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I always knew there were different worlds alongside my own: places of angels or demons. But this feeling went away over time. It had long gone by the time I turned twenty and struggled home from work on the bus – with two tote bags of groceries and a pair of platform sandals rubbing blisters on my heels – only to find an intruder in my apartment.
My keys jingled in the lock. I nudged the door open with my knee. The tote bags slipped from my hands and thudded to the threadbare carpet. The smell of bruised celery wafted up. My stuff lay strewn all over the place: paperbacks, clothes, cosmetics, jewelry, shoes, dolls, shot-glasses from my state-by-state collection, and glossy fashion magazines. Someone had overturned the crappy couch I’d bought for five bucks at a yard sale. I let out a little scream and groped for my cell phone clipped to my belt.
Then I saw the symbols glowing everywhere. They looked like runes made of red light.
A huge one glowed from the depths of my hall mirror. Smaller ones shifted over the dusty planes of the sliding glass doors that led to the balcony. Many jumbles of letters lay across the mess of stuff covering my carpet. The runes looked like Phoenician or something – not that I would know. My cell phone slipped from my hand. I shrank away as a rune lifted from the near wall and drifted towards me.
Then a shadow moved at the corner of my eye. Instinct made me jump forward.
Someone slammed my apartment door. I stood trapped inside, facing a bulky shape over my spilled groceries.
He looked like a big man, over six feet tall. But then he also looked like a shadow-wrapped slab of stone. I couldn’t get my eyes to focus on him. He lunged for me, and I ran for the kitchen. My fright-stiff hands pawed at the drawer by the sink. The butcher knives inside rattled.
A thick hand closed over my shoulder – and several things happened at once. Ice-cold raced down my left arm. My vision shorted out into black-and-white. He spun me around to face him, and I slammed my right palm up under his chin. I’d always thought I’d scream and run in a crisis.
But I attacked him, and he staggered. Again my hands moved apart from my brain. I smashed him again under the chin. His head shot back, and he fell. Suddenly I could see in color again. The intruder lay at my feet, his neck twisted at an unnatural angle.
I started shaking so hard I couldn’t stand up. I gripped the counter and shimmied past him. He wasn’t breathing. He looked dead. I lifted my gaze across the wreckage of my apartment to the closed door. My tote bags sagged against the wall. A milk carton had burst, soaking my carpet. I looked back at the intruder. I still couldn’t get my eyes to focus on him. It felt like looking through smoke; my eyes began to water.
I heard own voice whispering: "Oh, my God. Mi Dios. Madre del Dios! I’m in trouble. I’m in trouble."
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