After my house was broken into, I stopped sleeping there. I stayed with family until I could get everything moved as quickly as possible. The stalker had already taken my computer and my journal, there was hardly anything private left to worry about. My brothers helped me with the heavy lifting, and within a day they’d gotten most everything out of there. The only things remaining were a stack of board games in the top of my closet, which I’d tried to keep them from discovering, since half of them originally belonged to them in the first place. Other than that, it was just a roll of toilet paper and a little Ewok figurine I’d tied to the fan pull chain that hung from the vaulted ceiling.
When I came in the next morning, my door was still locked and the windows still held cobwebs between the glass panes. But half the board games were missing. They’d taken Star Wars Monopoly, Battleship, and a deck of civil war playing cards. They’d left Risk. Who chooses Battleship over Risk? Clearly I was dealing with a straight-up psychopath.
Even more criminal, they’d ripped the Ewok from his lofty home and thrown it across the room into a corner.
I was enraged, and my helplessness at not knowing who to blame just made me even angrier. I’d called the police, talked to the neighbors, and even done my version of interrogating The Shanty Man, but I’d yet to gather a single clue. I was feeling a lot of feelings, so I decided to share them the best way I knew how. I left a note for my stalker.
Using a poster board and a sharpie, I wrote “YOU FORGOT THIS, YOU PRICK” and taped a small bottle of electronic cleaning product to it. He’d taken every single thing associated with my computer, the least he could do was keep it clean.
Thinking this was the end of the saga, I set my sights on fresh beginnings and began decorating my new place across town. I was the only one living there over the summer, because Peeves was in Bolivia and Sars was with family on the East coast. My friend L was in town so she stayed over to watch me unpack and dazzle me with fascinating conversations about Einstein’s brain being dissected. Around 10PM that first evening, we decided we needed a snack and hopped into her car. Before we left, I pushed a box of trash out to the trash can because it had old chicken in it and had begun to reek of death.
We were gone for about 20 minutes. When we got back and opened the garage door, the smell was overwhelming. The same back step we’d just walked down, that had been locked inside the garage, was now covered in the rotten chicken.
“Maybe it was the wind,” L said.
“Yeah…” I agreed. “Or a dog did it.”
That was the extent of our discussion. We refused to entertain any notions that it could be related to everything else that happened. It’s amazing what you can convince yourself when you’re unwilling to accept the truth.
The next night we sat in my living room, unpacking boxes. L was a pre-med student at Duke and was drawing pundit squares to help me understand hemophilia. I was leaning against a wall with boxes all around, stacking my worldly possessions in concentric circles that fanned all around us. L was mid-sentence in her medical lesson when the power suddenly went out. I saw her eyes grow huge in surprise just before we were plunged into darkness. The radio continued to play for half a second into the darkness before abandoning us in an eerie silence. I’d never realized how loud air-conditioning and lighting could be until it suddenly stopped.
“Oh my God, Aussa.” L whispered.
I was already gone. I’d jumped up and picked my way across the boxes. We were near the kitchen so I opened a drawer and grabbed a knife.
“We have to go,” I whispered back.
She was silent, not moving.
“L,” I said, “get up, now.”
I knew the breaker box was in the spare room just down the hall. If the stalker were inside the house, we’d have to walk past them in order to get out the front door. But L refused to move until I’d darted to the front door, thrown it open, and flooded the house with streetlight. Only then did she jump to her feet and run to join me. We didn’t stop running until we reached the neighbor’s house, where we banged on their door for help. At the last second I realized I was still holding the butcher knife, and stashed it on their windowsill so they wouldn’t think we were the psychos.
Half an hour later we re-entered the house with a well-armed friend. We quickly retrieved our cell phones and car keys and attempted to flip the breaker. Nothing happened. Hoping it was nothing but a power outage, we drove around the neighborhood, dismayed to see that everyone else’s lights were on.
The electric company sent someone out the next morning. He took a quick look in the backyard and told me I’d need to put a lock on the gate because someone had “tampered with the green box.”
The rest of the summer held a mix of equally bizarre episodes. When Sars and Peeves returned for the fall semester, I filled them in on everything. We decided to go on the offense—we changed all the locks, had a deadbolt put on the patio door, installed motion-sensitive floodlights, and purchased an alarm system. We were determined to feel safe. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize that every single one of those things would be used against us.
Do you freeze or spring to action in a moment of crisis? What’s the first weapon you would reach for if you had to defend yourself? How safe do you feel in your home?
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