Last night the wife went to the Gym for the 7-8pm session, leaving me home with the kid. My daughter hadn’t been feeling well, and I decided to give her a slightly earlier bed time.
So at 7:30 I was upstairs reading my daughter a bed time story, when I heard an odd noise. I couldn’t quite place it, but it sounded close to the house, too close in fact. I paused, listened, but heard only silence. I’m sure it was the neighbour’s car door or something. I continued reading.
A minute later I heard another noise, louder this time. Again I couldn’t quite place what the noise was; I felt the hairs on the back of my neck raise and tingle. I froze, listening intently. This time my daughter asked what was up and I explained I heard a noise and was listening for it.
“Someone’s downstairs.” she said, quite matter of factly and a smile on her face.
“There can’t be.” I replied. “Mum’s down the gym and won’t be back till after 8.”
“It’s the floor boards.” she giggled, “I recognise the noise. Someone’s downstairs.” At 6 years old, this was a great game for her.
Now I was quite alarmed though. She was right, the noise had been too close to be the neighbour’s car door. There was definitely something moving downstairs. I figured the cats had probably brought in a kill or something and were re-enacting the death scene in the hallway, which is where they normally do it. I told my daughter to wait in bed, “I’ll just go check…”.
I walked out of her room and into the hall, I stopped to pull her bedroom door shut behind me. I paused to listen. The landing light was on, and hall light at the bottom of the stairs was not, just as I’d left it. Quietly I slipped down the stairs. I noticed that I had goose bumps on my arms.
At the bottom of the stairs I could see that there were no cats about, and I couldn’t hear any further noises. All seemed calm and normal, but now I had a choice to make: turn right into the hall way, or left into the study. The study door was ajar, and I could see the light was off. The chances of there being an intruder in there was slim I thought, but to check was risky for 2 reasons: they would see the door open and I’d have to stick my head round to peer behind the door; also I’d expose my back to the hallway, in the direction of which any intruder was far more likely to be, as that way lead to the front door, living room, kitchen, dining room and back door.
Finally I decided I didn’t want to leave any room unchecked between me and my daughter, so I took a chance and quickly poked my head round the study door. The room is small, and even in the half light I could see that there was no one there.
Of course there wasn’t! I was being silly. There was no one in the house, that only happens in the movies. It’s those pesky cats, I was sure. With renewed purpose I strode down the hallway and marched towards the kitchen. I’d do a quick sweep: the kitchen and it’s open plan dining room, then living room, and be back upstairs in 30 seconds and back to the book. I could see the kitchen light was on and I push the door open as I strode in briskly.
I can tell you with complete certainty what happened in the next few seconds, because slow motion took over and every detail is completely clear to me:
The door to the kitchen opened to the right, revealing the kitchen and sink, piled high with dirty pots and pans from cooking tea. I could see there was no one in the kitchen before I’d crossed the threshold. As the door swung fully open, and I passed the handle, I could look to my right through into the unlit dining room, in which the lights from the kitchen were casting long shadows. It was then that I saw him…
There was an intruder IN my house!
He was stood in the dining room, turned half away from me so I could see his right side. Silhouetted in the street lights from the window behind him, he was wearing grey tracksuit bottoms, white trainers and a black hoodie, which was up, concealing his head completely from me. He had his head bowed and I could see his attention was fixed on my wife’s handbag. She often leaves it on the dining room table, along with her purse and mobile phone. His hands were in the hand bag, rifling through her belongings. If he hadn’t already, I felt sure he’d find her purse in a matter of moments.
He wasn’t a tall man, but to be honest that was quite irrelevant, a million years of evolutionary Fight or Flight instinct had already started to kick in. I’m honestly getting choked just re-living it now! Almost before my consciousness had taken it all in, my subconscious mind had already sent the alarm signal to my adrenal gland, which promptly dumped its load into my blood stream. The effect was virtually instantaneous.
I felt the adrenalin shoot down my arms and legs. Oxygen and glucose levels spiked, making my muscles strong and my brain alert. My body was instantly in full emergency mode. I know I’m a strong man, due to 6 months of Crossfit I’m in the best physical shape I’ve ever been in, but that was also irrelevant, the adrenalin had seen to that, I could feel the power coursing through my blood. This intruder was in my house. MY HOUSE! I was alone with my daughter upstairs in her pyjamas in bed, the defence of me and mine fell completely on my shoulders, and boy was I ready!
I had no idea who he was, or what he wanted, or what he was going to do, or whether he was armed, with a knife or even a gun. But in my mind I had already defenestrated this guy (thrown him through the window). He was leaving, by the fastest possible route. It was going to be easy: he was 5 metres away, from a standing start, at full acceleration I could close the gap between us in less than 2 seconds. The involuntary roar of my charge would startle him long enough for me to reach him before he could react. I knew in all honesty, that I couldn’t have kept it in. Already I could feel the guttural shout building in my stomach as my legs, reaching their full power, started to tense for the off.
I knew what I had to do, in the split second that had passed I’d visualised the entire encounter already. Once I reached him he was going to get grabbed.; left hand round his neck, right hand on his trousers. I wouldn’t stop, my momentum would help him break through the double glazing of the window he was standing in front of. He was a few metres away from it, and I’d need the time for 2 strides I’d get in, to bodily pick him off the floor and line him up horizontally with the window. Seriously, at no point did it occur to me that I couldn’t summon enough strength to force this guy through the two layers of reinforced glass!
I found myself starting to move, this was it, my daughter’s life could depend on what happen in the next 5 seconds! My life and my health didn’t matter, but whatever happened, this guy was going to be in no fit state to harm her. In a few moments he’d seriously regret picking this house.
He must have heard me, heard my intake of breath, or grunt, or move, or the kitchen door open, I don’t know, but as I started my first step towards him, he turned and I got to see the face of my adversary for the first time…. It was the wife!
OMG, the waves confusion and relief physically shook me, as I came thumping down from my high. “Oh, it’s you.” was all I could fumble to say, which didn’t do justice to how I was feeling right then.
“Why do you look so angry?” she asked. I would be in no fit state to answer that question for some time. “Eh? It’s nothing.” I said and turned and made my way back upstairs to finish the kid’s story. My body ached and complained. Some small matter of what to do with all this adrenalin that was still in my veins without its expected physical outlet, and the odd realisation that I’d been seconds away from throwing my wife out through the window.
In a strange coincidence, I had a 2nd similar adrenalin filled adventure that very night, when the kid’s hamster escaped at 4am, snuck into our bedroom, and startled the cat that was sleeping at the bottom of the bed. The ensuing bedlam taught me how my adrenal gland is also useful as an excellent alarm clock! But that’s another story.