Dusk was settling in; cold and drizzly damp, the kind of cold that just makes your bones ache. A single mom was bathing her toddlers before tucking them into bed for the night. Their bellies were full and their eyelids beginning to feel heavy as she hurried to dry them so that they wouldn't chill while she was gone. She had to go to work and there was no one she could call on to keep her babies safe while she made a living for the four of them.
It didn't used to be so bad. The neighborhood was a safe place when she was born here but now, three kids later, a lot more people had moved in and they weren't good neighbors. Some of them were downright evil and she made a point to try and make herself invisible when she saw one of them coming.
Usually the bad ones were pretty easy to spot. They were bawdy, smelled of alcohol and cigarettes and drove noisy trucks with beds full of howling, chained dogs. As long as she kept to the shadows they were usually too drunk to notice her. As she quietly sang her babies a lullaby she shuddered at the thought of what would happen if one of these barbarians found her children alone.she couldn't think about that; she had work to do and she had to keep her mind on the job. The family was counting on her.
When the last of the little ones had drifted off to sleep she stepped out into the moonlit chill. She was still trying to shake off the awful scenes that her imagination had just conjured up when she stepped on a twig, snapping her attention into the moment. As she looked up she found that she had caught someone else's attention as well. She froze, hope against hope that she had not been noticed, but he was close enough she could see in his eyes that she had made a fatal mistake.
Her mind raced as she assessed the severity of the situation: He was big. He towered over her and she could smell the beer on his breath. She didn't have to see the gun pointed at her to sense his lack of respect for life. She knew his kind and had witnessed the cavalier way they extinguished lives in their lust for blood. They killed the innocent and the unarmed to prove that they were men. He was too close. If she ran he would find the kids. Her love, a mother's love, would not even think of saving herself and leaving her young ones in the hands of such a perverted mind.
But what could she do? Perhaps she could bluff her way out of this. She had learned enough about this kind of man to know that they are all cowards at heart. If she could make herself look fierce enough perhaps he would run. If he did, she resolved that home or no home, she would pack up her brood and leave town in the very next instant.
With all of the courage she could muster she raised her slender, 100 lb frame to look as commanding as she could and shrieked, with a sound that would make your blood run cold, her threats of what she would do if he came one step closer.
Laughing at her pathetic attempt to deter him, he fired the gun point blank into her. The impact at such close range spun her around and he fired again, read more...