It was a street where we’d always felt perfectly safe.
The terror began at midnight with shuffling noises coming from under our highset house. Sometimes wallabies and bandicoots played under there but this was not their harmless exploring.
My husband heard voices, which at first he took as me and the children waking from the scuffles, but then quickly realised were from under the house.
He made subtle banging noises. Using our remote key for the car he made its lights flash on and off, to startle whoever was out there; his thinking was they might just be silly children.
They didn’t run, but instead called out “Oi…oi,” louder and louder.
We had no idea how many of them were. Sometimes it sounded like two people having an argument, other times like a gang. I rushed to shut all our windows, just in case they had a ladder.
With rising monster butterflies in my stomach I whispered, “let’s ring the police.”
My husband ran to grab our cordless phone. He was looking for the local police station number, which he couldn’t find, and I said a little sharply “just ring 000.”
The noise of the trespasser/s became more insistent and agitated under the house, and then came the knocking. It was angry and insistent and shaking-you- to-the-bones-nightmarish.
My husband was calmly explaining the situation to the police he went to the door and said, “And he’s now at our front door asking to come in.”
The trespasser was ranting and raving about why we wouldn’t let him into his own home and in no mood to reason. He kept demanding “let me in.”
My husband called out, “no mate. This isn’t your house. We’ve just rung the police so you better leave.”
The trespasser swore and bashed the sides the house. He had no intentions of leaving.
My pulse was racing out of control, about to hit the roof. I moved the family to the back of the house for a safety lock down. Unsure what else to do I said ‘removers of difficulties’ – a Baha’i prayer.
My youngest son started crying. I felt terrible asking him to stifle tears so we might be safe.
“Ring a friend too,” I said to my husband, as I’ve watched too many movies to trust police response times. So he did that, and there was more noise – and then strangely silence.
We hung tight, waiting for help. I felt terrible for ringing friends. Would they be safe? It was still outside; nothing stirred. Maybe the trespasser had gone. I was shaking and shuddering in cold sweats.
Finally, after what seemed an eternity to explore a universe in, the police arrived and we could hear, “Wake up. What are you doing? . . .”
The trespasser kept saying “it’s my house . . .“
Our friends arrived shortly after, came straight past the police car, and comforted us whilst they were dealing with the situation under the floor boards. The trespasser was taken to a watch house.
We were told the police had found him asleep under our house.
I recalled my bush mekeo Mum having a big bush knife under her bed that she used to chase intruders off with. As my shaking subsided, I shared that memory with our friends and the family.
My youngest son giggled, picturing his Mum and Dad with a big bush knife.
Later cyclone Yasi came to visit, shaking our poor house, making frightening bangs in the night; but we found courage, partly due to the awful memory of another night trespasser still in our minds.
First shared at ABC Open.