Derek brought the car to a halt in front of a rundown house. The grass was higher than Derek’s knees; but not high enough to cover the rusted car parts on the lawn. The graffiti was so thick that the only transparent windows were the ones that had been broken out of the pane. One side of the house was drooping so badly that it looked like a loaf of bread that had had one end soaked in petrol.
Derek got out of the car; making sure to engage every anti theft device, and he joined Laurie in looking at the house from the outside.
“Look at this place” said Laurie, “There’s no way that anyone lives here.”
“Could be a squatter” said Derek
“No way,” said Laurie, “A squatter would never let their home get like this; someone might evict them.”
They watched the house in silence.
Derek was suddenly aware that he was standing out in the open in a high crime district; he had a sudden desire to be somewhere else and preferably sleeping. “Whatever,” he said, “A house wouldn’t get that bad on its own” and he started walking towards the front door.
Derek reached out for the door handle, but then realized how utterly unnecessary that was. He waited until Laurie joined him and said, “Give me a boost.”
Laurie got her hands under one of his feet and lifted him through a window. Derek saw that someone had picked away all the glass at the bottom of the pane; he clearly wasn’t the first one to enter through this route.
Derek helped Laurie up through the window as well and took one last look at the street; it was deserted apart from a hobo passed out under at street light; and he looked like he wouldn’t have the motor skills necessary to steal a car.
He turned and started to walk into the room; but Laurie caught his arm. “There’s something wrong” she said.
Derek didn’t think it was necessary to point that out; he was picking his way through several feet of detritus and the whole house smell of rotting food; in his younger days it would have turned his stomach.
Derek was about to start walking into the house again, but then something stopped him. Laurie was right; there was something wrong here; he didn’t feel like an intruder in the house, it felt like he was expected. It felt like the house was watching them.
“What is it?” he whispered to Laurie; cursing himself for not catching on fast enough.
“The rubbish on the ground” said Laurie, “There’s a path where it’s not as thick as it should be; it leads out of the room.”
Old instinct informed Derek, “What crosses the path?” he asked
Laurie was silent for a moment. “Some sort of line” she said, “It’s thin like wire. I can’t see where it leads”
Derek nodded, “Back out the window,” he said, “We’ll storm through the back.”
They climbed back out of the window and walked around the house, staring in windows as they went. When they had made a complete circuit of the house, Laurie turned to Derek and said, “I didn’t see anyone in there.”
Derek nodded, “Could you see properly through the bedroom window?” he asked.
Laurie shook her head.
“Right” said Derek; he wasn’t liking the way this mission was going and he wished he had been able to pick up a new gun at the office. “Let’s smash through that one. How much ammo do you have?”
Laurie took a look at her gun, “Two crystals” she said apologetically.
“Get some more when we get back to the office” said Derek; who was already walking to the back of the house. He hated when his job made him put himself in danger like this, and he was trying to get it over with.
Laurie joined him outside the window. “How are we going to get in?” she asked.
Derek fished around in the grass, and hefted up something that looked like it had once belonged to a transmission system.
Laurie saw the thing and smiled her idiot grin, “Let’s do it” she said.
Derek willed his arms to become loose and started swinging them backward and forwards under their own weight and the weight of the car part. The arc he was swinging in got bigger and bigger until it suddenly became a complete circle.
He looped his arms around his head three times; the first was to build up momentum, the second sent the car part through the window, and the third sent Laurie soaring, gun in hand, through the open gap.