I was reading downstairs on the couch when I heard the noise.

It wasn't a loud noise, and it wasn't one I could pinpoint right away. But as soon as I saw the hair raise on my dog's back, I knew something was wrong. Very wrong. I could feel it—the queer feeling resonating through the air, raising the hair on the back of my neck, and sending a shiver up my spine. I froze, my eyes still staring at my book, but no longer taking in the words.

Someone was in my house. I don't know if it was the occasional whisper of a sound that I heard, or the animalistic instinct that there was an intruder that convinced me of this fact, but I was as sure of it as I was that the world was round. It was no longer a feeling, it was a fact.

My biggest fear. Intrusion of my home while I was still in it. Fear whipped around inside of me, every few seconds my body was racked with a shudder of panicky heat, prickles spreading across my skin like fire. My dog was growling lowly. What should I do?

If I talk loudly and pretend I don't yet know they're here, will they get discouraged and leave? Or search for me and try to harm me? Possibly kill me? I didn't know. Glancing around and trying to keep calm, I looked for my phone. It's hanging up. I very carefully and quietly sit up, reaching over the end of the couch to pick it up. The noises upstairs are obvious now: someone is searching my room. I feel sick as I realize they've probably been hiding somewhere the entire time, until they thought my family had left . . . and he didn't know I was still here . . .

The phone slips out of my hand as I lift it up, clattering off of the end table and onto the wood floors. I cringe, my heart beat spiking. The noise upstairs stops abruptly.

They knew someone was here.

I heard them start coming down the stairs. Breathing quickly I threw my book down and grabbed the phone, already trying to dial 911 as I quietly made my into the computer room. I hunkered down underneath the desk, wiping my sweaty hands on my pants so I can dial. But my eyes kept tearing up, making it impossible to see. I heard a snarl and then a yip from my dog, which means the intruder is willing to hurt somebody. Just as I'm about to start, I hear the intruder in the same room, breathing heavily.

"I know you're in here . . ." He whispered, barely audible.

I whimper, unable to stop myself.

Quicker than I thought he would, he dove down in front of me, grinning maliciously. "Peek-a-boo." He said, his eyes glinting. He grabbed my foot, and I tried kicking at him as hard as I could. I managed to break free, and tried to crawl past him, forgetting about the phone. He grabbed me again, throwing me down on the floor. "Not so fast." He spat.

Unable to speak, I simply whimpered, over and over, tears pouring down my face. Desperately I tried to squirm away, trapped like a helpless animal in his strong grip. "Please," I finally managed, "Let me go! Take all you want, I won't tell the cops, I swear!"

"Yeah right!" He said, a note of hysteria in his voice. Something inside me told me there was something seriously disturbed with this man. He stopped breathing so heavily suddenly, looking at me strangely. "Of course you won't." He said quietly.

"Right!" I said, relief pouring into me. "So just . . . let me go?"

He shook his head slowly. "You won't tell them, because you won't be alive to do it."

Something in the way he said it disturbed me more than it already would have. Of course, the threat of death was enough to send me careening into desperate mode, but more than that, was the cold, analyzed way he said it. As if he were going to have fun with it first.

I tore my arms from his grasp, kicking him hard in the stomach. Leaping up, I tossed the kitchen stools down behind me, tearing down the hall. "Susie!" I cried, wondering where my dog was. I entered the living room, and nearly threw up. My dog was laying on the floor, her throat cut from ear to ear. I put it aside, and turned to unlock my side door.

For some reason, probably life's little joke on me, the door wasn't unlocking. All I had to do was turn the stupid latch and open the door, but the latch was stuck, not turning. Just as I managed to get it unlocked, something sliced into my back.

I gasped, looking down to see the tip of a knife protruding from my lower abdomen, to my right. Blood blossomed there like spilled ink. Ironic: my favorite color was red. Waves of darkness washed over my vision, threatening me with unconsciousness. I fought to stay lucid, falling to my knees with a choked sob. The knife was jerked out of my body roughly, sending another slicing pain through me. I clutched my stomach with one hand, trying to reach for the door. If I could just get it open, I could run away . . .

He grabbed my hair, wrenching me back from the door and onto the ground. He kicked me, right into my wound. I screamed in pain: I had never felt pain before this. I would have thrown up if I had had any food in my system. Instead, I dry heaved, and coughed up a bit of blood. I got to my knees again, whimpering. I tried crawling away, and managed to get to the other end of the living room. It only took the man a few lazy steps to catch me.

That's when I realized he was playing with me.

"HELP!" I screamed. "SOMEONE HELP!"

I rolled away from his reaching grasp, getting to my feet and running into the entry way, throwing the front door open . . .

Before I could scream again, he shoved me outside, pushing me so hard I tripped and rolled down the front steps, landing on my leg.

A crack resounded through the air, and I screamed louder than before. My leg was definitely broken. The pain was almost as bad as my stab wound, which was bleeding harder than ever. In two seconds the man had a hold of my good leg, dragging me across the dirt on my stomach. I clawed at the ground, searching for something to grab, anything at all. My hands found purchase on a rose bush, which was in full bloom this time of year. He wrenched me away from it with little effort, shredding my palms to a bloody mess as thorns tore through the skin.

