I'm standing in an open yard outside a white house with a boarded up front door and closed storm shutters, its garden beds full of weeds. By my feet is a broken mailbox , rusting away in the tangled grass. It's clearly been years since anyone lived here. This is not the home coming I'd imagined when I'd left.
I mount the stairs like a woman condemned, each step marked by the hollow groan of wood and the fluttering of the breeze playing with the faded remains of crime scene tape tied to the banisters. The crowbar in my hand is a key to beginning to understand what happened here, but it's the unfamiliar weight of the compact RX4 Storm snuggled against the small of my back that comforts me because it's not something I feel afraid of.
The air smells musty when I crack the chipboard sheet open and the morning sun shows me the collection of broken glass and shattered wood that's all that's left of the front door. Stretching away beyond that is the hall carpet covered in the dark stain that had once been my father's blood, unbound by even the memory of chalk or tape. I have to jump slightly to get past it and follow my shadow into the gloom.
Everything is in disarray, things swept off shelves and out of cupboards and left strewn haphazardly across the floor, every single container left open and emptied. The lounge suite has been torn open, the stuffing spiling out over the spray pattern left by my mother's murder, the place she fell as unmarked by others as my father's. Pillows and mattresses have suffered the same fate. No room had been left untouched by the people who did this, suggesting that if they were looking for something beyond sheer destruction they didn't probably find it.
But if they'd been looking for something, why start by killing the people who could've told you where it was? It must have been something the killers thought they could find without help, because it's easy to tell that the first thing they did was kill the people in the house before they ransacked it.