Tom awoke with a start as Judith shook his arm.
“Shhh!” she whispered. “I heard a noise. Like a window breaking.”
He whispered back. “But the burglar alarm didn't go off.” He looked toward the clock-radio. “Hey! There's no light. The power must be off.” He looked out the back window. “But there's street lights on across the alley. It must be just us.”
He picked up the phone from the night-stand. “Phone's dead, too. No alarm, and we can't call the cops.”
There was a noise from downstairs, like someone had bumped a chair.
Judith clutched his arm. “Grubbs is back!”
“Maybe if we fired some shots out the back window it would scare him off.”
“I don't want him scared off,” she replied. “I want to get this settled!”
He grabbed his gun from the nightstand and rolled out of bed. He crouched and duckwalked to the bedroom door. The hallway was black. The only light came through the doorway across the hall, from a street light out front.
He groped his way to the bed, where Judith was adjusting the covers. “Can't use our plan. The stairwell light is out.” The plan had been to use the hall as a fatal funnel, with the intruder silhouetted by the stairwell light.
“What'll we do?”
“Shoot him as he comes through the doorway. The street light'll backlight him. You get behind the dresser on the hallway wall. I'll get behind the dresser on the side wall. Don't move from there, and shoot only towards the door.”
He groped his way to the dresser, found the jar of sugar he'd placed there, and removed the lid. He hastened to the doorway, and scattered the sugar down the hallway toward the stairs. Then he crouched behind the dresser.
He listened intently. There was no sound from outside. His ears were filled with the roar of his own blood. His breathing seemed to wheeze like a steam locomotive.
Thank God I never had that squeaky step fixed. He's coming up the stairs.
Moments later there was a faint crunch from the hallway.
It's working. He's stepping on the sugar.
Silence for a long moment.
Tom held his breath. He's coming down the hallway. Got to spot him as he gets to the door.
He tried to breathe slowly and shallowly as he stared at the faintly lighted rectangle that was the doorway. Suddenly a darker shadow loomed in the doorway.
A beam of light stabbed through the darkness towards their bed. In his mind's eye Tom saw a flashlight taped to the barrel of a long gun, with a cardboard tube taped to the flashlight to give a narrow beam.
The shotgun blasts left his ears ringing. The muzzle flash blinded him. As he shook his head to clear it he heard shots from across the room, and saw muzzle flashes from Judith's gun.
The figure in the doorway swung sideways, and the light beam searched around the dresser, probing for Judith.
Please God, NO!
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