By Barbara Ann Derksen
She watched as the man, the monster, moved toward the entrance. Then he stopped. He looked up the stairs, then down the hall. He looked toward her hiding place, his eyes cold, calculating, wondering. Her stomach lurched, the fright almost real enough to touch. Could he see her? Her daddy had told her to hide here. He knew they were in danger. Why? Who was this man? How did daddy know him? Maybe it was mommy the man hated. Why? Footsteps interrupted her questions. The man was moving down the hall straight toward her.
She crept backwards, crawling on all fours as if she were a spider. Her gymnastics teacher had taught her that. I need to get out of here. He will kill me, too. She remembered her discovery when she’d hidden in here last week. Her cousins had come for a visit. They loved to play hide and seek in the large, multistoried mansion that was her home. She’d found a door leading to the garage where her daddy’s cars were kept under the chauffeur’s apartment. She’d sneak out that way.
Several hanging tools brushed her shoulders as she crept under them toward safety. They swung to and fro. It was as if they whispered, “She’s in here.” She twisted her head behind. She couldn’t see through the slats in the door anymore but the heavy tread of footsteps grew louder, closer. She reached the hidden door. It creaked as she slipped through.
“Wait.” His voice echoed through the tiny room, resonating off the walls of the small space, the sound carried over the creak of the door as he pulled it open. The menace in his voice was gone, replaced by enticement.
She scurried into the large garage. Ignoring the man, she skirted the three cars stored there. Her heart pumped so loudly in her ears, the sound blocked out the rustle of the man’s clothes as he squeezed through the same opening. She turned slightly and saw his shadow. Her short legs pumped toward the door leading to the stone walled courtyard and the gated entrance to the back yard. The wrought iron gate was open. Good.
Her feet flew over the paved driveway toward the gate. She turned once to see if the chauffeur was nearby. Benson played with her sometimes. He was nowhere to be seen. Then she remembered. Benson had asked for the day off to take Maria, the maid, to the beach. There’s no one to help. She streaked through the wrought iron gate.
The yard was tree filled, almost like a park. She ran like the wind, as if the devil himself was after her. He is. She reached the second gate in the high wrought iron fence that surrounded her parent’s property. It was slightly ajar. Her parent’s always kept this one locked but now… She almost forgot to breathe as she raced through it and into the street. The sidewalk led to town. Her legs pounded the pavement hard. “Wait.” The shout came from behind her. The man was following.
The sound of his footsteps bounced off cement walls and rock enclosures, the attempt of homeowners to protect what was theirs. Trees, thick for privacy, lined the street, hiding nearby houses from view. Traffic was non-existent along this street at this time of day. She ran. Her instincts told her that life, her life, depended on it. She rounded a corner but then peeked back. He was still coming, walking briskly in her direction. I need to hide.
She crawled under a nearby bush, its dense foliage the perfect cover, she thought. The picture of her mother’s head scattering debris all over the walls played like a ticker tape through her brain. Her stomach roiled again and she gagged. Mommy. Daddy. Please help me. Footsteps rounded the corner. The sound grew louder. He’ll find me. I have to leave.
She stood. He reached for her with one hand while the other, the one that had held the gun, was in his pocket. She ducked just out of his reach. She raced like the wind, staying off the sidewalk this time. She flew through the trees as if someone carried her, her feet barely touching the ground long enough to make an indent in the leaves. Her body slammed into low branches that scratched and tore at her clothing. She was shorter than the man so movement for her was easier here, she reasoned. The heavier footsteps had slowed, proving her right. She heard a twig snap. He was still coming. Maybe a policeman…
This excerpt is from the prologue of Barbara Ann Derksen’s book, Shadow Stalker. To connect with Barbara Ann Derksen follow any of the links below!
Thank you, Barbara, for your contribution! Your book, Shadow Stalker, is very interesting!