Making no more sound than a leaf falling from a tree, I inched my way out from under the table. I stood and then scanned the room, left to right. I felt watched, although I had no way of knowing for sure whether or not hostile eyes were studying my movements. I inhaled the distinct yet unfamiliar smell of sulfur lingering in the air, a calling card left behind from the repeated blasts of a gun.
I willed myself to move.
My bare feet padded across the linoleum floor. I was our family's lifeline; our only connection to the outside world. While I didn't ask to be put in that position, I could see that my daddy, an ex-Navy man, was incapable of the simplest movement. The man whom I loved more than life itself, whose massive arms daily swept me off my feet while swallowing me with an unmatched tenderness, couldn't raise an arm to shoo a fly.
To see him so helpless frightened me. Yes, Daddy was depending on me.
I had to run.
I shot out from under the carport, down the driveway, and turned right where concrete and asphalt met. The unthinkable events of the last five minutes replayed themselves like an endless-loop video in my mind.
My eyes stung, painted with hot tears at the memory. The fresh images of what had transpired moments ago mocked me with the fact that my worst fears had just come true.
I had to keep running.
To get help for my momma and daddy. To escape the gunman. To get away from all the threatening letters, the sniper gunshots, the menacing midnight phone calls, the home invasions—and the devil who seemed to be behind so many of them. But I'm getting ahead of the story.
Five Years of Terror
Mr. Horry James Watts lived across the street from us. By all outward appearances, the 65-year-old was an upstanding citizen and a happily married, devout family businessman with nine children. But many of the locals in Sellerstown, N.C., and the longtime neighbors who knew him well testified that, in addition to his respectable public facade, he had a sinister side. Mr. Watts had a reputation as a womanizer, a control freak and a kingpin of sorts—a narcissist who didn't hesitate to leverage both his influence and affluence to his advantage.