The follow story is by guest author Casey Callison. If you enjoy this story, find Casey on Twitter at @caseycallison.
Michael knew this would happen. In a way, he had been prepared for it. It was not the first time, it would not be the last. The upstairs hallway seemed longer than it normally did. Michael supposed that was because he was inching slowly in the dark so they would not hear him moving. Each step was placed strategically so the boards in the old hall did not squeak and give away where he was. Working around those old, noisy areas on that hardwood floor was second nature at this point. However, everything looked different in the dark. The knots in the hardwood he used as landmarks to avoid the squeaky spots weren’t as apparent, luckily he had done this many times before and could navigate this hallway with his eyes closed. The grey of the walls he was used to seeing was a more ominous color that made everything seem more despairing.
This hallway usually had a more uplifting feel. This is the house he was raised in. This hallway had some great memories. From him and his brother starting at the top of the stairs and riding down them in cardboard boxes, to yelling at his sister for taking too long in the shower in the mornings. The hallway still had all the pictures from his childhood. The family at the lake, at the amusement park, all the school pictures, and pictures from each sport they all played. This was home. Right now though, he had to get to a spot he could not be found.
The odds were not good. They never were. He was almost to the spot he had been preparing for this exact moment. This was a new strategy for Michael and he was confident that he would be able to escape this time. They started to call for him, almost mockingly, “Michael, we’re coming for you.” The footsteps were beginning to echo through the foyer. They did not hide the fact that they were coming. They had told him last time that they would be back and they would find him. They would always find him.
I thought I would have more time. Michael thought to himself, beginning to panic, unsure if he would make it to his destination. His pace began to quicken as he made it past the stairwell and past the guest bathroom. He only had to make it to the linen closet. The beam of a flashlight lit up the stair well. Michael ducked into the bathroom to get away from the light. He wasn’t sure if they saw him or not. The light lingered over the open door he had just ducked into. Michael strained as he was listening to what they were saying, but it was no hope. Their whispers were too quiet. His heart began to race as he started to think about what they could possibly be saying. Were they planning for what they would do after his capture? Were they figuring out a way to surround him so that there was no hope of getting away? What am I going to do? I could attempt to out run them. That almost worked last time. But what if they didn’t even see me? If they saw me they would surely be coming up the stairs by now. Michael was beginning to worry that he wouldn’t make it to the closet, that one place he knew that he would escape them. They had come close to giving up last time and he knew that with the planning he had done, this would be the night he would be able to sleep in peace knowing that he would not be hunted for at least one more day.
The light retracted as they left the foyer as the hunters made their way around to the ground floor living room. The flashlight showed the light blue color they had painted the foyer that summer and the white trim around the doorways and the walls. Michael breathed a sigh of relief. He poked his head out to see if his assailants were still around, but there was no sign of them anywhere. Their footsteps were even hard to hear from where they were in the house, they must have made their way to the two back bedrooms by now. There wasn’t much more time. The linen closet was close. He began to inch down the hall again surrounded by pictures of his family.
The door to the linen closet wasn’t heavy. It was one of the few doors in this old house that didn’t creak when it was opened or closed. It wasn’t a sturdy door by any means, but it would be almost all that would conceal him from the predators chasing him. He pulled a section of spare sheets out and moved in behind them. The sheets would act as an added layer of protection. He had figured out that he could squeeze behind the flannel sheets and pull them back in to their place and nothing would look out of the ordinary. He reached his hand between two of the sheets and quietly pulled the door shut. Now the waiting would begin.
Not only could Michael hear all the doors throughout the house open and close, but he could also feel the vibration through the floor. Once again he could hear the whispers of their voices. He couldn’t make out much, but could hear his name mentioned occasionally by the hunters. A light set of footsteps was heading up the stairs. He heard one say, “He has to be up here.” That was enough to get Michael’s heart racing again. The linen closet was to the left of the stairs about 10 feet away, the hunters went to the right. The feeling that came over him was one that everyone is familiar with. The feeling where there is so much anticipation that everything moves in slow motion. He waited what felt like hours and they had only searched two of the four rooms upstairs. They got to the stairs and were silent again. He was sure they were listening for him to make some sort of movement so they could find him. Finally they began walking his direction. His heart sped up even faster. He felt that they could almost hear his heartbeat it was beating so loud.
They passed the closet right by without even so much as slowing down. They went into the last bedroom upstairs. He could hear them talking. “Where is he?” the first hunter said. “I’m not sure. Normally he gives at least some sign of where he’s been. We must have looked right past him when we were downstairs.” The second replied. Michael felt an optimism come to him. He had never heard them talk like this before. They left the bedroom and started back for the stairs. He could hear the footsteps. He had finally outsmarted them. This was the first time.
When he could no longer hear any movement he shifted and caused the sheets he was hiding behind to move against the wall. The door flew open and there he saw the direct beam of the flashlight shining right on his face. The blood rushed from his face and the optimism he had just felt left him just as suddenly as it had come. “Finally! We got you! And to think we almost gave up.” Said Michael’s father. “I thought I had you this time! It took you forever.” Said Michael. “Ok, dad. It’s your turn to hide!”