The full moon always made her anxious. As she stepped out of her car onto her winding sidewalk, she again wondered why she thought it was a good idea to obscure her front door with these shrubs. The landscaper had been certain she'd love the privacy. She didn't. She was never comfortable coming home after dark and with that full moon, her legs were just slightly unstable. Her eyes darted left and right and she walked with determination to that yet unseen entrance. Key in hand, she extended her right arm as she approached the small raised landing directly under the door in preparation for scurrying in and locking the door behind her.
Her hand never touched the door knob. Something grasped her wrist at the exact moment she tried to slip the key into the lock. Her breath stuck in her throat and her eyes flew wide open and though she thought she was screaming, it was only in her head. Searching the semi-darkness for a face, her heart had stopped, surely it had. Her lungs were just about to explode as the face came into view and his voice broke the silence. The loudest silence she had ever experienced. He was just off to the side of the door and spoke in a low and soft tone.
"Relax. I'm not going to hurt you. I just need to go inside with you. Open the door or hand me the key. Come on! We need to go in!" The voice was quiet, but urgent and edgy. She didn't know it's owner, of that she was certain. She handed him the key without speaking a word. What in the world did this man want? Why was he here? Why? She felt herself exhale and walk forward through the now opened door.
They entered the house where one light was lit. She always left it on and the porch light, as well. Since the landscaping job, the porch light was not enough. The door itself was lit, but the walkway remained too dark.
"I need your phone." He demanded, very quietly.
"My phone? For what?" She was really confused. He didn't feel threatening; he didn't appear to be armed in any way, although much larger and stronger than she, he wasn't imposing at all. She felt her initial fear beginning to wane.
"Because I need it!" His tone changed and caused her to quickly hand over the phone.
He scrolled through her contacts and pushed a button or two, she couldn't tell. Then he began to text. He was no longer looking at her. He was full face into the phone. She backed herself away from him. He appeared to be lost in the texting process. She made a quick dash to the back door and slid the lock open and ran with all she had across the backyard in the darkness and made a sharp right turn to the empty lot next door. She ran behind an old oak tree and stood very still.
He wasn't coming. Was he?
The full moon was the only light. She stood totally still, listening and trying to adjust to the light or lack of, she waited for any inkling that he was approaching or searching for her. It was completely quiet and after several minutes she felt able to slip out from her hiding spot and move away from her home. Away from him. If he was still in her house, she didn't want to be anywhere near it.
The Storm's house had lights on and she started quietly and quickly to move in that direction looking over her shoulder the entire way, nothing to see or hear. They were her closest neighbors and friends.
Once at the door, she knocked and announced her name.
"It's Kaelee, I need to call the police, please let me in?" Her voice was very loud and she feared her intruder would hear her and her neighbor would not. She tried the knob. It was not locked. She opened the door slightly, looking in as she entered slowly talking the entire time. "Jerry? Janet? I need to use your phone, someone is in my house! Hello?" She had locked their door the second she was in.
She grabbed their phone and dialed 911.
"911, what is your emergency?" The line went dead. A shot rang out. Kaelee fell to the floor and crawled to the other side of the wall. Hidden from the front window which was now crashing in a million pieces all over the living room floor. The shot had come straight through the center of the large window.
She crawled to the basement doorway and ran down the stairs to the storm shelter she knew existed in the southwest corner. The door was camouflaged with decor imitating a large book shelf. The "book shelf" was a sliding door and when closed very difficult to detect. She hoped it locked, she didn't know.
Grabbing the edge she pushed it left and slid herself into the hidden room. For the first time, she could feel her heart racing and hear herself breathe. Panic began to set in. She would not be able to see or hear anything from inside, but she would be safe. She turned to find the light switch which she thought she remembered being on the right side of the door. Feeling the wall she located it and immediately wondered if she should or shouldn't turn it on. Why was she hesitant? There were no windows, no way for the light to show through the sliding door. What was her hesitation about?
"Don't! Kaelee! Just come forward about 4 steps." The whispering voice directed her.
"Janet? Is that you? What is going on? Where is Jerry?" Kaelee did as Janet had instructed. They couldn't really see each other, but held hands.
"I don't know if this room is really sound proof or not, so whisper. There is a signal light upstairs if this light is turned on, remember? It's in case we are locked in here and someone needs us or needs to get in. I told you in case you ever needed it, remember?"
"Yes, yes, I do. Where ..."
