Anna bolted the front as well as the back door. She shut all the windows and drew the curtains, first the white lace ones and then the dark velvety ones too. Relieved, she turned on the TV and switched to the local news channel. The reporter on the channel was going on about the ‘stranger’ that invaded people’s homes during the night and carried children away. They still didn’t have any clue as to who it was and what was their motive since nobody got a call for ransom money. Anna couldn’t imagine why he (or was it a she?) would carry away the children if kidnapping for money wasn’t his motive? Was he killing the children? Or maybe mutilating them and putting them to work as beggars? Not all the people that had disappeared were children though. Some were teenagers and a couple of them were young adults.
Watching the news always made her nervous. Turning it off, Anna got up and went over to the door to make sure she had bolted it correctly. Then she checked all the windows. Very nasty business, this. What would people want of innocent little children? Shaking her head, she went over to the kitchen and put 2 cups of water to boil adding the instant noodles and the masala to it, not feeling well enough to make anything else. Then she took out a carton of juice when the doorbell rang. Brows furrowed, she looked at her watch. Who could it be at this time of the night? She finished pouring the juice and put the carton back in the refrigerator. She stirred the contents of the pot when the doorbell rang again. “COMING!” She took off her apron and flung it on the back of a dining chair and walked towards the door. She looked through the peephole but couldn’t see anyone. “Who’s there?” No answer. Her heart beating wildly, she managed a “Go away or I’ll call the police!” but couldn’t stop her voice from quivering towards the end. Still no answer. Must be the children from next door. Always up to some mischief or the other, she concluded.
She went back to the boiling pot, turned off the stove and poured the gooey syrupy noodles on a plate, sitting down to dinner. As she took the first sip of the juice the doorbell rang again. Anna gave a start and spilled some juice on her skirt. She pushed her chair aside and determined to give the neighbor’s children a piece of her mind, she walked over to the door and looked through the hole. Nobody. Without making any noise this time, she decided to wait there at the door and catch the person who rung the bell. Surely they will have to come off hiding to ring the bell again.
Anna slowed down her breathing and kept her eyes glued to the door. Patience, she reminded herself. She didn’t notice anything at first and after about two minutes when she was ready to give up, she saw an arm extend from the other side of the wall and ring the doorbell. That’s not a child. She felt her knees weaken and her throat dried up. She couldn’t get away from the peephole, she had to know more. Soon, she saw the arm again, rickety fingers drawn out, hesitating and then ringing the bell. She put her hands over her mouth to stop from screaming and tip-toed toward the phone, stealing a look backwards now and then. She dialed 100 and put the receiver near her ears. No sound. She punched the ‘off/on’ button on her phone several times and listened. No dial tone.
Shit, she cursed under the breath and put the receiver down but it made a horrible racket as it fell on the floor. SHIT!, She exclaimed again as she hurriedly picked the phone up and put it in it’s place. Anna ran to the dining table and picked up the cellphone. No signal. She moved to the farthest end of the kitchen and she saw a faint signal line appear on the screen. She dialed 100 and waited, fingers drumming on the kitchen counter. Pick up the damn phone, she muttered under her breath.
“Calling somebody?” She gasped when she heard the deep baritone just behind her and then felt a strong hand over her mouth, gagging her. “How?” she managed to ask.
“You didn’t check the back door, did you?”
She heard “You’ve reached the city police station. Who’s calling?” before she felt the blood gushing forth her slit neck.