In the Dead of Night: Take I
It was late. Around three in the morning. She should have gone to bed hours ago. Instead, Dara had stayed up watching – The Shining, of all movies.
Home alone, in the dead of night, one should not be watching horror films. The house was dark and creaked as it settled in the nighttime. She chided herself for being spooked. She wasn’t a child anymore; there was no reason to be afraid of shadows or weird noises. She’d made sure the house was locked up tight. And the boogeyman was not hiding in her closet.
To prove to herself that she had nothing to fear, Dara didn’t bother to turn on the lights when she reached her bedroom. Habit and the faint glow of the streetlight that seeped into the room guided her. She slipped into pajamas and turned to check the windows one more time.
The silhouette of a man framed the window. Dara’s eyes widened, and as she stared she realized he was straddling the sill. Even as she looked, he swung his leg over. His movements were fluid and sure. She stood so close, that she could have reached out and tipped him out the window. Instead, Dara watched as he stood and straightened his clothes. He was dressed all in black down to a pair of black gloves, matching his inky, dark hair and piercing eyes. She shivered, and not from the cold.
Though she would have liked to ask the intruder what the hell was going on, she found that none of the billion thoughts and half-formed sentences that were buzzing around her head could get past her lips.
The man’s eyes flicked over her briefly before roaming around her bedroom. She was suddenly painfully aware of her bra dangling off the dresser.
“You weren’t supposed to be home.” The intruder’s voice sounded surprisingly normal. He could have been her mailman, commenting on the weather.
Mutely, Dara shook her head.
The man’s hand shot out, and Dara crumbled to the ground.
In the Dead of Night: Take II
Dara felt her way upstairs through the dark. She winced as the stairs groaned under her weight, afraid she would wake someone up. Then she remembered she was the only one home. Her eyes landed on the glowing numbers of the clock as she passed it, and she suppressed a sigh. Three o’clock – it was three o’clock! – where was her self control? She did not need to watch that episode of Glee OR the one after that. Tomorrow, she vowed, she would go to bed on time. Early, even!
With that declaration in mind, Dara decided she would forego her usual nighttime routine. Morning was only a few hours away and she’d brush her teeth then. Satisfied, she quickly changed into PJs, went to close the window – wait, the window was open? Why was the window open? She’d left it closed…hadn’t she?
She strode over and slid it shut.
At least, that was the plan.
But when she got to the window, she froze. Leaning against it was a ladder, and leaning on the ladder was a man. Mostly a man. He was more like a man-boy.
“Hello,” said the man-boy.
Dara gave a tiny shriek and shooed him away as if he were a bug. His ladder fell back but, with a yelp, he grabbed hold of her.
Ordinarily, Dara wouldn’t be able to withstand the weight of a mostly-grown man. But this was not an ordinary encounter.
She jerked backward and the man-boy used her momentum to scrabble up the wall and into the room after her. Or rather, on top of her.
“Get off, get off, get off!” Dara whispered fiercely. They were communicating in whispers, as people are wont to do in the dead of night. Never mind there was no one else home to wake up.
“What? Oh, yeah, sorry.” The intruder eased off her and seemed to be embarrassed at the state of affairs.
He looked ‘round the room, while Dara looked ‘round him. He appeared to be about her age. He was dressed in a black, fitted t-shirt, black jeans, and black gloves. His hair, too, was black, and at the moment decidedly disheveled.
“You’re cute,” accused Dara.
He looked back to her. “Well, no need to sound so upset about it.”
“Upset? I have every right to be upset! You broke into my house!”
The intruder raised his brows. “Yes, but you didn’t accuse me of breaking into your house – you accused me of being cute. Just so I understand, you’re okay with the fact that you found me outside your bedroom window, and that I’m now inside your house, but you’re not okay with the fact that I’m cute?”
“I – “
“Besides,” he continued, “I think you’ll find that I haven’t, in fact, broken in. You came to my aid as I was falling and helped me into your house. So thanks.”
“Spin it however you want, intruder boy, but it’s late and I want to go to sleep. So why don’t you just leave?”
“Leave?” The intruder looked genuinely shocked. “And why should I do that? It’s a beautiful night. You’re a beautiful girl. We’ve already decided that I’m cute, so what’s wrong?”
“You. You’re wrong. You’re a thief. And real thieves aren’t supposed to be cute. Or charming. That’s just Hollywood’s wishful thinking. You’re supposed to be ugly and devoid of humor.”
“That’s good. Just keep telling yourself I’m not real then.”
“Aha – So you admit you’re a thief!”
He raised his hands. “Okay, I’m a thief. What say I’ll just grab a few stuff and leave you to your beauty sleep?”
Now it was Dara’s turn to look shocked. “Grab a few stuff? No, no, you can’t.”
“I…can’t? I thought you’d figured everything out – I’m a housebreaking thief, remember? This is what I do.”
Dara’s hand inched towards her phone. “I – I’ll call the police!” she threatened.
He was by her side instantly and plucked her phone out of reach. He shook his head.
Dara stamped her foot and folded her arms. “You. Are. So. Annoying!”
The thief flashed her a smile. “Do I fit your profile better now?”
“Just a bit.”
“Well, then, let me help you a bit more.” With that, he knocked her over the head.
Dara crumpled in his arms.