As I lay in bed, reading a semi-alarming tale about ghosts, the dog began barking.
"Stupid dog. Shut up!"
My child had just fallen asleep.
The windows were all dark in our tiny house, save the slit visible through the living room curtains. The lone street light shone there as I dragged myself out of bed to check on the toddler.
The dog still barked as the cat jumped onto the freezer near the back door.
"God, leave her alone you idiot!" I said.
Then I realized, the dog was not barking at the cat. His gaze was fixed on the back door.
Quickly, I threw the deadbolt and shut the curtain.
I ran to the front door and set that lock too, flicking the switch for the front lights.
The yard illuminated with white light, but my heart still pounded.
I shut all the windows, not that it would do any good. None had locks.
I shut my child's door, just in case and for peace of mind, perhaps.
The dog stayed at the back door, growling.
I set the house ablaze with lights and went back to reading.
The dog soon trotted back to the bedroom and hopped up on the bed to lay next to me.
Every small noise had him growling.
Then a very large bang at the back door had him wild.
Amid barking and snarling, my child screaming and the ax-wielding stranger in my kitchen, my instincts went straight for the gun.
The 30.06 rifle my husband usually used for hunting was propped next to the bedroom door, where I stood frozen. The man held the ax near his chest, breathing heavily.
With no more than a few steps and a snarling medium-sized dog in the way, I gambled on grabbing the always-loaded gun.
I popped off two rounds straight at the man's chest as the dog sunk his teeth into an ankle.
The intruder fell with a thundering crash, smacking into the table, a bureau and the couch on his way down.
Blood spattered everywhere, I shot the man in the head for good measure. I refused to have the bastard get back up and attack again.
The dog's mouth was even bloody where he'd torn into the man's leg.
My child's cries increased as I picked up the ax and calmly set it in the front entryway, just off the living room.
I grabbed my phone, dialed 911 and went to hug my child tightly until help arrived.
The dog sat by the body, occasionally growling, warning it to stay still.