Heart By Heart

 

Each night I break into a different house, searching for her.

My love, my angel, her golden hair and porcelain skin. She vanished one night. A brutish ogre of a man took her. She fought back but he knocked her out. Now she won’t wake up. So he keeps her, asleep in his home. I will find her. I have to start somewhere.

Tonight, I start with a small Cape Cod at the dusty end of a dead end road, where pavement fades to gravel, then to dirt. A dense layer of clouds provides coverage from the moon. I move in silence through the shadows.

The house is dark, but cars are in the driveway. Someone is home. Doors and windows are all locked but I’ll find a way. There’s always a way inside.

I search around the house, peeling back the trellis beneath a rotting deck to discover a long aluminum ladder. I fight off the gargantuan spiders who have made this ladder their home, then carry the ladder out into the open. Fighting against rust to extend the ancient device, I position it against the roof. It clangs against the gutter and I hold my breath. No lights come on inside

The pitch of the roof is steep and the shingles are loose. One slip and I end up  with a broken back in the lawn. The half-dead rose bushes are more likely to impale me on thorny branches than break my fall.

Loose grit crumbles beneath my fingers as I scale the roof. I make a mental note to look for a nice pair of gloves once I’m inside.

I reach the first gable. With my stomach flat against the roof, I reach a hand and try the window. It’s stuck. I wedge a knife into the crack and separate the aging paint between window and frame. It still won’t open. So much for stealth.

The next option requires more speed. Pulling myself up along the gable, I stand facing the window. Tightening my grip on the edge of the gable, I bring my knee back. A swift kick shatters the window. A few more kicks to knock away the loose shards and I step one foot inside, crunching more glass into the carpet. Crouching to avoid a cut, I easy my body into the small, upstairs room.

The room is vacant, but down the hall, lights and frightened footsteps draw near. I hide behind the door and wait.

“How’s in there?” a shaky old voice demands.

It’s no one. I am no one.

“I have a gun,” the man warns. That’s good. I need a gun.

Light floods the hallway, spills beneath the door. Enough light to see the doorknob twist. The door eases opened.

I see an elderly man in the gap by the hinges. He doesn’t see me. His eyes are fixed on the broken window. The barrel of a shotgun leads him into darkness.

Rookie mistake.

As he steps in, I snatch the barrel and lunge into the door, knocking him off balance. The shotgun fires into the wall, wrestling to be free of my grip. I slam the man into the wall with my shoulder as we wrestle for the gun.

Holding the barrel safely pointed at the wall with one hand, I thrust my knife, sinking the blade into the ribs beneath the old man’s armpit. It’s not a kill shot, but it hurts him enough to let go of the shotgun.

Grabbing the handle, I snap the butt of the gun into the old man’s nose, sending him tumbling into the corner. A few more hard thwacks and he’s finished, cringing and cowering, crying and begging for mercy.

“Please, take anything you want.” He shields his head with his hands.

What I want is her.

“Where is she?” I growl.

The old man looks up and feigns confusion. “Who?”

I swing the gun and connect the handle to his jaw. He keels over and curls up in the fetal position, sniveling and holding his face.

“My girlfriend.” I level the gun between his eyes. “You know who I’m looking for. Everyone knows.”

He shakes his head and whimpers. With eyes sealed shut, he raises a trembling hand and points down the hall. “In the medicine cabinet. That’s what you want right? I-I have lots of prescription. Also, my wife’s jewelry. In a box on the dresser. J-just take it and go.”

My rage boils over. I kick the old man in the stomach, then smash his temple with the gun. He rolls onto his back as blood seeps from the gash in his face.

The moon pierces the clouds, sending a blue beam through the broken window onto the old man. In the pallid light I kneel beside him and place the gun on the ground. His eyes widen when I pull out the knife. He grunts and gasps as I plunge the knife into his chest. He deserves this for not helping me find my lost love.

Feeble hands scratch and the handle protruding from his chest as crimson spurts through the air. A few chopped breaths and the life drains from the old man’s eyes. The blood oozes, then trickles, a spreading puddle surrounds him.

I wipe off the blade and begin to saw into the man’s chest, cutting away chunks of skin and muscle, exposing his ribcage. I carve into him like a pumpkin, removing handfuls of slush from the gaping wound until I reach his heart.

It still beats. Faint, but palpable.

Carefully cutting the surrounding arteries, I remove the heart, feel its warmth in my hand. I look at the moon and raise the heart above my head as blood trickles down my arm.

It’s one more for my collection. It will provide much needed strength for my quest.

I place the heart in my satchel. Oh yes, did I mention I carry everything in a satchel? The heart nestles in with several others, along with a grappling hook and a few other tools.

I step over the corpse and wash up in the hall bathroom, then move into the master bedroom down the hall. On the dresser, an ornate jewelry box rests as promised. I open it and a large gem twinkles in the faint light. It looks like the ones I found in the other houses.

Red and blue pills from the medicine cabinet join the heart in the satchel. These will come in handy when my mana is low.

On the main level, I find a nice pair of gloves. I also find a set of keys to open every door and cabinet in the house. One might belong to a neighbor. Neighbors trade keys sometimes.

Each house contains something I need.

Each house brings me one step closer to her.

And I will keep searching. House by house. Heart by heart.

I will search every house in Hyrule Heights until I find my Princess, my beloved Zelda.