Last night….last night was….dark.
Darker than any night I’ve had before.
We’re in this together now.
Please….try to understand.
Around 7:15 last night the glass beside the front door of the house I was staying in smashed and two people walked in. I quietly shut the screen of my laptop slide it silently into my back pack and hid behind the door of the upstairs master bedroom – where I had been updating and watching the street from.
I could hear two sets of heavy boots walking around the main floor of the house. Muffled talking and searching through cabinets were all I could hear as I held my breath behind the door.
I was already wearing everything I needed to leave so all I needed was to get out of the house. I quickly did a mental breakdown of every way in and out of the house and thought the best way out may be the window facing the backyard, a short fall and I would avoid having to go downstairs.
Then I heard the footsteps coming up stairs.
It was only one set but still I slid the pike hammer out of the back pack and up my sleeve.
Slowly the footsteps ascended the stair case until they touched the hard wood of my floor. A cold sweat broke over me and I held my breath. The room I was in was maybe 4 feet from the top of the stairs and the first room on the “tour” of the top floor.
The person stopped on the top of the stairs.
I could hear the other person searching through kitchen cabinets downstairs still.
The footsteps began walking towards my room.
My heart pounded within my chest so loud I was afraid it would give away my position, and then the person entered the room.
It was dark now and from my position I could see the back of the door into the room – which remained open with me fully hidden behind it – but if I leaned out slightly I could see the large window overlooking the street and the master bed between the window and myself.
A large man entered the room and began searching the dresser under the window.
I could see him, bathed in light from the streetlights outside, he wore a puffy blue jacket stained with what looked like water – but it could have been blood or black blood for all I knew. He looked disheveled, violent, but I was keen to leave him be. He finished his search of the drawers (which I left mainly empty) turned around and began walking out of the room.
Until he stopped.
Inches from my face with only the bedroom door between us I heard him turn around and walk back into the room, he slowly walked over to the bed and stopped. I dared not stick my head out from behind the door but I was too afraid to be unprepared should he shoot me. So I ever so slightly tilted my right eye out.
I saw him standing next to the bed I had slept in the night before his right hand pressed against the still wet blood I left upon the bed spread the night before. The colour drained from my face. I lifted his fingers, now wet with my blood, to his face and with his left hand he upholstered his pistol.
This man was about to kill me. The only advantage I had was that I knew where he was and he didn’t know where I was.
I’m forever sorry for what happened next.
The man smiled in the streetlight, a smile I took for a sickly desire to serve my head on a platter to his buddy downstairs and in my mind this man was the epitome of evil, a disgusting monster bent on purging the world of goodness, and with that in my mind what I did next was all too easy.
When he turned to go out the door he left with vigor for hunting me down, his eyes looking forward, never to the room he already “cleared.” He stepped out into the hall and I silently walked out with him, the racket from the downstairs search making enough noise to silence my steps.
He passed the top of the stairs and continued towards the front of the house – I had my escape….but I didn’t take it. Instead I followed the man into the front room and drove the claw pike into the back of his head.
He dropped loudly, a sputtering sound came from his mouth as blood pooled on the carpet which soaked it up greedily.
I didn’t even notice that I had tears in my eyes.
He was dead. I had no doubts. I quickly checked his pockets and found a gold pocket watch and took the pistol. I then removed the pike wiping the blood off with my free hand.
For that moment I had still convinced myself I had done the right thing….until those words.
Those words that will forever haunt my life.
Forever embedded my memory.
The weak, fragile, almost hushed voice that came from downstairs after hearing the thump of the lifeless body before me.
My heart stopped, the shattering of everything I loved echoed through the house. I had to hold my now bloody hand up to my mouse to avoid crying out loud.
I killed a father scrounging for food with his daughter.
I could hear her again, “Daddy? Are you okay?”
I was sitting back sobbing into myself until I heard her move to the stairs. Quickly I stood up and took a final look down at the man I had murdered.
I ran down the hall and opened the back window leaping out into the snowy back yard. I didn’t look back. I ran.
As I turned to the street someone heavy and dark approached me.
Through teary eyes I turned my gaze away but then he started running towards me. Our eyes locked, the flicker of red behind the eyes, the dead gaze….
He was one of them.
I’m not going to glorify it – but I ended his life. There were worms again, I was careful to stay away. It was at this time I realized that these last few days were not just on me. Abandoned cars open front doors, bodies in the street. Whatever was going on wasn’t the end of the world but it was happening in our town. Fuck who know, maybe it was the end.
I started walking away. Towards Holly’s dad’s house….
I stopped dead in my tracks.
My wife and the possibility of finding her lay before me…
And yet I turned around.
I walked to the front door of the house I had been staying in and knocked loudly.
I called out hello and heard nothing. I stood silently waiting and eventually made out a soft whimpering from upstairs.
I walked up to find a young girl of maybe 12 crying over the body of her father, the man I killed maybe 10 minutes ago.
“Hey” I said weakly.
She didn’t answer. I waited a long beat.
“My name is Harlan,”
She turned around to me, afraid of me at first. I crouched down – still far enough away to not seem intimidating – and removed my toque.
“….I can’t imagine what you’re going through…” I said
I swallowed hard at my own horrible act.
“…but it’s not safe here…”
She turned to me crying.
“This was my daddy.” She said
I faked surprise and showed my legitimate sadness.
“I am so sorry.” I sat down in the hall.
There was a long silence, maybe half an hour passed. Every time she looked back down at his body she began weeping again, but eventually she looked at me, stood up and walked over.
“Where are you going?”
“Well…” I took a soft breath and pulled out a photo from my wallet of Holly and handed it to her “I’m going to find my wife.”
She looked at the photo and for a brief second I thought I say her smile but just then a series of gunshots echoed through the streets and she shot a look to me in fear. She started to hand the photo back to me.
“It’s okay.” I said
I stood up as well. She looked back at her dad.
“He had a gun, but whoever killed him took it….”
I was worried momentarily.
“Do you know what type it was? What it looked like?” I asked
“Not really…” she said
“Do you have anything with you?” I asked her, “Food/Water, clothes a back pack?”
“Yes downstairs,” she said
“Okay why don’t you go get that and I’ll be down in a second.”
She looked back at her father’s body.
“The ground is frozen, we can’t bury him.” I said to her mournfully.
“Can you move him into a bed, so he’s not cold?” she asked
She turned away and walked down stairs stopping before the second step from the top, turned to me and said, “My name is Hannah.”
I smiled a painful smile. “Hi Hannah,” she walked downstairs.
I lifted the body onto the bed in the front room and draped a sheet over his body. I stood there for a moment looking into the dead man’s eyes. Silently I cried. I took the pistol out of my back pack and carried it in my left hand. After a moment I stopped crying and called out to Hannah.
“I found your dad’s pistol.”
I’m no hero.