The tinny voice sounded again, monotonously repeating the same mantra. Chris did not dare speak back, but the fact that someone was there was comforting. The sound of heavy boots tramping across the kitchen floor came as a sudden loud noise as the intruder, who must have been standing still all this time, suddenly started walking.
Chris quietly placed the phone on a shelf behind his back as he pressed himself against the shelves. He raised the bottle over his head and waited for the pantry door to swing open.
But the boots retreated back down the hallway towards the entrance. Chris let out a long breath and then realised he had been holding it. He picked the phone back up and pressed it to his ear. The voice was still repeating its message.
“Hullo,” he whispered.
The voice stopped instantly. “Emergency Operator,” she now spoke more animatedly.
Chris continued, “I need help, I may not be able to talk for long.”
“That’s ok,” she responded. “Help is on the way. Can you tell me what happened?”
Chris blabbered out, “Amy is dead, they attacked me, tried to smash the phone, bashed me, I’m hiding…”
“Calm down, one thing at a time please,” The Emergency Operator interrupted.
My name is Claire and I will help you as much as possible, but I need good information.”
“OK” said Chris.
“Now, there is a dead body?”
I don’t know I only saw one, there could be more, they made a mess…”
She interrupted again. “Are they still there?”
Is there anybody else in the house with you?
Chris spoke urgently and in as low a voice as possible.
“No. There is only one intruder that I know of. They attacked me and knocked me out. Our cleaner has been killed and butchered.” His voice cracked as he said this.
“OK, where are you in the house? I have blueprints here” The voice remained calm.
“I am in the pantry off the kitchen.”
“OK, sit tight there. Help will be there in a few minutes.”
Simon had watched the patio area and through the windows into the family room for over 2 minutes now and seen no sign of movement. He risked sneaking closer and slid open the sliding door. Stepping into the room he quickly moved across to the archway to the kitchen and risked a look around. No-one there.
Simon looked around the kitchen. All looked normal. There were a couple of unwashed bowls on the bench. He saw a odd shaped piece of plastic on the floor and walked over. Picking it up he realised it was a battery cover off something. He read the manufacturers label and realised it was from the phone. As he was looking at the plastic cover a voice speaking caught his attention. It was very quiet and he couldn’t place its location. It almost sounded like a radio on very low volume.
He heard it again. This time as he strained to hear he caught the sound of a male voice whispering. “There’s someone in the kitchen now.” The voice was indistinct and muffled but it was definitely coming from the pantry. Simon stepped over to the pantry door and whispered “Chris?”
There was absolute silence for a few seconds then the pantry door cracked open. “Simon! Quickly, in here mate.” Chris opened the door wide and dragged Simon in by his shirt sleeve.
As the door shut and the gloom enveloped them Simon whispered hastily, “What the heck is going on? And is that your cleaner outside all chopped up?”
“Shhhh” Chris warned. “There is someone in the house. They already attacked me once.”
Simon asked “What are we going to do?”
“Wait for the enforcers. They are on their way.”
“I know” Simon replied, “I talked to them too.”
Suddenly a tinny voice broke through their conversation. “Chris are you there?”
Chris held the phone to his ear. Simon passed him the battery cover he was still holding. Chris took it as he listened carefully to the operator. Then he turned the phone over and slid the cover on as he relayed the message to Simon.
“They are outside now They are going to come inside in the next 2-5 minutes. We are to keep our heads down and stay in the back of the cupboard. They may use gas and weapons if necessary.”
The two lads hunched down in the back of the cupboard and waited.
About 3 minutes later the door was opened and a burly enforcer in armour stood there. He gestured for the two boys to follow him and turned and left toward the front door. As they followed him they saw enforcers everywhere with weapons drawn standing beside doorways, or running in pairs. All of them were in constant communications with their team. The enforcer hurried the two boys out the now open wide front door that had been forced open.
Outside they were passed to some other technicians who took them straight to a van parked out in the street. It was black and had no windows apart from the front section where the driver sat. After the technician spoke on his comms unit a door opened from the inside and the boys were ushered inside.
The inside of the van was crammed with electronic gear. Several monitors displayed views of the house both inside and out, obviously from enforcers helmet cameras. 3 technicians sat watching the screens and issuing commands to the teams inside.
“Did you get him?” Chris asked excitedly.
The room started to buzz with comms traffic and the technicians ignored Chris and Simon as they answered and directed the operation. Chris noticed that one screen had the floor plan of the house on it. He watched another screen curiously as the enforcer wearing the camera flung open the door to his bedroom. He could see the weapons muzzle being poked around the doorway. There was no-one there.
All clear responses started to come through on the comms units. Chris watched as one screen showed the patio area. As the camera wearer headed toward the end of the patio and around the hedge onto the lawn where he had seen Amy’s body he held his breath.
In total surprise he exclaimed “Where is she?” and “What’s that?” as he saw nothing where she had been but a round black mark. Small tendrils of smoke drifted upward and as the camera cam lower to view the patch, Chris could see that the grass had been burned completely away. Even the dirt was scorched.
The van rocked as an enforcer entered. He looked commanding and he spoke first to the technicians. “Status?” he asked.
“All clear, zero hostile, zero hostage, zero bodies.”
“Good job, start packing up.”
“You two, come with me.” And he crooked his finger at Chris and Simon and beckoned them. Turning on his heel he strode from the van without a backward glance to see if they were coming. Simon followed immediately, but Chris turned back to the monitor, puzzled, and hoping to see more from the lawn. But the monitors had gone dead and the technicians were starting to shut systems down.
Chris hurried from the van and caught up to Simon who was walking behind the enforcer toward the house.
Walking back into the house was completely different. Now there were technicians with cameras and equipment everywhere. The big enforcer turned down the hallway toward the kitchen. Reaching the kitchen he stopped and turned back to Chris and Simon. “Which one of you is Chris?” he asked. Chris stepped forward. “Me.”
“This is where you were attacked.” It was a statement not a question. “Yes,” Chris volunteered though he felt his answer was unnecessary.
“You were thrown to the floor there”, he pointed at the middle of the floor, “before hiding in the pantry right?”
“Yes” responded Chris. “What about Amy, and did you capture the intruder?”
“We have found no-one and in fact have found no evidence of any bodies.”
“What happened to Amy? I saw a black circle on the grass on the monitor in the van.”
“Who is Amy?”
“She is our cleaner. I found her on the lawn all chopped up. There was blood everywhere. Now she’s gone.”
“Come and show me.” The enforcer stepped to the side to allow Chris to go first. Carefully stepping around the technicians who were checking for fingerprints and other forensic evidence Chris led the others to the patio. A technician opened the door for him with gloves. Chris walked around to the end of the patio and to the lawn beyond the hedge. There were a number of technicians around the black circle and now Chris could smell the acrid odour of burnt flesh and blood. There were still some tendrils of smoke coming off the blackened earth.
“She was here.” Chris pointed to the circle. “But she wasn’t all burnt up.”
The enforcer spoke to a technician briefly.
Coming back to the boys he said “There is no evidence of blood or any other human material in the burnt area or around on the grass. Who was Amy?”
“She’s our cleaner” Chris responded testily. “I already told you.”
“I will need to find out who she is,” the enforcer responded. “We will do a database search on her and then try and locate her.”
Chris was flummoxed. “I saw her body,” he said. Simon piped in, “So did I.”
The enforcer looked concerned for the first time.
“We have contacted your parents and your father is on his way here now. We will get details from him.”