THE BREAK IN - COL BURY
Also appearing at Thriller, Killers 'n' Chillers
'There's somebody in the house,' Louise whispered, nudging her snoring husband with her elbow. Malcolm stirred and pulled the duvet, leaving Louise naked and vulnerable. The sound of glass smashing made her heart flicker.
'Malc! Wake up!' She shook him this time.
'What the...? What's up, honey?'
'Did you hear that?'
Malcolm reluctantly sat upright, rubbing his eyes. 'Hear what?'
'Someone's breaking in.'
Footsteps. Voices. Louise grabbed Malcolm's arm tightly.
'Where's your mobile?'
He searched blindly in the dark on the bedside table. 'Shit, it's not there. I'm sure I brought it up.'
More low voices echoed through the house and the sound of drawers being slammed.
'Malc, what are we gonna do?' There was panic in her voice.
'Dunno. I'm thinking.'
'Should I shout out of the window?' she said, carefully turning on the bedside lamp, which offered a microcosm of solace, until she saw the fear in Malcolm's eyes.
'No. They might come upstairs. Shit, what if they've got weapons? Think, think, think!' he said, tapping his temples. He climbed out of bed and began pacing the room, then quickly pulled on a pair of tracksuit bottoms and trainers. 'Where's that fuckin phone?' he asked, searching desperately, the dressing table, under the bed - but nothing.
'What about if you shout downstairs that the police are on the way?'
He stopped to look at her. 'I could do, but I don't know whether that'd work. How's about I tell them I've gotta gun?'
'But what if they have a gun? Saying that might make them use it.'
The voices grew louder, closer, at the bottom of the stairs.
His voice was hushed and shaky. 'Maybe if we just leave it, they'll go away.'
'Yeah, and then at least we'll be safe.'
When they both clearly heard, 'Let's try upstairs,' their eyes widened in unison.
'Oh, shit.' Malcolm frantically scanned the room and fixed on his snooker cue in the corner. He gingerly made his way to the cue. There were footsteps on the stairs as he unscrewed the butt of the cue and held it up as a makeshift cosh. Edging closer to the bedroom door, he waited, his eyes manic with adrenaline.
The door creaked in the next bedroom, the shuffling of feet.
Louise gave him a brief hug and a peck on the cheek before retreating to the far side of the bedroom.
'Louise. I love you,' he said, his mouth dry with anticipation, his gaze fixed on the door, the cosh aloft. The door burst open and a man in a black balaclava rushed in. Louise screamed.
Malcolm swung the cue butt and impacted firmly on the man's head with a sickening thud. The man dropped to the floor, a kitchen knife clattering across the laminate flooring.
A second male in a face mask appeared brandishing a screwdriver. He lunged at Malcolm's midriff, banging him into the wardrobe. Louise cowered in the corner. The butt clunked onto the floor and the man stabbed Malcolm's stomach repeatedly with the screwdriver. Malcolm yelped with each thrust until he collapsed onto the bed.
Louise was sitting knees up, frozen, peeping through her fingers.
With blood oozing from the puncture wounds, Malcolm shrieked in pain, yet still managed to reach down and clasp onto the butt. He promptly struck the man on the forehead. The masked man gasped and backed off holding his head, only for the first male in the balaclava to spring back to life holding the kitchen knife.
'Fuckin' come on, then, tough guy!' he shouted as he dived on top of Malcolm.
They grappled on the bed, blood smearing everywhere. Malcolm rolled the burglar beneath him and clutched onto the knife's handle, but was then rolled back onto his side as his strength began to wane.
While their bodies entwined, Louise heard the slushy tear of flesh, followed by a low groan. She was engulfed with sheer terror. Both bodies lay still.
'Oh my God..no. Pleeease!' Tentatively, she stood up and took a closer look. The other intruder eyed her from the doorway, rubbing his head. Malcolm's body rolled to the side and the man in the balaclava sat up holding the bloody knife.
'Thank God for that,' said Louise as she lifted the balaclava and kissed her lover while Malcolm lay dead on the bed.
'Come on, Johnny, let's do one,' said the accomplice from the door.
'I'll meet you at the cottage at the weekend as agreed, Lou,' Johnny said breathlessly. 'And you were right; he was a game fucker.'
BIO: Col Bury lives in Manchester, UK, with his wife and two children. He iscurrently writing a crime novel and is the co-editor - along with thriller author and ex-cop, Matt Hilton - of a 'site encouraging new writers to showcase their talent: Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers, where more of Col's stories reside.
The Irish Times’ Crime Fiction ‘Best Of’ 2018
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