BG 168 – The shriek

A chilling shriek cut through the cold foggy night.
She was startled. What was that? A woman? She muted the TV, held her breath, and listened.
She heard nothing at first, but just when she had to breathe again, the muffled sound of running shoes echoed down the deserted street, followed by a charged silence.

What was she supposed to do? Go out to help?
Did someone really need help, or had she just imagined that cry of terror?
She turned off the lights in her living room and studio. Now only a faint strip of light from a street lamp shone in, where one of the shutters no longer closed properly. She walked over, bent down and peered out through the opening.

At first glance there was nothing to see.
Again she held her breath to listen carefully.
For a moment she thought she heard another scream, but it turned out to be the sound of an owl in the poplar behind the house.
She scanned the front yards across the street, the empty street, the strip of grass with young oaks and driveways on this side, the sidewalk.
Wait, she saw something! There was something on the sidewalk in front of her house. It hadn’t been there when she had closed the shutters earlier in the evening.
Was it…, was it a human?

She decided to go and have a look.
Quickly she put on her shoes and coat, she left the house through the back door and carefully walked through the cold mist in the dim light.
Wow! Out! The lights went out just as she reached the front of her house!
Ah yes of course, the streetlights always went out at this time. Usually she wouldn’t notice because she would have already gone to bed, in her bedroom at the back of the house.
She listened tensely, her eyes slowly adjusting to the dim light of the stars.

Moaning! Human moaning!
There was no longer any doubt, someone in need was laying there.
She wanted to quickly take the last few steps that separated her from the figure, but her legs wouldn’t move. Something, a signal from the primitive part of her brain, stopped her.
She had to make it clear that she was standing here, that help was on the way.
She cleared her throat. When there was no response, she coughed.
The figure moved a little and moaned again.

Why was she still standing here hesitating? They needed her help!
She took the last steps and bent over the person in the thick black winter coat. ‘Are you okay?’ she asked worriedly.
No, of course she was not okay. No one would lie on the sidewalk in the damp cold at night for fun, duh.
The woman, she now saw that it was an older woman, lifted her head with difficulty towards her and moaned unintelligibly.
‘What did you say? Don’t worry, I’m here, I’ll help you.’
As she dropped to her knees and moved even closer to the victim, they suddenly clamped two hands around her right wrist with astonishing force. “Now!” the woman cried in a loud voice.

The footsteps she had heard before came running their way again. And before she could react, two strong hands closed around her throat.
After a short struggle, she lost consciousness.

Since then, an older woman and a younger man have lived in her house. They use her car, her bed, her computer and her bank account. And nobody seems to care.