already dead which meant the intruder could focus solely on her. Escape was impossible. No! She told herself. That kind of thinking would definitely get her killed.
‘Move or die,’ she whispered to herself. She got moving. On shaking limbs, she turned around and grabbed the door handle. She edged the wood out of its frame slowly. Only the tiniest of creaks sounded, surely not enough to give her away. She peered out through the gap into the hallway and nearly screamed. Her sister, Abigail, was lying against the far wall, one arm was strewn away from her lifeless body, the other hung over her stomach. One eye peeked out from behind her messy brown hair, the other was gone. That whole side of her face had been pulverized into a mash of blood and bone, covered with sticky clumps of matted hair. Discarded on the carpet next to her was their father’s tennis trophy. Once it had been glistening gold, now it was bent and bloody. Her sister’s screams hadn’t sounded that close. That meant the killer had left the body and the trophy there for her to see. He must be nearby. Waiting.
Taking in several shaking breaths and holding back vomit, Jenny tore her eyes from her sister and looked towards the stairs. That end of the room was all clear. She looked the other way, also clear. The killer was nowhere in sight. Next to the front door stood the bowl of keys, exactly where they’d always been. Her key was in there. Unless it had been taken. There was only one way to find out.
Jenny pulled herself to her feet, relieved to find that her legs had not abandoned her just yet. She pulled open the door fully and edged out into the hallway, being sure not to look again at her sister’s corpse. She clamped a hand over her mouth to hold in any involuntary sounds and crept on tip-toes across the carpeted floor. Tip-toes weren’t really needed on such a thick carpet, but she was going to take every precaution. She reached the unit on the far side of the room and thanked whatever deity was on her side that her car keys were still in the bowl. She plucked them up, the metal making a small clink on the china bowl. Then she froze.
A single thud sounded behind her. the thud of a foot falling on the stairs behind her. She wrapped her fingers tightly around the keys. Her arm was shaking so violently she was sure she would drop them.
‘Jennifer,’ he sang softly across the hall. ‘Where are you going, Jennifer? We’re not done yet are we?’ She could hear his steps as he descended the stairs. She turned her head to look over her shoulder and saw the 8-inch chef’s knife in his blood-stained hand. She didn’t need to see any more. She grabbed the handle on the front door, twisted and pulled. It didn’t budge. Her heart hammered away in her chest as she stared stupidly at the door, trying to figure out why it wouldn’t open.
‘Oh dear,’ said the intruder, and she imagined him shaking his head at her. ‘Having a bit of trouble? Oh, the things I’m going to do to you, Jennifer.’ He reached the bottom of the stairs.
The security lock! She reached up and turned the small security lock and heard the bolts slide out of their holes. She tried the handle again and this time the door swung inwards easily. She could see her car clearly in the moonlight just yards away.
‘Jennifer, no!’ the intruder shouted.
‘Fuck you,’ she spat the words over her shoulder and ran out into the night. She didn’t feel the chilly winter cold on her bare arms. She didn’t feel the gravel cutting into the soles of her bare feet. All she felt was the exhilarating adrenaline coursing through her veins as she neared her car. She pressed the button in her hand and her car lights flashed twice as the doors unlocked. She could hear him pursuing her, his boots treading into the gravel. He wasn’t running. She reached the car and saw why, coming to a standstill to take in her discovery. He’d slashed all four tires. They sat sluggishly and deflated beneath the car. Like the air from the tires, her last dregs of hope escaped her and she stood flattened on the driveway.
Fuck it, she thought. Even with flat tires she’d be able to use the car to get away from him. It was worth a try either way. She stepped forward and grabbed the door handle, pulling the car door open. His hand slammed into her back shoving her forward into the door, slamming it closed again. Before she could react his hand was in her hair, pulling her head back.
‘No!’ she screamed as loud as she could. Praying that somebody would be nearby. But she knew it was hopeless. Her parents had chosen a house in the middle of nowhere because they liked solitude. Nobody was going to hear her. Nobody was going to help her. She wriggled in his grip, but he was too strong. He thrust her head forwards, smashing her face into the car window which shattered under the impact. She was momentarily silent. Her mind had gone blank, occupied by pain. Warm moisture oozed over her face as she struggled to regain control of her mind. Then she was flung down on to the floor, the tiny pieces of gravel scraping her skin like claws.
He looked down at her. She couldn’t see much of him in the darkness. The moonlight shone behind him turning his short body into little more than a silhouette. The knife glinted in his hand.
‘Let’s get you back inside,’ he said. He stepped forward and she flung her leg up. Her foot found his balls. They felt squidgy on top of her toes as she forced them up as far as she could, hoping she would crush them. He howled in pain, batting her foot away with one hand. She saw his face twisted in rage. That was the last thing she saw as he swung the knife down, burying it in her gut. A small cry escaped her lips and that was all she could muster.
The pain in the intruder’s genitals faded at the same time as the life flickered out in Jennifer’s eyes. He let out an irritated sigh as he looked down on her lifeless form. He hadn’t been ready to end the game yet. His own temper had ruined his fun. Still, it hardly mattered. In a few nights, a new game would begin and he already had the location set. There was a beautiful large house in the secluded village of Hoo St Werburgh. He didn’t bother retrieving the knife from the dead girl as he walked away from the house, which contained a further three corpses. A new game meant new weapons. Those were the rules of his game and it was a game he was very good at.
‘Fourteen to nothing,’ he said to himself as he stepped off the driveway and disappeared into the darkness.