Something was very wrong. A chill crept over me as I stood, staring at the strange way the light refracted through the glass…the broken glass of a locked door, in the building where I stood alone. Or did I? My heart started pounding as I realized that the break in had occurred recently, within the two hours or so since I had last stood here – which meant those responsible might still be inside.
Adrenaline was suddenly racing through my veins. The first thought running through my head: call my husband, who was next door, and pray my phone could get in a signal in the huge metal building – at least if someone hit me over the head, he would know I was there. My second thought – get out. The only problem was that every door required a key to unlock it from the inside, a key I didn’t have. There were only two ways out for me, and both were on the other side of the building. I made a mad dash for the one I had come in through, fear pulsing through my body.
It was a terrifying experience, especially as I raced back out the way I’d come, now seeing the evidence of a break in that I had overlooked – the overturned boxes, the open doors that should have been closed, the lights turned on. My husband was already in the parking lot, running to meet me as he called 911. We were both shaken.
The police came quickly, and caught the would-be burglar, empty-handed and still on the property. He was arrested – so high the police said he’d probably never even remember the events of that afternoon. The police later found out that I was the one who scared him off – he was in the building as I entered, but ran when he heard me, hiding on the property until his arrest.
He may not remember, but I will never forget. I’m really good at playing “what if” – a talent that comes in pretty handy when you want to write mysteries, but no so great when you face a terrifying experience. I’ve played the game a thousand times since that day, thinking through all the nightmares that could have come true. Even though it happened more than five years ago, I still remember every time I go into that building.
That single event, spanning just a few minutes on an otherwise normal day, changed me. I’m much more cautious now and aware of my surroundings at all times. I have a concealed handgun license and routinely carry my gun (a Sig Sauer, in case you’re wondering). I’m never without my cell phone. I even went through our entire house once, gun up and ready – yes, just like they do on TV – when I came home from work to find an empty house and the back door standing open. (Thankfully, that time my kids had just forgotten to check the back door before they left…no burglar.) And every time I think of it – even after five years – it still gives me chills.