"I don't know where he is. He was in the kitchen and then he wasn't. I don't know." She put her face in her hands and sobbed. "He might have gone out the door, I hope. Someone knocked on the door and Jerry went to answer it. I was in the bedroom. I heard some muffled voices and I heard Jerry open the refrigerator and then I heard a really loud thud. I don't know what it was. It might have been someone dropping something or someone being hit with something. I just ran down the stairs in the closet of our room and have been here since. I wish we had put that lock on that slider last summer. I so want that door to be locked now. I thought I was going to die when you came through it. Then I smelled your cologne. Thank God you were wearing it. i might have screamed otherwise. That's all I know."
"You don't have your cell?"
"No, he took it. There was a guy waiting on my porch and he took it and I ran out the back while he was texting someone. What the hell ...?"
"This makes no sense to me. I just don't know. We are stuck here for tonight though. We can't take a chance on opening the door or going up the stairs. We can't tell if they are here or gone and the nearest phone is 5 feet outside that slider and dead, anyway. "
The girls huddled in the deepest corner of the room under the stairs from the closet. They were undetectable unless someone literally crawled under these same steps with a flashlight. Praying and holding each other's hand, they got as comfortable as possible to endure a night of terror. Who? What? Why? No answers.
At some point they drifted off into a light sleep leaning on each other with heads touching.
A pounding above them awakened them suddenly. It sounded as if someone was stomping on the closet floor. Could they see the seams in the stair cover? It was cut perfectly into the hard wood and should be very hard to detect, but why else? They clung tightly to each other, silently.
Glancing at her watch, barely able to see it, though it had a slight illumination to it, Janet saw it was 5:30 a.m. What to do? The last time she had looked at it, it was 3:35.
"Who do you think that is? Do you think it could be the police?" Janet so hoped it was, but how would they know?
"I dialed 911, before the line went dead, I made a connection. They have the address. Oh, I don't know what to do! I have never been so afraid in my life. I'm so glad I found you." The tears were falling on both faces and the whispers were barely audible to each other. Deep, to the bone fear had taken them both hostage.
Without any warning the slider flew open. Completely open and flooding the room with light. They stayed perfectly still and hidden. They could not see anyone. Then suddenly and very loudly,
"Janet? Kaelee? Are you here?"
They both jumped at the sound of Jerry's voice and they crawled from their corner. Janet pulled herself up and then extended her hand to Kaelee and both ran to Jerry full force. He nearly fell over when they reached him. Steadying himself, he saw both girls were fine and other than obvious stress and a lot of tears, all was well here.
It would be a couple of hours before the whole story was known. The intruder was a lone man looking for Kaelee. He had come to the Storm's house by mistake and Jerry had feared for both his and Janet's safety because the intruder had pushed his way into the house. At the first chance Jerry had run out of the house to get this man away from Janet and he knew she would head to the shelter at the first sign of danger. The man had followed Jerry for nearly 15 minutes until he finally lost him. Jerry had walked to the nearest gas station to call police. His cell phone was on the charger in the kitchen. The police had been on the way when Kaelee's call came through to 911. Extra cars were then sent to cover the area. It was feared that Janet had been making the call and was now nowhere to be found. Jerry was not allowed back to the house for fear the intruder was hiding and they didn't want him in the way. He had given direction to the shelter, but the police had not been able to find it. They finally searched the entire house and then brought him out to assist.
The intruder was caught at Kaelee's house. Apparently he returned there after chasing Jerry because her address was in Jerry's phone. He then pretended to be the owner when the police knocked on the door and asked if he had seen anyone. He had not. Another neighbor expressed concern for the gal who lived alone across from her and the police were immediately alerted to the gentlemen NOT being the resident. He was taken into custody and found to be carrying a pistol which was the same caliber as the spent shells on the Storm's sidewalk. The bullet had not been removed from the living room wall, yet, but it would also match when retrieved.
Turns out his sole purpose was to get Kaelee's phone and contact info on a co-worker of Kaelee's. She happened to be his ex-wife and he had a score to settle with her. He had been calling her all night and threatening her. Kaelee, Janet and Jerry were nothing to him. The shot was just out of anger and not meant to kill her, just meant to keep her away from the house so he could stay there. He was arrested for breaking and entering, kidnapping, firing a gun in a residential area and a host of other charges.
As for Kaelee, she called the landscaper as soon as she finished with the police and ordered him to open up the front of her house and make sure the walkway was well lit from car to door and no hiding places. She had all her locks changed and then spent 2 days at her sister's house just for safety sake.
The full moon always made her anxious.
"The full moon always made her anxious." (Angela Parson Myers, "When the Moon Is Gibbous and Waxing").