Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The House - A Short Story That Took Me By Surprise

The house we had rented was so sweet, two sets of white French doors, pale paisley furniture and lots of flowers. It felt like home within ten minutes. So much so that we didn't ever want to leave! Our precious daughters, the one who was three years old, and the other six months, seemed to really fit in and played for hours in the garden. My Husband was relaxed for the first time in months.

We had been there for quite some time, a very long extended holiday, the house was surrounded by real African feld – shrubs, grass and red hard, dry, sand risen here and there with ant hills. There was no manicured garden, the feld reached all the way to the French doors.

Our white suburban station-wagon was parked a little way from the house, partially obscured from view by the low lying acacia trees. Behind it was the pile of light brown boxes filled with our belongings. We were starting to pack up.

The house and it's small section of surrounding African bush were, in turn, surrounded by a very high fence, electrified so that nothing wild could get in, and nothing tame could get out. We had heard the grunting roars of the local lions and had often seen a little family of warthog scuttling along the boundary of the property. When a herd of elephant stood precariously near to the fence, we were very grateful for it's ever-clicking sturdy presence. The house, garden and fence were the only structures for many kilometres. The only occupants here were the four of us. No maid. No gardeners. Just us. It was wonderful!

Everything had gone according to plan until this morning, we were standing around the kitchen deciding what to have for breakfast, when a news item caught our attention, the blaring trumpets signalling an important news break made us stop and focus on the blue screen.
"There have been some disturbing developments across the globe. Reports now in, of strange sightings above the cities and suburbs of Gauteng, Durban and Cape Town. Further news to follow" The footage being shown was filmed on shaky cellular phones and depicted strange oval shaped aircraft over the cities. We shivered and checked the calendar – April 9th, definitely not April fools. Switching over to the international news channel we saw similar footage and reports from the USA, Canada and the UK.
"We have had reports of the first attacks…"
"There seems to be no mercy shown…"
"The attacks are being performed by 'civilians'…"
"Attacks and casualties have reached a record high…52 reported deaths and 100 reported missing…since the top of the hour in Glasgow…"

By this stage we started really packing. We were grateful to be in the middle of nowhere. If these 'things' that looked like us were attacking in the cities, then we were in the best possible place. We wanted to be packed and ready for anything.
"From our recent correspondence it seems that these 'beings' are attacking only women and female children…"
Ok, these reports had our full attention. I felt a shiver go down my spine.

"While still alive…horrific…shred…shredde…shredded…"
The female reporter stammered to a halt as we heard in the background the sound of twisting metal. She stood up. Eyes white with terror, ripped her microphone from her lapel, and ran off screen. We heard a terrible shriek followed by another twisting tearing metallic sound; and the screen went to grey fuzz and hiss. We turned to the other stations and watched in horror as each in turn faded to black.

I stood for a while not quite sure what was actually happening, my husband walked over to the radio and turned the dial. The green luminescent light shone. After he spent a good few minutes trying to find one station that was live on air, we listened to the hushed voice of the radio announcer:
"…are no more stations live it seems… I am reporting from my basement. I repeat, from my basement. At my last word from sources there seems to be an unprecedented attack on all females and female children globally. There is NO mercy shown to these individuals….the most horrific murders…brutal. I wish all who are still alive much hope, much speed and mercy. These beings look like every man,or, woman, they appear to be normal until they start to kill. Please. Hide." Click.

My husband sat down on the couch and looked at me in bleak despair.
"What are we going to do? There's nowhere for you and the girls to hide."
I felt the bile rise in my throat as I realised my fate, and the fate of my precious daughters.
"What if they don't come here? We're far from anywhere. Maybe…"
"Still,… it's possible. And I'm not letting them get you. If they take you and the girls they'll have to go through me first."
I ran towards him, and we held each other fast, knowing it might be the last time.

About an hour later I walked across the living room floor; after making sure the girls were sleeping soundly, we'd settled them for their regular nap, not wanting to alarm them. I smiled at my husband and stepped out of the right hand set of French doors. I started towards the car, when I noticed a beautiful African lady walking towards me from around the back bumper of my station-wagon, she was unsmiling. Suddenly at her right was another woman, followed by another. All three were looking straight at me, moving steadily towards the house. I stopped and my blood ran cold. How did they get in here? We hadn't opened the access gate and the fence was of such a high voltage… it was then that I noticed the fence clicking. I called out to them,
"What are you here for huh? What are you here for?!"
They stared at me while their pace never slackened, and the first lady said in a monotone voice echoed by the others,
"We're here to talk to you. Here to talk to you. Talk to you."
There was so much cold, hard threat in their words, that I started to back off towards the house. My legs felt like jelly and I felt frantically behind me for the French doors. I backed into the house as the first lady walked through the other open set of French doors, and we found ourselves all standing in the lounge…too close for comfort.
I turned and raced to my husband who was standing near the door where our children slept soundly. His face was pale as death but set in stone. He was resolute. I ran and stood next to him locking my arms around him. The first lady stepped forward and the others advanced simultaneously, three sets of harsh eyes locked with mine…
Let me know what you think...
Sandy Bigara

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