The Trespasser

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

An old man trespasses on someone else's property - but not for the reasons you think.

The Trespasser

 

He stood there, right in front of what once was his own home. His right hand reached for his left ring finger, fumbling at the golden piece of jewelry around it. He felt tiredness in his bones, a cold feeling that cut deeply into his old body. It’s not just the midnight cold, he’s sure.

He visualized what he had to do. He’s done it lots of times before. He won’t fail now. Not this time.

The old man pulled his phone out and, with his thin fingers, pressed the speed dial. It rang once. He started speaking in an old, croaky voice, befitting a man his age: “There will be an armed robbery on 23 Infinity a few minutes past midnight. Track this phone and send the police”.

He hung up, put the phone on the ground, and started walking towards the two-story house. No one else will see the phone except for the police. He should know - he’s already tried it before.

He stopped in front of the door, laying his heavy gym bag on the ground. It made clanking noises as it kissed the earth beside him. He took a deep breath, taking in the cold wind of the night, and pulled out his lock picking kit from the pocket of his coat. His soul trembled but his old, wrinkly hands were steady. He’d done this a lot of times before. It was just a matter of following the plan. Step one.

The old man opened the door with ease, locking it behind him. He didn’t even bother to look around. He didn’t have to; he knew every piece of furniture in there, from the touch of the dark blue couch to the size of the television and the texture of the carpet.

More importantly, he was never caught the previous times he went in.

He placed his gym bag on the couch, walked past the living room as quickly as his tired legs would take him, and went up the stairs, tiptoeing through all of its ten oak steps. The very first door on his left was open, and he went inside to the sight of the very person he was looking for.

A woman laid on the bed. Moonlight from an open window bathed her, and she looked beautiful in it. Young, radiant, energetic; the inverse of his old, fragile frame. Even when pregnant, she still managed to take his breath away.

He looked around. A blue China vase housed four roses on top of her bedside drawer. The television buzzed with the late night news. She cleared the curtains from the window, just as she did every single night. She liked the cool air, she always liked to say.

He thought about waking her up, warning her of the disaster about to happen. But he knew he can’t – shouldn’t - she’ll die a quicker death if she’s awake.

He should know; he’s tried it before.

The old man could have just stood there and watched her sleep, compensating for all the time he wasn’t able to. But he knew that wasn’t possible. He’s got a job to do.

He pulled out a gun from one of his coat’s pockets. Seven bullets in its magazine.

He looked at the gun long and hard, wishing – no, willing – that it would be able to save her this time. He’d never really succeeded, but he thought that maybe this time, if he prayed long enough, he actually would.

The old man walked closer to her.

He looked down at the gun, put down its safety, and laid it down on top of her bedside drawer, beside the vase and a gold ring similar to the one he wore. He turned the TV off. Step two.

He went back to the living room, where he left his gym bag. Opening it, he pulled out one of the bear traps inside and placed it near the sofa. It was particularly noisy setting up the traps, but he knew the woman upstairs was a heavy sleeper; no amount of noise could have woken her up. He put one on the middle of the living room, another one near the base of the stairs. The darkness of the night hid the traps well as he expected. Step three.

The old man pulled out a gun he put on his gym bag. After making sure it’s loaded, he went to the kitchen, ducked on one of the corners, and waited in silence.

He looked around in the dim lighting from the night. Memories flooded him. Dancing during midnight illuminated by the refrigerator light. Meals with family and friends. Fights they had about things small and big, all of which he couldn’t even remember. He wanted to go back to all of those things again. To feel again. To go back over and over and over and repeat all the things that were stolen from him.

He played with the ring on his finger. That’s wasn’t the case now. He knew what was going to happen. He was here to stop it. Step four.

In a few minutes, he heard it: a shuffling of feet from right outside the front door. The doorknob rattled for a few seconds, but stopped abruptly. He heard the shuffling again, this time moving from the front of the house to the side – the burglar looking for an easy way in. He stopped right there in front of the closed kitchen window, his outline visible from the inside. The old man thought about shooting him right there and then, but remembered that it didn’t work the last time.

The burglar stooped down, and for a moment he was invisible again from the old man. But when his outline came back, it wasn’t just him – he picked up a ladder from the ground, and propped it up against the side of the house. He started climbing, the ladder making dull metallic noises as he went. It took a while for the old man to realize what was happening: the burglar spotted the open window on the bedroom, right where the woman slept.

