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Terror in the Neighborhood
by April Aasheim

“They’re coming!” Sam yelled from his station at the blinds. Sam had been sitting there all morning. Waiting. “Positions everyone.”

“Do we have to do this again?” His son Billie asked. “I’m so tired, daddy. Maybe we should…”

“This is not a drill!” Sam snapped. “Now get upstairs and hide under your bed.”

Sam exchanged glances with his wife Cindy as the sound of weighted footsteps made their way towards their front door. “No matter what happens, I love you.” He pushed his wife into the den. “Now be still. Don’t even breathe.” Cindy nodded and obeyed.

Knock. Knock. Knock. Slow, heavy pounds erupted on the door. Sam could feel his heart racing. “Why won’t these bastards give us any peace?” He whispered, reaching for Cindy’s hand.

“Sam…” Cindy said, trembling. For a moment Sam felt selfish involving his family like this. But they were all in it together now, and it was his duty to protect them. He listened intently. The intruders were leaving.

“We haven’t fooled them.” Sam said, emerging from his trench. “They know we are home. And they will wait.” Sam’s wife and son slid out of their hiding spots and joined him in the main room.

“That was close,” Billie said, peeking out the window. “Daddy, I’m scared.”

Sam cradled his face in his hands. “We can’t hide forever. They will catch us...someday.”

“They watch me when I go to school, daddy. Once, they even chased me.”

Sam looked up, white-faced. “But, that’s against the law!”

Cindy opened the front door and removed a piece of paper. Their house had been marked. “Honey, in case you haven’t figured it out...these people are the law.” Cindy dropped the paper onto the coffee table. “Maybe it’s time we move on. We’re on the run, Sam. We can’t raise a boy like this.”

Sam stumbled to the sofa and plopped down. “I just don’t know what to do.”

“I’ve got an idea,” Billie said, looking down at his feet. “We could just… mow our lawn.”

Sam looked at his son, horror-struck. “But where does it end? We mow the lawn today. Maybe even clean up the oil spills on the driveway and pick up the dog poop in the front yard. Then what? Maybe next they will expect you to clean your room.”

Billy’s knees shook and Cindy went to him. “It will be alright.” She said, stroking her son’s hair. “Mama won’t let them get you.”

“Maybe we should go.” Sam said reading the note on the coffee table.

Twenty-Five Dollar Fine: Weeds

The fourth notice they had gotten in a week.

“We must stay,” Cindy said, looking at her husband. “Without us, our neighbors are doomed.”

Sam sighed. “You’re right. Someone has to have the worst house in the cul-de-sac.” Sam brightened. “Maybe we should really fight the power. Leave our Christmas lights up until August this year!”

Cindy leaned down to give her husband a kiss. “Now that’s the man I married. We’ll do this…together.”