She had just clicked off the remote and closed her eyes. “Oh no,” she thought. “The house is settling.” She had lived in her red brick home for nearly nineteen years. She had paid a fortune for termite control, bees entering through the bathroom window, wasps on the back porch, and now there was a new noise. Unrecognizable. Could it be footsteps?
Katy was acquainted with most of her neighbors. She had befriended Phil and his wife, a man who fought in Afghanistan. They had spoken with each other while she strode down the streets during what she called “the awful pandemic, which robs us of our minds.”
The man across the street, Blaine, who retired from Lockheed was nice enough, but he and his wife kept to themselves. Their only daughter, Elena, whom they adopted, was married and pregnant, every parent’s dream.
Of course, it was probably her imagination that she heard what sounded like a footstep. Or more like someone scuffling on the carpet. And she watched every scary film on Netflix and Hulu, an addiction she was fond of, eating hot buttered Jiffy popcorn while she watched.
All right, dammit, she would get out of bed. She sat up and pushed off the spring blanket from her bed. A friend of hers from Florida had made it, a colorful patchwork quilt. She fluffed up her short auburn hair, Clairol Nice n Easy, No. 16, and looked around her room.
She pushed up her window and looked outside.
“That’s right,” she thought. “The Big Pink Moon.” How lovely it was hanging in heaven’s corridor, which was possibly the new home of both of her parents. Who knew where the dead went?
Her parents had pulled over to the side of the road. Their Subaru had a flat tire and Dad, a former Marine, whose motto was “I’m tough as nails,” was changing the flat.
“Look, Bett,” he said, holding something up. “A nail.” Sure enough, a long rusty nail had embedded itself in the black tire.
“Oh, dear,” Bett began. That was the last word she ever said and her husband, too.
An out-of-control car hit them on the shoulder.
Shades of Stephen King, who, at least, lived to tell the tale.
Katy walked softly through her carpeted home. Mom had taught her well. Hardwood floors, though beautiful, were cold on wintry mornings. Or, in this case, spring mornings. And, in this case, when an intruder may be hiding.
She saw a shadow on the wall of the den. A female shadow. Katy put her hand on her heart to still its wild beating. She knew the woman. Who was she? Ah, that’s right. Her name was Della. Katy had fired her from the library where Katy was assistant librarian. She had given Della two warnings. The woman was absolutely incorrigible and goofed off in the back room, drinking coffee from the Keurig machine, and rifling through the new magazines.
Katy decided to be aggressive.
“Della, what are you doing in my house?”
Della shook her long blonde hair.
And said nothing.
Her hands were behind her back.
In the blink of an eye, Della pulled out a kitchen knife. She came toward Katy, who was dressed in her yellow pajamas. All Katy could think about was blood on her PJs.
Della struck Katy across her chest. Blood flowed on the blue tiles of the kitchen, the Amish blue tiles. Katy lay on the floor and turned over. Blood spread over the tiles as if it were a flash flood. Then she pounced on Della from behind and beat her head against the floor.
Pound! Pound! Pound! Blood spurted forth.
Not a word was spoken.
Katy ran bleeding and screaming from her house. Barefoot, she raced over to a neighbor’s and with her two fists rammed on the front door.