The moon glowed in the night sky and star blinked back a reply. A single square of light shone through the window of a lonely house beside the black lake. Laughter and soft voices trailed through the window echoing in the night air.
A child of three years rushed past the window, her shadow painted across the dry grass outside. She ran to the cupboard in the corner of the room and opened the door, glancing back over her shoulder before smiling and climbing inside.
Her father paced the room with his mobile to his ear, talking in quick, quiet words. Her mother walked into the room silently smiling at her husband. Her eyes swept the room as she glided swiftly around, lifting pillows and blankets as she searched for her daughter.
Neither of them noticed the van that pulled up in the driveway or saw the dark figures approach the house, stealthily silent. They never expected the door to be broken down and the figures dresses in dark clothes and ski masks to rush inside, guns in hands.
The Husband fell first and the child cried out in shock, but the cry from her mother drowned out her scream. His phone clattered to the ground beside the cupboard, blood seeping through his light blue business shirt.
The Mother jumped over the coffee table in the middle of the room and lunged for something on the couch. Her hand slipped under the pillow and returned with a shiny black gun. She whirled on the attacking men and let off two shots before she too fell beside her Husband.
Her eyes searched the room and settled on the small white cupboard the child hid inside, mouthing something no one could understand. Her hand reached out and wrapped around her husband’s, squeezing it tightly before her eyes found the cupboard again and she smiled.
The child inside the cupboard pressed her hand against the door but she didn’t move to exit. The men were searching the room now, checking under pillows and behind the couch, through desk draws and DVD covers. A tall man, without a mask walked into the room, gun in hand. He surveyed the room, eyes passing over the cupboard a number of times before he called to the men and they all left the room.
The child in the cupboard didn’t care that they had left, she had eyes only for the woman and the man on the ground who had been murdered before her eyes. She tried to scream, to call out their names and to move but no words came out and she was frozen.
Her mother was still looking into the cupboard and the child realised that her mother knew she was there.
“I love you” the mother whispered as the light seeped from her eyes and she took her last ragged breath.