“We have to do something!” Karen said,
“Like what? Leave? Where would we go?” Brett answered.
Karen climbed up off the floor and rushed from window to window looking for any sign of the man with the shotgun. “Are you just going to sit there with a stolen rabbit?!”
“We could just give it back,” Brett said.
“So let me get this straight, your plan is to just go back and knock on the door? He shot at us! I think we are well past an apology.”
“You have any better ideas?”
Karen began unconsciously rubbing her shoulder. Wincing as she found a tender spot, she craned her neck to see what was wrong.
“What is it? Let me see.” Brett said as he stood up.
“It looks like something snagged your shirt,” he said, looking into the torn fabric. “I think it’s buckshot.”
Karen pulled away angrily, “He shot me! Actually shot me! Are you kidding?!”
“I don’t think it’s serious, looks like just one or two BBs.”
“Just one or two?! I’ve been rolled off a mountain, struck by lightning, nearly drowned and now shot?!” Karen’s voice was rising.
“Don’t forget about the bear from earli…Shhh, what was that?” Brett shushed her in the middle of his own sentence. Karen pursed her lips to silence her anger.
“I don’t see anything. It’s going to get dark soon. We need to prepare.” Brett announced.
“We need to do something to keep him out.”
“Like what, lock the door? Train your attack rabbit?” Karen seethed.
Brett gazed at the white bunny in his arms and then offered a tired look at his girlfriend.
“Look, I was wrong. Maybe I shouldn’t have taken the rabbit but if it’ll make you feel better, we can keep it alive just in case.”
“In case what? Psycho breaks in and wants it back? I doubt holding the rabbit as a living hostage is going to help.”
“You’re right, let’s move forward and accept where we are. I think we need to prepare to make a stand. There is nowhere else to run to tonight anyway.”
“Okay, as long as you don’t do anything else crazy.” Karen took a deep breath.
Brett paused a moment and got that look in his eye like he had an idea.
“What? Karen asked.
“It’s going to sound crazy.”
“What is it?” Karen was becoming very skeptical.
“I saw this movie where a group of hikers was being hunted by a cult deep in the mountains. They broke into an abandoned cabin and hatched a plan to defend themselves by setting up traps and stuff to scare off the cult freaks.”
“A movie… that’s your plan?” Karen asked
“…and I learned a couple of things about setting up a defensive position in the army,” Brett added.
Karen anxiously rubbed her forehead for a long moment then gave in. “Fine, what do we need to do? Wait, first, at least tell me the hikers made it out alive.”
Brett paused. “Well, one of them did. The rest were systematically captu… never mind, we have things to do.” Brett trailed off and began checking all the windows and doors.
Karen shook her head angrily and helped with securing the cabin.
“OK, let’s put furniture against the openings, and then we can work to expand our perimeter outside. We need to think of our position sort of like an onion. We need layers of protection.” Brett said with renewed focus.
“So Shrek, how do we do that? Karen asked.
“First, we identify our perimeter. The inside of the cabin is our castle, we can’t let anyone in no matter what. We need to have something to fight with, in case he gets inside.”
Karen walked over to the back door and located the pointy stick that she dropped when they ran back in. “I have a stick.” She announced with more than a little sarcasm.
“O…okay, that’s a start.” Brett stammered. “We need to go outside and see if there is anything to work with. Maybe there’s an outbuilding with some sharp tools or something.”
“I’ve seen that movie. It doesn’t end well for them either.” It was Karen’s turn to predict the future.
Brett ignored her gloomy comment and stepped carefully out the door, “Follow me, and stay close.”
The couple cautiously moved around the property looking for anything useful. “Is that a shed?” Brett asked in the dimming light. They kept walking until they approached a little wooden building.
Brett tentatively lifted the old board that acted as a latch and eased the door open. The small building wasn’t much larger than the old riding mower parked inside. The couple made their way into the shed and squeezed past the mower to an old workbench covered in a clumsy array of yard and home maintenance tools.
Brett reached into the pile of tools and with a scraping sound of hard steel withdrew an old machete. “This is a good start.”
Karen eyed an old wicker creel fishing basket and opened the lid.
“What’cha got there?” Brett asked.
“Looks like an old tackle box, just a bunch of fishing line.”
“Let me see.” Brett stuck his hand in the basket and winced in pain. He knew better than to yank his hand out too quickly when he realized he just encountered a trotline full of fishing hooks.
