This week's picture prompt is a photo taken by me! This is looking up into the stairwell of my house from the hallway up to the loft bedroom. I just love the view.
A writer friend of mine once said that when are you not sure how to end something or feel it's not very interesting, try and turn it on its head. It worked for this tale.
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A shadow flickered across the ceiling at the very top. She took in a sharp breath, adrenaline shooting through her, causing her legs to feel jelly like and her stomach to do a flip. How long had they been moving about up there? She heard a scraping sound. That was a drawer opening.
She could hear more drawers opening and decided she had to go up there and confront them. She clutched the baseball bat that she’d left in the corner of the hallway and crept round to the bottom of the stairs and started to ascend, keeping close to the wall and treading into the edges of each step to minimise creaking.
At the first landing she stepped round a squeaky piece of laminate and tiptoed to the bottom of the stairs to the top landing. They were opening closets now too. The possibility of having misheard was gone. That was enough for her to muster the courage to climb the last staircase.
The door was ajar at the top. She could see the shadow of a person moving around the room. They seemed to systematically be going through all the cupboards as though looking for something.
She jumped forward, and kicked the door open fully, making the person inside jump, holding the bat up, ready to attack. The man and woman inside the room froze and put their hands up.
There was an open suitcase on the bed and they were busy filling it. They must be going on holiday, which would explain why they were up at three o’clock in the morning rather than sleeping soundly, like they were supposed to be doing.
She immediately regretted her decision to come upstairs and confront them rather than leave. She couldn’t take on two of them. The only upside was that with her bulky clothing and mask, it disguised how big she was or what sex – plus they weren’t a young couple, so they were less likely to challenge her anyway.
‘Get on the floor!’ she shouted in a low gruff voice. ‘Faces down.’
They did as she demanded.
She glanced round the room, and spotted some jewellery on the dressing table. She grabbed it and stuffed it in her pockets, making it look like that was what she was here for. It wasn’t, she was just covering for her shock and delaying her retreat as she thought through how she was going to do it.
She could grab the bag of stolen stuff she’d put in the hallway as she went out the front door. Lenny was in the car outside ready to go, although if they saw them drive away they might be able to trace them. She needed to be fast.
She didn’t waste any more time stalling, and after one last brandish making sure they were still face down on the floor, she took the stairs two at a time. But as she rounded the first landing, she caught her foot on a loose piece of flooring and went head first down the final flight of stairs, cracking her head on the wall as she fell, and giving her neck a fatal twist on the last step at the bottom.
She lay sprawled on the hallway floor, one hand on the bag of loot as though making one last grab for it, dead.
It looked like Lenny would be driving home alone.