Late that night, after I had tucked the baby wombat into its makeshift bed, I was awakened from my slumber by the insistent ringing of the telephone. Still groggy, I grabbed the bedside reading lamp and held it to my ear for several moments, before realizing my mistake.
“Hello?” I rasped, once I had replaced the lamp and snatched the phone from its cradle. My query was met by heavy breathing and then a scary voice whispered,
“Ya wanna buy a duck?”
I paused and thought a moment. Had he said duck? “Listen,” I said. “I realize you telemarketers have to make a living, but this is ridiculous. It’s three o’clock in the morning!”
The caller giggled and sang, “I knoooooooow! So how ‘bout it?”
“No, thank you,” I said. “I have all the ducks I need.”
“How ‘bout wombats?”
In the background, a scary piece of orchestral music began playing. And I shuddered. How had the caller known I had a wombat? Was it just a coincidence? No, that couldn’t be! Why would a telemarketer call me at three in the morning to ask if I owned a wombat? Ducks, yes. Wombats…no. It was too far-fetched.
“I have no need for another wombat,” I said. Immediately after the words left my mouth, I realized my mistake.
“Another?” the caller asked slyly. “Meaning you already own a wombat?”
“I…” Before I could respond, a dial tone sounded. The caller had hung up on me.
The scary music intensified and the shadows in my room seemed to deepen. My bedroom window was open just a bit and I heard the crunch of gravel from the driveway below. I crept from my bed and stealthed my way to the window, but by the time I got there, the driveway and yard were empty. As quickly as I could, I walked to my bedroom door and opened it.
The hallway was darker still, the blackness causing the normally innocent items of grandfather clock and wall mirror to take on ominous personas. I tried to remain calm, but just then I heard someone rattling the knob to the side door. Although thinking quickly, I couldn’t recall if I had locked that door before going to bed.
The squeaking of hinges answered my question. Chills ran up my spine, over the shoulders, and began strumming my clavicles. They were nervous, too. I didn’t blame them.
Remembering the gun in my dresser, I ran back into the bedroom and withdrew the weapon from its hiding place. I checked the load…empty! Hearing the sound of feet on the stairs, I knew I had but a few minutes. Running into the bathroom, I loaded the pistol and took up a defensive position behind the shower curtain.
To Be Continued...