But that was different. That hadn’t happened before.

He hadn’t even finished that thought yet when he started running, gun gripped tight. He jumped over his own bear trap, leaped over the steps on the stairs, and turned to enter the bedroom.

He was too late.

The woman had already woken, eyes wide open in terror and confusion. She casted a fleeting glance at the old stranger who just entered the room and back at the gun barrel staring her right at the face. Except for his young, angry eyes a bonnet covered the whole burglar’s face, but it failed to hide his surprise when he saw the old man standing on the doorway, gun trained in his head. His aim turned to him, returning the favor.

The old man didn’t want to risk anything now – he knew full well how trigger-happy the thief can be. They looked at each other’s eyes, both of them halfway hoping that staring at the other hard enough would make him disappear.

But the old man gave way, raising his hands and slowly stooping down to put his gun on the floor. He didn’t want to take the chance; besides, his hands trembled so much it would be impossible to get off a decent shot. His only mission was to get the woman and himself out alive, and he doesn’t need a gun to do that. Relief flooded the burglar’s eyes.

But then he saw it: with one swift motion the woman, ever so brave and courageous, snatched the gun on her bedside and aimed it at the masked man. A gunshot went off. The China shattered as it hit the floor, water spilling everywhere. Four roses laid on the wet carpet.

The shot was clean, clearly visible on the moon’s light. The bullet hit her square on the temple. Blood flooded her white sheets. The thief turned his aim to the old man.

He tried to reach for his gun on the floor, but another shot came off, and then another one. He felt warm blood escaping his chest. His knees buckled, and he fell down on the floor.

I failedI failed. But I’ll try again.

Just as he started hearing dull siren sounds from afar, his consciousness faded and everything turned black.

 

 

The old man woke up with a splitting headache. The door to the pod-like machine opened, and he barely managed get out before spewing some light-green vomit. His saliva tasted like metal, and he was pretty sure his urine will come out brown when he urinates. The radiation’s taking its toll on him, but he didn’t spend the last 30 years developing this machine for some little particles to bring him down. He’ll sleep for a while, then try again later.

He flopped his tired, old body into his bed. With a groan, he reached for a worn out notebook on the top of his bedside table, its folds and pages very familiar to his wrinkled hands. It was an antique in the modern world he lives in but isn’t part of. He opened it, plucked the pen stuck on the spring on the side, and started writing:

Attempt # 89: Call the police early. Put a gun at her bedside table. Set traps on the living room. Hide inside the house to surprise the burglar.

Result: Failed.

Action: Close the second floor window next time. Also, make a better fucking time machine.

He thought of other things. He thought about ambushing the burglar before he even entered the house, but immediately remembered that it didn’t work. Old age had made him slow; too slow, in fact, to surprise the thief. He should know – he tried doing that twice; twice he got shot in the head.

He had other ideas, and some half-baked ones. Everything he wrote on the notebook. Not that any of them would work, he thought.

The old man plopped the notebook back from where he picked it up. He looked at the video frame beside it. It showed a much younger him, along with the woman who got shot just a few moments earlier. They stood facing each other under the arches of a church. Despite the decline in his memory he remembered that scene very well; he married the most beautiful, caring, and courageous woman in the world, after all. He reached for the frame and clasped it tightly on his chest.

His whole body ached. He felt his organs slowly deteriorating. He needed rest, but instead of sleeping, he let his mind drift 30 years back to when he was younger, when he and his wife were happily together. Some insignificant burglar killed her and the baby she carried, but soon enough that wouldn’t have to matter.

He’ll keep coming back to that night, he thought, no matter how many times it took him. He’ll get his wife and child back.


Submitted: January 10, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Christian Jerome. All rights reserved.

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Comments

hullabaloo22

A story that gripped the reader from beginning to end. You did a great job with the descriptions in bringing that man to life.

Sun, January 10th, 2021 7:26pm

Author
Reply

Thanks for the feedback! Glad you liked it.

Mon, January 11th, 2021 6:18pm

AdamCarlton

This is a good story, holds interest from beginning to end. I think it could be improved tho' it's hard to put my finger on how. It just reads a little hurried and jerky. Somehow the reader needs a chance to relax into a slower and slightly more immersive story-development.

Tue, January 26th, 2021 3:56pm

Author
Reply

Thanks for the feedback! Will try to incorporate your suggestion to my future writing. Cheers!

Tue, January 26th, 2021 8:51pm

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