“That’s good, hold onto this.” He said handing the creel to a confused Karen.
“You want to go fishing?”
“Sort of, we’re going to string this up in the trees. The hooks will either snag him and slow him down or if he sees them he may think we’re not worth the trouble. Besides, if we tie something that makes noise, like an old can with pebbles, to the line we’ll hear it like an alarm.” Brett explained.
“Uh-huh, okay,” Karen said.
“Nice,” Brett said, continuing his scavenging. “Look, a roll of barbed wire. Grab those old gloves and let’s go.”
“Wait, what’s the plan?” Karen asked.
“There is some thick brush around the cabin and there are some open areas that are almost like trails that lead out into the woods. My guess is, if he’s coming it would most likely be from over there.” Brett gestured towards the neighbor’s house. “The thick brush should channel him toward the open areas, which helps us. All we have to do is wrap the barbed wire around the trees and brush, about ankle-high, kinda like a spider web in the tall grass. This will slow anyone down, especially if they are running.”
“And we are going to string the fishing hooks in the trees in the same places?” Karen asked.
“More or less, yes. Then once we have it all strung up we can hang some noisemakers on the lines. Anyone who gets snagged on the line will jiggle the alarms.” Brett answered.
“Then what?” Karen wasn’t sure she wanted an answer but asked anyway.
Taking a long pause, Brett thought for a moment. “I guess that depends on him.”
Brett slid the machete into his belt and the couple set off to work on their plan. They took turns watching over each other as they placed the tanglefoot and strung the trotline in a web.
“Only thing left is the noisemakers. I saw a bag of old beer cans next to the shed, see if you can find some small rocks or anything we can use to make the alarms.” Brett hurried back to the shed for the cans. Karen remembered seeing pea rock in one of the planters on the porch and made her way towards the cabin.
When she arrived on the porch, the hair on the back of her neck stood up. “The driveway!”
In their haste, the couple had overlooked the biggest avenue of approach. She grabbed a handful of the small gravel from the container and started to rush back to Brett to tell him when she thought she saw movement. Karen froze in her tracks trying to decide if she was imagining things. Her eyes darted back to the spot but her stare only revealed darkness in the backdrop of the trees. Suddenly, a man stepped from the shadows, and he was aiming a long black barrel directly at her. Karen had barely taken a step in retreat when the first blast rang out.
Brett was returning from the shed with an armful of old metal cans when he heard the telltale sound of a shotgun and Karen’s panicked scream. He dropped the cans and drew the machete on the run.
“This way!” Brett called to his girlfriend, “Forget the cabin!”
Another blast from the shotgun rang out as the couple ran for cover in the woods.
“Watch out for the traps, this way!” Brett said as they ran into the trees.
Karen tripped over a log and fell to the ground bringing Brett down with her. The man with the shotgun realized the couple was headed back towards his home and panicked. His panic caused him to abandon all caution as he tried to reload the 12 gauge on the run. Unaware of the barbed wire webbed over the ground, his left ankle found the wire first and his speed launched him brutally into the steel web. The man landed uncomfortably close to the couple, racked in pain, and still trying to understand what happened. He immediately noticed Brett and Karen almost within arm’s reach. Unable to grab them he reached for the shotgun and swung the barrel towards the first target in the arc, pointing it right at Karen. His finger tensed against the trigger. Brett was already in motion using the machete to extend his reach. The squeeze of the trigger was not followed by a devastating blast, rather the hammer fell on an empty chamber.
Brett rushed to swing the machete but hearing the malfunction pulled it at the last moment, slamming the large blade into the barrel, driving the gun into the dirt.
The attacker had flinched at the incoming machete as he awaited the inevitable impact and certain death. After what felt like an eternity he cautiously opened his eyes when he realized Brett’s attack had halted. Seeing each other’s interest in fighting wane, they dropped their weapons in exhaustion.
“I’m sorry I took your rabbit, we were hungry and not thinking straight,” Brett said between heavy breaths.
“You could’ve just asked. I thought you were from that gang up on the ridge. They been harassing me for a week now. Threatening to burn my place down and take all my stuff.”
Karen shot her boyfriend an I told you so look that he pretended to ignore. Instead, he extended a hand to the man groaning in pain from falling into the sharp wire. “I’m Brett and this is Karen.”
The man returned the handshake, “Joe. Sorry for shooting at you.”