FIVE MINUTE FICTION
Alice rolled over in bed and looked at the clock. 12:15am. Her phone was sitting on charge next to it and was still in the red. Only ten minutes had passed since she last checked the time.
She was incredibly tired but sleep seemed to be avoiding her. Alice’s eyes stung and ached longing to find slumber, and there was a tingle in her forehead marking the building of a headache which would undoubtedly evolve into a migraine. She contemplated taking a pain killer. That involved her getting out of bed and walking to the kitchen to the medicine cupboard. However, she just didn’t possess the energy at that moment to be bothered, so rolled over to her other side and closed her eyes in hope.
Alice sat bolt upright!
“What was that?!”, she thought, heart racing and breathing heavy as if she had just run a marathon. Her eyes were wide in fright. She tried to slow her breathing while her mind frantically attempted to make sense of the loud noise and where it had come from.
“Was probably outside,” she told herself, her body calming down to a more normal pace. Alice was still sitting straight up in bed. She strained her hearing for any other noises.
Finally, she allowed herself to relax and lay down again. Adrenaline had woken her completely. Even her eyes didn’t hurt anymore and the niggling headache seemed to have vanished. Now she knew she wouldn’t get any sleep. The clock on the bedside drawers told her it was 12:45am.
Sighing deeply, she stared at the ceiling trying to decide if she should get up or stay in bed.
Something hit the floor in another room.
Alice stopped breathing. Her body froze.
“Did that noise come from the kitchen?” she thought. It sounded like it had but she wasn’t sure.
Mice came to mind at that moment. Alice hated mice. Ever since they’d moved into the townhouse, there has been a problem with them. Numerous complaints to the landlord have fallen on deaf ears. Even though the mice were clearly there prior to moving in, not even a compromise has been offered. Now, Alice was feeling a little angry at the thought. They were keeping her awake.
Obviously, the previous smash hadn’t been outside.
Alice took a long deep breath and, again, looked at the clock beside her. 1am.
“Far out time is dragging,” she announced out loud to the room. “I suppose I should get up and check what the damage is.”
At that precise moment, there was another loud noise. This time it was closer to her room.
“What the hell is that?” her thoughts queried.
Fear stricken, Alice lay as still as she could and held her breath. Maybe it wasn’t a mouse.
Her heart was beating hard and fast in her chest. She needed to breathe but was terrified of making a noise, so as slowly and as quietly as she could, she allowed herself to exhale and inhale shallow breaths.
She could hear creaks in the hallway getting closer to her room. Was that the sliding of a foot on the hallway carpet?
Alice wanted to hide, but she was petrified to the spot. Any sound from her would alert whoever it was to her exact whereabouts.
Then it was quiet. Too quiet. You-could-hear-a-pin-drop quiet.
Alice thought she would hurt her ears straining to hear a sound. Any tiny sound which would let her know where the intruder was.
She was certain now that it was indeed not a mouse. Someone was there to murder her!
The clock declared it was 1:15am. As she looked, her phone lit up, indicating it had reached full charge. Quickly, she unplugged it and prayed the intruder hadn’t noticed the light in her room. Staying where she was would certainly not help her. Alice knew this. She had to find the courage to move and hide. But where?
Under the bed was too obvious. So was the wardrobe. But there really wasn’t anywhere else in her room which would provide an effective cover from danger. No matter what she decided, there were no good hiding places. So, she went with the closest – under the bed.
“It’s better than nothing,” she reasoned with herself.
Alice had to psych herself up in order to move from her frozen position, “Your life is at stake! Move!”
As quietly as she could, heart almost bursting with fear, and with as little breathing as possible, Alice slowly rolled out of bed on the farthest side from the door. With the same stealth, she crawled under the bed. Lying motionless on her stomach, she placed her hands under her chin so her breathing would make less noise than if it were to hit the floor. No carpet in her room.
All she could do now was wait. Wait for the perpetrator to enter her room, find her, and kill her. Alice’s short life flashed before her eyes. She hadn’t had a chance to really live. Tears streamed silently down her cheeks soaking her arms and forming a puddle under her hands.
All she had wanted to do was sleep. Why had the Sandman avoided her tonight? At least if she was asleep, she wouldn’t know the end was near.
Amidst the tears, Alice heard creaking from the other side of her closed bedroom door. Her body stiffened at the sound of the door knob turning. From her hiding place, she watched as the door slowly opened and black boots appeared at the foot of her bed. Shiny black boots. None she had ever seen before.
Alice could now feel her heart beating hard and fast in her throat as well as her chest. She could hear it in her ears. Alice prayed hard that the intruder wouldn’t find her and she would live. Nothing else could fit into her mind. Making it through the night was all that mattered.
The shiny black boots stepped towards the bed head, the floor boards creaking underfoot. Sounds of the intruder moving things around on the bedside drawers could be heard. What were they looking for? They were there for only a minute – the longest minute in the history of minutes!
And then the shiny black boots walked out of the bedroom and up the hall way, back in the direction of the kitchen from where they had come. There was the sound of a door being gently closed and then, silence.
As soon as she heard the door close, Alice slowly crawled out from hiding and sat on her bed. She cried out loud, “Thank you” over and over again, hot tears of relief drenching her face and neck. Her hands and body were shaking with adrenaline and shock. She had survived!
Once the tears stopped, and her body and mind had calmed, Alice looked around her room. The clock said it was 2am. Alice felt like she had been hiding for hours!
Who the hell had been in her room? What had they wanted? As she thought about it, the intruder hadn’t even looked around the room for her. It was definitely strange.
Alice had to see if everyone else was ok. She turned on the lamp next to her and that’s when she saw it.
With her name on it.
Nicely wrapped with a ribbon.
It freaked her out. Who breaks into people’s homes and leaves gifts? Suspiciously, she placed her ear up close to it. To her relief, there was no ticking.
Those shiny black boots sprung to mind again. Odd looking shiny black boots. Who does she know who wears weird shiny black boots? No one she could think of.
She ran to the kitchen. There was a broken plate on the floor and an empty cup on the sink. In the lounge room, in the corner, there were extra presents under the tree! Looking at one of the tags, Alice saw they were for her little brothers from……..Santa?!
“No way!” She exclaimed.
At sixteen, Alice stopped believing in Santa when she was ten.
“But, Santa’s not real,” she reminded herself. “Mum and Dad did this.”
As she turned to go back to bed, there was the slightest of a tingling sound coming from outside. Looking out of the front window, then the kitchen window, and lastly, her bedroom window, Alice couldn’t see anything, so dismissed it.
At closer inspection of the box on her bedside drawers, she noticed further writing under her name on the tag. It read……
“Sorry it’s taken so long. From Santa.”
Shocked, but curiously, Alice unwrapped the present. As she looked at the gift, once more tonight, her eyes cried, but this time with tears of joy. When she was ten, Alice lost her favourite teddy bear, Billy, at school. That Christmas, she asked Santa for him to bring Billy home. Santa didn’t grant her wish, so Alice stopped believing.
Tonight, Billy came home.