They both jumped up from the table. Janet ran into the nursery and Derek grabbed his gun and ran to the front door. He was able to see through the peep hole that someone had broken Janet’s car window.
Derek made sure the door was locked and entered the security code into the panel next to the door to set the alarm. As he made his way to the nursery, he turned off the lights.
He knew it was Joseph and they were out of time to make a plan. The best he could do was use the lights to draw Joseph’s attention to the wrong room while he got Janet and the baby to the other side of the house through the dark.
He entered the nursery and started to whisper the plan to Janet but she wasn’t there. He looked around and checked the crib to find that the baby was also missing.
His mind reeled with different scenarios. Had Joseph already been in the house? Did he have someone outside to break the car window as a distraction while he grabbed Janet and the baby?
He shook his head to clear it. He scanned the room again and his eyes locked on the closet door. Maybe they were hiding in there.
Derek silently crept over to the closet and opened the door. He was whispering Janet’s name so that she would know it was him and not scream or lash out. But they weren’t there either. Where the hell had she gone so fast?
He tried to think clearly through panic and adrenaline. Since he wasn’t sure if Joseph had come alone or if he may already be in the house, he had to use extra caution while making his way through the house. He would now have to check around every corner and stay away from windows, all while searching for Janet and the baby.
He would start across the hall in his bedroom. It was the closest room but he really hoped she hadn’t gone in there. If a jealous husband was searching for his wife in another man’s house, the bedroom would be where he looked first.
He made his way carefully across the hall after a quick peek in each direction. It was dark in his room and he hoped if he ran into someone, it was Janet. He was debating on whether or not he should say something to get her attention when he heard the back door close quietly. Why didn’t the alarm sound?
Janet knew the code since he had never bothered to change it but why would she go outside? Unless Joseph had been inside and forced her to sneak around Derek to leave…
He would have to check it out on his way back through the house but he needed to be sure they weren’t hiding in here first.
He crept over to his closet and slowly opened the door. Nothing. Why hadn’t she stayed in the nursery where she knew he would find her? She must have had a reason to go sneaking around on her own, knowing that he would be creeping around the house with a gun. Never mind that her husband was also creeping around here somewhere bent on revenge.
There was only one more place on this side of the house to check and it was the bathroom. He didn’t think she would hide in there but he’d have to check anyway before moving on.
While he was making his way to the bathroom door, he recalled a conversation he and Janet had years ago, before everything went to shit.
It was the night he was called to his first murder scene. He had just become a homicide detective shortly before the call and this was the case they decided to cut his strings for. He wished they hadn’t.
He had arrived at a nice home in a suburban area around one in the morning. The perimeter had been taped off and flashing lights were reflecting off of everything. He had walked in the house and been directed to the bathroom. He will never forget that scene as long as he lives.
The first thing he had seen was red. Blood covered the entirety of the small room. The second thing he noticed was his own hazy red reflection in the mirror. Then he saw her in the tub.
She had been young, beautiful and trying to make a new life for herself after escaping an abusive relationship. Unfortunately, her ex had disagreed with her choice to leave. He had watched her for several months; giving her just enough time to feel a sense of routine, security and progress.
She had been trying to climb up and out of a tiny widow over the tub that she knew she would never have fit through; even if she could have climbed enough to be able to reach it.
Derek was forever traumatized by the gruesome scene. Janet had known upon seeing his face that something bad had happened. They had stayed up talking about it and ended up covering safety protocols. They had literally discussed a scenario eerily similar to the one they were currently in.
The memory hit Derek like a train full of light bulbs. They had discussed this; never hide in closets, bathrooms or attics, turn off all house lights except one on the opposite side of the house, try to get to a vehicle. Would she remember all that? Would she try to get to a car knowing Joseph was out there?
He thought she might since he was handling the lights.
He peeked around the door frame to find the bathroom empty. Good, but where are they?
He continued to creep his way down the hall, thinking to make his way back to the guest bedroom, when he heard a deep male voice from the living room.
“You can stop sneaking around now.” The voice said gloatingly. “You can slide that gun over this way too.”
Derek stood his full height and walked the remaining three steps to reach the end of the hall. He was now able to see into the living room on his right and the kitchen to his left.
Joseph was in the living room pointing a gun at him. He motioned with the gun for Derek to move into the kitchen, where Janet was standing with the baby hugged tightly to her chest.
He moved to stand in front of them and gently slid his gun toward Joseph’s feet; just enough so the gun landed between them, but neither man could reach it.
Joseph grinned sideways and chuckled then he looked at Janet. “How did I know I’d find you here?” he sneered as he slowly closed the distance between them.
He held up his hand to signal that it had been a rhetorical question. “It doesn’t matter. I knew and here we are.
Derek was ready to make his move. He was waiting for the second of distraction that picking up the gun from the floor would provide, but it was no good. Joseph never removed his eyes from them and he deliberately pointed his gun at the baby to ensure their cooperation.
“I can tell by your expression that I’ll have to kill you first.” He said to Derek.
“How did you get past the alarm?” Derek asked.
Joseph’s smile was full of pride when he replied, “I was already inside when you set it. Hell, I watched you set the damn thing then turned it off again when you went creeping down the hall.”
So he had already been inside… “Then who broke the car window?” Derek asked, trying to keep him talking while he came up with a plan.
Joseph chuckled. “I did that too. Unlike some of us, I don’t involve others in my personal affairs.” He said as he glowered at Janet.
“Wait,” said Derek. “How did you break the window outside while you were in here watching me set the alarm?”
“It’s not rocket science, cop, but I’ll humor you with an answer since you won’t get a chance to figure it out for yourself. First, I found my way into the house; then I went back and taped a tiny bit of explosive to the window and lit the fuse.”
Derek had drawn him into bragging to buy himself a couple of minutes to think but while Joseph was starting his story, the front door had opened slowly and the robed figure that had run in front of his car before, was now standing in the doorway.
Joseph didn’t notice. “I came inside and watched the two of you talk, then scatter. I watched Janet sneak toward the back door with the baby while you checked the front door and put in the alarm code.”
The robed figure raised its finger to its mouth to indicate that Derek should not alert Joseph to its presence. Derek kept his eyes glued to Joseph as he watched the robed figure with his peripheral vision.
Joseph hadn’t noticed. “I watched you start turning off the lights as you disappeared down the hall. I tisked at her to get her attention and she froze; then we waited for you to come and join us. That is all. No more questions, it’s time to be done with this mess.”
Joseph readied the gun to fire and aimed it at Derek’s head.
“Stop.” The robed figure stated calmly.
Derek stared in disbelief. That ‘stop’ sounded familiar but it couldn’t be…
Derek looked at Joseph, who was completely frozen except for his eyes, which darted wildly trying to figure out what was happening.
“It can’t be.” Derek thought as he looked back at the robed figure again.
Kelly lowered her hood so that Derek could see that it was indeed her. “Turn around.” She instructed Joseph.
He did as she said.
“Now secure your weapon.”
Again, he complied.
“Now, leave and never return or bother them ever again.” She demanded.
Joseph moved stiffly across the room to the front door. Derek, Janet and Kelly waited in silence until they heard a car door slam shut, an engine turn over and a vehicle drive away.
Kelly turned to face Derek who was relieved but in shock. “Have a good life now.” She said to him. Then she turned and walked out the door.
*Thank You for reading!*
End of Story 5-Part 4
Story 6 starts next Saturday!
Copyright©2019 Jennifer Treece