This story is by Michael Hughes and was part of our 2018 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
I awoke around 2 AM, which has, unfortunately, become commonplace. I groped around for my phone, grabbed it off the nightstand and let the dim light of the lock screen guide me towards the bathroom. From behind me, I heard a soft snore. I glanced back to see my peacefully sleeping wife, Celia, steal the remainder of the blankets I had been using. I’m envious of her ability to sleep through the night; an elephant could stampede through the room, and she would hardly stir. I assume she’s been trained to ignore disturbances due to my nightly pilgrimages to the toilet.
As I turned my attention back towards the bathroom, I heard a faint and muffled thud came from outside the bedroom door. Too soft to locate, but loud enough to know that it’s probably not the cat – unless he decided to push something off the mantle, which is always a possibility. Another noise, so slight it was almost drowned out by my breath, which had quickened. That sounded like it came from downstairs, maybe a window? Perhaps Grace was trying to sneak out to see one of the boys that had recently started showing up at our house. It’s impossible to know what teenage girls are thinking.
I slowly opened the bedroom door and crept out into the hall to catch her in the act when I saw the broad shoulders of a giant man looming over me.
“Oh, fuck!” I gasped.
He swung his arm wide, and an object in his hand connected to my head. I feebly called out to my wife as I crumpled to the ground, everything going dark before I made contact with the floor.
When I regained consciousness, it was to the smell of urine, which I could feel warmly pooling in the sweatpants I had worn to bed. I recognized this before I realized that, while I was blacked out, he had gagged my mouth, bound my hands behind my back, and secured me to the leg of our bed.
In front of me stood the man that had struck me. I could see, in his hand, the gun that must have hit me. I looked around trying to gauge how much time had passed; it couldn’t have been long since it was still black outside. In my sweeping gaze, I could see that my wife was tied and gagged in the corner of the room. I didn’t see my daughter! I prayed that she was hidden in another place or managed to sneak out of the house while we were asleep.
“Ah, good morning, friend.” He spoke softly, without menace. He then stooped down until almost eye level. “I’ve had my eye on this place for a couple of weeks.” He laughed as he gestured towards the ground with the barrel of his gun. “You have such a beautiful home here and so many nice things, I hope you don’t mind, but I’ll be relieving you of some of them.” He started to walk towards my wife then turned back towards me. “I have an idea…”
I grunted as I shifted my weight.
“Don’t you make a fucking noise!” He snarled, as he moved in my direction. “I have an idea,” he said, regaining his composure. “I’m going to take off your gag. Scream and you catch a bullet. There will be no other warnings. Understand?”
I quickly nodded yes and mumbled “OK.” through the saliva soaked rag in my mouth.
He removed the gag, and I immediately started talking, despite my instructions.
“What do you want? Honey, are you okay?” Celia stared back at me with wide-eyed horror. “You better not have fucking hurt her!”
He stayed near to me and let me babble before pushing the gun to my forehead. That shut me up immediately. “You’re smarter than most. You talk, but you don’t shout.” He pulled the gun back. “I am here to offer you a choice. Well, I wasn’t. I planned to kill you all in your sleep. But since you were awake, this is much more fun.” He interjected. “Oh, and don’t worry about your daughter; she is tied up in bed.”
I thrashed in place. “You motherfucker! If you touch her, I swear to God. I’ll-”
“You’ll what? Kill me? You’re not really in the position to make credible threats. Plus, I searched this room while you were asleep.” He waved his arm in the air. “I didn’t find a single weapon here that could give you the upper hand.”
I deflated. “Please don’t hurt my baby girl.” I pleaded. “You can take anything you want, just let my family go.”
“I already know what I’m going to take; you’re just going to decide how.” He put his face inches from mine and whispered to me. “Your daughter or your wife. I am going to kill one and fuck the other.”
“You disgusting, fucking, goddamned piece of shit!” My voice was rising until he put the gun against me again. “You leave my fucking family alone. We don’t know who you are; we never did anything to you. Take anything you want. Just leave… leave us be.” Tears began to stream down my face. I couldn’t think of a single thing to stop him.
He remained close, still whispering, “If you don’t pick one, I’m going to fuck, then kill, both. Choose. Now.”
“Please…” I begged. “Please, don’t.” While sobbing, I looked over at Celia. She strained to hear this intruder’s whispers. I thought about the life we had before this night, years of dating, decades of marriage, and the birth of our darling Grace. Oh god, Grace. I can’t let him kill my baby.
He began to rise and clear his throat when I choked out, “Just kill me, let them live, please.”
“Now, that wasn’t an option was it?” His voice never rose. “I gave you door A or B, and you try to run towards the exit?” He paused for a moment. “I’ll tell you what… if you want, I’ll kill you. But then, I’m going to do both of them just like I said, the only difference is you die first. You need to make a choice, friend.” He smiled as he said it. Then a scowl swept across his face. “Who dies? Tell me now.”
I openly wept, as I meekly said, “My wife, Celia.”
“Celia, what a nice name, what a good choice, it was the one I had hoped you’d make.” He put the gag back in my mouth and removed Celia’s. “Feel free to chat, but stay quiet.” He said sternly. He bent down and kissed her forehead, then walked out of the room.
Celia stared at me, “What did he say to you? Why did you say my name?”
From beyond our bedroom, I could hear Grace struggling, her muffled yelps. Celia gasped then sat crying for several minutes as I tried to ignore the intruder’s awful grunting. Suddenly, Celia was screaming at me. “You told him to rape our daughter! You chose her to be raped over me? She’s fifteen, and you fucking let this happen to her?”
Then he was back, apparently upset at having been interrupted by the sudden noise, he quickly marched in and put the gun to Celia’s head. “Too loud.” He said softly and pulled the trigger.
I couldn’t look away fast enough; before I closed my eyes, I watched a spray of blood cover the wall next to her.
With my eyes shut tight, I could still hear the gunshot ringing; I felt his warm breath in my ear. “Good choice, friend.” Then he walked away.
I could hear his footsteps retreat down the stairs, then out of the house. From the hallway, I could make out faint muffled sobbing coming from Grace’s room. I sat listening to my daughter’s crying for the next 20 minutes until the police arrived.
The sun glistened from mounds of snow in the parking lot as I pulled in to pick Grace up from her therapy appointment. As she walked out of the building, I could see Grace talking with her therapist; there was a slight smile on her face as they exchanged their goodbyes. Grace turned towards the car and made eye contact with me during her approach, her smile vanished instantly. She and I can hardly speak to each other now, and I don’t see that changing. Grace knows that I chose her to be raped. Between death and anguish, I decided she should suffer. I can’t imagine she’ll forgive me anytime soon. However, this is the first time I have seen her smile in the seven months since it happened; I am optimistic that she is healing. I hate what she was forced to endure; but hopefully, someday, she will be able to live a happy life and find someone to love and have a relationship with. Like the peaceful life I once shared with her mother.