My neighbour, Cranford, and his dog, Kiev, have never been the most amiable pair. And when I say never, what I mean is that on the day I moved into this house – eleven years ago – I caught them pouring petrol through my letterbox. Their behaviour has only escalated since.
After two years of living beside the nefarious duo, I had experienced all manner of life-threatening situations. I awoke one morning to the sound of sharpening knives and their reassurances that everything was going according to plan, but I shooed them out of my bedroom with haste. On another occasion, they hired a demolition crew to fit my house with controlled explosives. The only reason that I noticed was because the countdown to detonation – for whatever reason – had begun at forty-two and I could hear the monotonous droning of it over the sound of my television. Just before the second anniversary of my moving in, they sent over a cake, inside of which were a concealed ambush of Black Widows. Thankfully – from the perspective of my wellbeing, anyway – they had all suffocated and I lived another day.
These incidents are relatively tame compared to their most recent attempts against my life, and just as they have improved on their strategies and tactics, I have had to do the same. I now have an invisible perimeter fence that, when breached, employs the use of highly-focused heat-seeking lasers to provide secondary protection. Inside, I have a Home Alone-style set up that even Kevin McAllister would find impressive. As a fail-safe, should they trigger the pressure-sensitive plates that surround my bed, I have a system which releases a gaseous nerve agent which I developed myself and is also the reason why I always sleep with a gas mask on.
I fear that I have now contracted whatever paranoia it is that drives them to such lengths, but how could I not when my life is in such clear and constant danger? I often wonder what life will be like once they move or pass on, for they are not the youngest pair. Will I ever be able to sleep without this mask again? Will I be able to forget how to conceal an explosive within a jack-in-the-box? Will I be able to walk through my own home without tiptoeing and sidestepping around razor-sharp pendulums, false floorboards, booby-trapped doors, and falling tins of paint?
However, these are questions for another time and only serve as philosophical musings, at present. I must away to continue my digging beneath Cranford and Kiev’s house, undermining the structural integrity of their abode will undermine the structural integrity of their willpower. Forgive my evil cackle, it is still in its infancy.
Sean Cunningham is a writer of stuff and things, from Liverpool, whose flash fiction has appeared in Bending Genres, Gone Lawn, FIVE:2:ONE’s #thesideshow , Tiny Flames Press, the Eastern Iowa Review, and elsewhere. Find him on Twitter.