I was crying so hard I was reduced to hiccups, unable to scream for help any longer. Every part of me knew that I was about to die. It didn't take the pain from my stab wound and my broken leg to tell me that much.

But that didn't mean I wanted to just give up. I squirmed. I wiggled. I clawed at the ground. I tried kicking at him. But nothing fazed him. I begged him to let me go, saying he could have the house if he wanted. He didn't say a word, but kept dragging me through my yard, and into the field behind my house. Once in a while I would slide over a rock or a stick, and it would stab into my wound, making me cry out.

By now I had lost my voice entirely. My throat was on fire. It would do no good anyway. Nobody lived close enough to hear me. Finally he stopped dragging me, coming to stop in the middle of the field. Glancing around as much as I could positioned the way I was, I saw a black van. So that's how he got here. He opened the big side door, and picked me up, throwing me into the van. At this point, I was limp. I had lost enough blood to make me near unconsciousness.

He climbed in next, shutting the door behind him. He lifted me up onto the seat in the middle, grabbing some rope from the floor and lashing me tightly to the chair. I vaguely noted that his face was beaded with sweat. Good. If I was going to die, I didn't want to make it easier for him.

God, I prayed. Please, don't let this hurt too much.

The man sat on the ground with a sigh, staring at me with a small, triumphant smile. "I bet you really hurt, don't you?" He asked with a giggle.

I didn't answer him. Couldn't, even if I had wanted to. Which I didn't. I took satisfaction in seeing him annoyed at this.

He sat up on his knees, punching me in the gut three times, until I was doubled over as much as I could when tied to the chair. "Answer me!"

Which , of course, I couldn't.

He narrowed his eyes, standing up and walking behind the seat, where I couldn't see him. My heart pounded with anticipation . . .

Suddenly a rope flung in front of me, and was quickly pulled around my neck, choking me. I coughed, trying to move my head around, but utterly unable to escape. I grew dizzy, and was going in and out of unconsciousness.

Just when I thought it was finally all over, he released the rope. I gasped in a rattling breath, my chest heaving uncontrollably.

"Now." He said from behind me. "Does it hurt?"

"Y-Yes!" I gasped. "It hurts . . . v-very . . . badly."

"Good." I could hear the satisfaction in his voice. I heard him coming back up front. When he was in front of me again, he turned to face me. "Now, I'm going to be right back. I'm just gonna finish what I started. Don't try to escape."

He opened the van door, and shut it, walking away.

I sat in silence, realizing that if I wanted to get away, this was my chance. But I was so tightly tied to my chair . . .

I began to wiggle downwards, trying to slip underneath the rope. Gradually I made my way down . . . Seconds turning into minutes . . .

I slipped out, my hands sweaty with the effort. I quickly threw the door open, jumping out, forgetting about my leg.

I stifled a scream, and turned to shut the door, as quietly as I could. It would be best for him to not know I was gone until he labored to get into the van. It would give me more time.

I limped as fast as I could, sobbing hysterically, as I made my way through the field and into the woods. There was a house, if I could just make it through the woods . . .

I looked behind me to see the man entering the field. Fear gripped my heart, and I tried to run. It was merely a faster limp . . . I could barely touch my broken leg's foot to the ground.

He looked up, and saw me.

He took off running towards me, full speed. And he was fast. My sobs intensified, and I managed somehow to pick up my pace even further.

I could hear him behind me now. But I could also see the woods starting to thin, and the faint outline of a house through the trees. I was almost there. I could do this. I could make it.

At least, I could until I tripped over the root.

I slammed into the ground before I could fully understand what was happening. Desperate, I dragged myself forward, trying in vain to scream for help. To utter even the slightest sound above a whimper. I was too close to die now . . .

I clawed myself out of the last part of the woods, now in the neighbor's yard.

With a silent scream I was wrenched backward by my foot, being dragged quickly in the opposite direction. I tried harder than ever to grab onto a root, anything. My hands started to slip over the very root I tripped over, and finally I managed to grab it, holding on with all of my might.

He was unable to wrench me from it. With a frustrated sigh, he knelt down, and before I could roll away, he rolled me over himself, stabbing me in the stomach again.

I gasped, curling forward into a fetal position. He stabbed me again. And again.

And again.

Until I was limp. I turned over slightly and coughed up a large amount of blood. He had hit my lung. Probably other important organs, too.

"Does it hurt?" He asked again.

I nodded, sending a flash of blinding light across my vision, which was turning glassy, and unreal looking. I felt cold. My body was racked with shivers.

He stabbed me again, this time twisting the knife. I gasped again, lunging forward unwillingly, and falling back to the ground with a soft thump. "I can't hear you." He said through clenched teeth.

"Y-Y . . . Y-Y . . ." I desperately tried to say yes, but the twisting was too painful. My jaw locked from the sheer intensity of it.

Then, my body started going numb. I no longer felt anything at all. A peace settled over me, and my body unclenched, relaxed. As the darkness started to wash over me completely, I sighed with relief, "No."

The last thing I saw was his outraged face, and the knife coming towards me again. But it didn't hurt.

Not anymore.