Short Story - The Thud
The thud came again.
Rose clicked the television on mute, straining her ear against the
storm that splattered the roof with a mixture of rain and hail.
The soft thump came from the basement, as though someone, or
something, had knocked a book to the floor. Rose gripped the arms of
the chair and cursed her husband for leaving her alone on a night like
this, knowing she was fearful of storms, empty houses and prowlers,
however imaginary they might be. She'd already lit every lamp and
overhead light in the house, but they failed to dispel the damp,
dreary feeling of impending doom.
Rose was a bit too over protective about things, she wouldn't stay
outside for more than 10 minutes, because of the dangerous sunrays.
Her husband Jimmy had nagged her about getting a dog to keep her
company on the nights he worked late, but she wouldn't have anything
to do with a dog. What if the dog got rabies and went mad while she
was alone with him? Her small delicate frame would be no match for a
snarling animal who would shred her to pieces with its gnashing teeth.
The television screen flickered in muted silence as it ran the news
story again, warning the public about the man with the knife. He'd
been fooling the police for weeks, leaving behind no clues or
reasoning to his appetite for slaughtering woman who were home alone.
But Rose knew where the man was. He was in her basement skulking
around in the dark with the butcher knife between his teeth.
She reached for the phone, preparing to summon the police again, but
shuddered at the arrogance during their previous visit less than an
hour ago. While searching room to room the officers exchanged glances,
as if satisfying a woman's imagination was a waste of their precious
"It's Rose Campbell again," she said weakly into the phone. Despite
her attempts to sound rational her voice quivered like a woman on the
verge of insanity. "You must send someone right away. He's in my
homeâ€¦I know he is."
Lightning filled the night sky and Rose pulled the receiver away from
her ear, fearful of being struck through the mouthpiece. She'd read
somewhere about an elderly woman struck by lightning as it travelled
through the phone wires and burned her to smithereens. She got more
nervous as she thought of it.
"Mrs. Campbell," the officer sighed, "our officers have already
checked your home from top to bottom and found nothing, why don't you
make yourself a nice cup of tea andâ€¦"
"Cup of tea?" Rose shouted as a clap of thunder hit the house. "I
don't want a cup of teaâ€¦ there is a man in my house! I can hear him in
the cellar, don't you understand?"
It suddenly occurred to Rose that the intruder might hear her, race up
the basement stairs, knife clenched in his fist, and put a quick