500 sq ft.

I’m trapped in my apartment.

When I woke up the other morning and tried to make my way to work, I found the front door impassable. It wasn’t locked. It wasn’t bolted shut. It had simply ceased to be a door. The handle was there and would turn and I could hear the pieces moving within the lockset, but it would not budge. It was like a wall.

The door to my balcony was the same, and all the windows were sealed shut. I couldn’t even get a fingernail into the cracks of them.

Outside, rain fell, but the streets are empty, deserted. There wasn’t a soul to be seen. No traffic. Not a bird in the grey sky.

It’s been four weeks now. There’s new food in my fridge each day I open it. The plumbing and lighting and TV still work, thank God, otherwise I’d have gone out of my mind. But I’m trapped. Something is different, something has fundamentally changed. And what terrifies me is not that I am trapped, but that perhaps one day I’ll die in here without ever having found out why.

26 Bricks

There’s a hole in the wall in the basement, an unfinished hole, beckoning black and empty where the brickwork isn’t complete.

Sometimes I have people over for tea and if they come down there for whatever reason – for me to show them the wine cellar, my collection of pickles, or how my microbrew is doing – they’ll ask about the hole in the wall. Ah, that hole’s stiil there, eh, Marv? When are you going to fill that thing in already? Seems like it’s been years.

It has been years. Years the bricks have sat next to that hole in the wall, sometimes in a red pile all alone, sometimes with a trowel and leftover bucket of mortar keeping them company.

No one ever seems to notice, but I am filling it in, brick by brick. Because they say if you commit a crime, after 25 years you’ve gotten away with it. And the funny thing is no one ever seems to ask why the hole is in the wall in the first place.

One brick per year. One brick for every finger on her hands, one brick for every toe on her feet, one for each eye and ear and her nose and mouth.

Three more years to go. I think I’ll save her mouth for last.

Crows

We should have stayed in the house. Julia and I are huddled amongst the rows of hanging plastic trays of flowers in the greenhouse, shivering in the humid air from our brief exposure to the howling wind and rain of the outside. The banging on the thick glass panels continues without relent, over and over.

“I’m scared Daddy, I’m scared!” Julia cries, draped beneath the gray blanket around her shoulders. Her little face is red and wet with the rain and her tears.

“I know, honey, I know. It’ll be okay.” This is one of those times a parent fears, a time where as a parent I can’t tell her that I’m scared too. That I’m not sure it will be okay. That I don’t know what to do.

“What do they want, Daddy? Why are they doing this?” She looks up at me from beneath her blond curls.

“I don’t know, baby, I really don’t. Just be brave, okay?”

She’d found a crow behind the barn. Cawing pitifully, it had hobbled on one bad leg and hopped lop-sidedly around in a circle in the grass. It looked like its wing had been broken too.

“Aww, Daddy look!” she’d said, after calling me over. “Can we keep him?” Her eyes had been full of pity.
“Okay, we can keep him in the barn.” I splinted the poor bird’s leg as best I could manage and Julia had a new pet.

Two days later I found my little girl on the ground between the house and the barn, crying, the bird she’d saved and two others pecking her viciously, blood pouring from her face and arms. I ran and shooed the savage creatures away and they flew off into the grey sky. I guess the crow’s wing hadn’t been broken after all?

After that I saw them and many others watching: from atop the barn, sitting on the hydro wires between the house and the road, on the eavestroughs of the house. They were waiting. Waiting for the right moment. And when tonight’s storm had kicked up and knocked out the power they’d had it. We should have stayed in the house. We should have stayed in the house. But they’d broken in through the windows, hundreds of them, and we’d ran, out into the yard in a panic, past the barn and into the greenhouse. How I had the presence of mind to grab the gun I’ll never know.

“I’m scared, Daddy, I’m scared!” Julia cries again. “Shhh, shhh, shhhh,” I say, trying to console her. “It’s okay, baby, I’ll protect you.”

I’ve never been more terrified in my life. The fluttering and the cawing and the banging is so loud it’s like one animal, one monster coming out of the night for us. And now the banging on the panels is joined by the sounds of breaking glass.

I only have two shells.