Thursday, December 07, 2017

The Escape

   When they heard it on the news, they did not worry. It happened more than 100 miles from where they lived but the escape was countrywide news.

   They were not easily scared, otherwise they never had bought this house in the middle of nowhere. They fell in love with it as soon as they saw the photo in the window of the estate agency. It was not the romantic cottage they always had in mind. It was a mid sixties bungalow with at the time of the build fashionable glass cubes next to the black metal front door. The bungalow was plastered and painted white which meant maintenance surrounded by so many trees but not an obstacle for them. They wanted the house.

   They decorated it to their own taste and modern standards and felt very much at home. Both had a job in town and commuted; every day they looked forward going home.
   Within 6 years, they were blesses with two children; a boy John and a girl Susan. The children loved the big garden where they had so many toys to play with. Like their parents, they were always outdoors. They all adapted the country life and looked healthy and happy. So happy and careless that they never worried about the news of the escape two weeks ago.

   The most dreadful day of their lives started as usual. The mother was up early to cook breakfast, to wash, dress and feed the children. The father waited till the bathroom was empty and got ready for a new day at the office.
   Like all 5 days of the week, everyone was in a hurry by the time they had to drive to the village and to town. Leaving John at school and taking Susan to Kindergarten was the mother's job; she started an hour later at her office than the father.
   A lot of calling and 'hurry up's', running up and down the stairs for forgotten dolls, handbags and clothes. A normal tumultuous young household which all parents will recognize. Therefore non of the members of this happy family saw the man running through the woods and the garden, hiding behind every tree before he moved on. A man who wasn't from this neighbourhood and who did not want to be seen...

   Hiding in the closet under the slope attic, the parents did their very best to keep the children as quiet as possible. Fortunately they were tired after their playful day at school but soon, the parents knew from experience, they were hungry and asking for food. How on earth could they keep them quiet?
It would not take long before this so called Hide and Seek game was getting boring for them. But for now they leaned in the arms of their parents and tried hard to play the game the best they could.
   Above their heads, the parents looked each other in the eyes, just visible by the little light that shone through the small hole in the wall, and saw pure anxiety; they feared for the lives of their children and their own.
The father took the hand of his wife, very carefully not to alarm the man in the house. He noticed that her hand also shook and her fingers were cold as ice.
She squeezed his' softly to encourage him but both knew that courage was not their strongest emotion right now.

   It was amazing how their eyes got used to the little light and how well they could hear in the darkness. All their senses were sharpened. The stillness in the house was louder than their own heartbeat or the breathing of the children.
They knew he was there, the occasional shuffle they heard, told them he was still downstairs and they prayed he did not go upstairs but left the house instead.
   Suddenly there was a loud bang and all four of them were instantly very alert. John whispered: “Are they going to find us Mummy?” but Mummy pressed her fingers against his lips and said: “ssshhhh”. John obeyed.

   The silence after the loud bang was even worse than before; it told the parents he was indeed still in the house. And their car was parked in the driveway so they did not have the illusion the man thought there was nobody at home.
They wished they had gone outside instead of sneaking upstairs. But it was the fear of being seen by the man who stood there, staring at the house.
And for the very first time since they moved here, they wished they had locked the doors behind them.
   It took a while before they heard a soft shuffle and the recognisable noise of the door to the hall; they never came round to oil the hinges. Half way the noise stopped as if the man listened for a reaction somewhere from the house. Then the door was pushed open and footsteps moved to the kitchen.

   Holding their breath they hoped the man was going to leave the house through the kitchen door and they almost forgot to breath to listen his footsteps. But again there was only silence. A cold threatening silence that slowly walked down their spine and back to nest in their brains. To take over every other emotion and only leaving pure anxiety.
   They did not know that the fear tightened their muscles until Susan moved in her mothers arms, complaining that Mummy hurt her. And then that she was hungry and when the game ended. And who was the person in the house searching for them?
   The mother whispered it was someone with very good ears who loved games so they needed to be extremely quiet! John still thought it was exiting and smiled with his eyes wide open which. But in the spares light from the hole his eyes looked very big and scary. She only saw what could happen if the man found them in their hiding place. If he only left the house but he knew, she felt that so clearly, that there was a family and that he could smell their fear. She new by instinct that he was going to wait as long as needed. At the moment John said he needed to go to the loo they heard the sound of the tap; the man filled the water kettle. Never had they thought that this so familiar and homely sound was so extremely frightening!
   The parents looked at each other, knowing an escape was impossible; the man made himself at home. Where they were so very afraid, he sat there smiling with a cup of tea. Waiting.... as a lion for his prey........

Photo: @wpunkt_epunkt (Instagram)
   When you ever visit their house in the middle of no where, you will see that the once so white facade is now green and grimy. The driveway is overgrown with shrubs and the tracks of many police cars are buried under thick layers of brown leaves as if the trees wanted to cover the gruesome things that happened here years before.

   The black door is wide open and the wind and rain turned the hallway into a muddy place. There are no witnesses any more. No footsteps of the family that lived here, nor those of the serial killer. They and the car have never been seen again.

   Only the hasty left personal belongings like an open bag, a torn apart doll, shoes and a coat, might give a clue to what happened and why the house became unsellable. Why nobody wants to live amongst the horror of the past.

Word of thanks: the photo of @wpunkt_epunkt (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you Walburga!

Links: please visit the Instagram account of @wpunt_epunkt to view the beautiful photo's!

Note: the story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination!


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