Last year on Halloween I was spending time with my girlfriend, Erin, at her parent's house. They were out of town, so we had the place to ourselves, just her, me and her mentally retarded Dalmatian Toby. The thing about this dog is that he loves people and he'll chase after anyone he sees, not to harm them, but to give them kisses and say "hello." He was so bad that when anyone let him out to go to the bathroom, they'd have to keep an eye on him, even though the yard has a 6' tall security fence, because that damn dumb dog would either try to jump the fence, or he'd tunnel underneath it.
Erin's parents live in a very nice neighborhood, one of those gated community type places, which to me, having been born on the "wrong side of the tracks" (yeah, we're like a shitty Nicholas Sparks book) seemed like a mysterious and nearly magical place. There were trees everywhere and all the houses surrounded a couple of decent sized lakes. It was a far cry from the boarded up shops and dilapidated houses of my neighborhood. It was a place where you could walk around at 3:00 in the morning, with cash in your hands and a smile on your face and not have to worry. Having grown up where I did, I could barely understand such things.
Being such a nice neighborhood, we had a lot of trick or treaters. Erin and I sat on the front porch of her parents huge house and handed out candy. As the night grew later, the steady stream of trick or treaters slowed to a trickle and then eventually stopped. We were heavy in conversation about something. I can't remember what now, but at the time it was important, so even though there were no more kids coming by, we stayed on the porch talking, and enjoying the brisk air and the aroma of slowly decomposing leaves.
We were interrupted from our conversation by Toby scratching at the door, wanting to join us on the porch, or trying to let us know that he needed to be let out to do his business.
We enter the house and let Toby out into the backyard, where the fence is, and watch him to make sure he does his thing. I'm hit by the urge to do my business, so I go inside and go to the bathroom. While I'm indisposed I hear the doorbell ring. I finish up, wash my hands, and go to the front door, and see my Erin standing there, looking out into the night. There's no one there.
"Well, I guess the treats have ended and the tricks have begun," she said, or something like that.
I looked at my phone to check the time and see it's nearly midnight. A prime time for Halloween tricks, games of ding-dong-ditch, and egging cars and houses. I decided to move my car into the driveway and off the street. When I came back into the house, Erin was no where to be seen.
I called her name a couple of times and begin to search the house. It's a big place, three floors, four bedrooms, three bathrooms, closets everywhere. I was in the finished basement calling her name when I heard footstep on the main floor above me. I went back upstairs and Erin's there with a worried look on her face. I asked her what was wrong and she says Toby wasn't in the backyard. He got out while I was in the bathroom and she was going to answer the door.
We grabbed a couple of flashlights and decide to look for the damn dog. Erin's parent's house are backed by a large woods and I know that Erin has no interest in searching them at night. We did the stupid horror movie thing and split up. She takes the streets and neighbors yards in the front and I take the woods in the back.
For a little while I could hear Erin calling for Toby, but as I went deeper into the woods, and she went further down the road, I eventually couldn't hear her. Only the sound of the wind in the trees.
I was probably in the woods searching for that dog for half an hour or so before I heard a rustling sound in the distance, leaves being crushed and twigs being snapped. I'd either found the dog or ran across a raccoon, or skunk. Please God not a skunk, I thought.
I called his name again and then waited for him to come bounding at me, as he always wood. But nothing happened. Instead of him coming at me like a whirlwind, the sound stopped. I called his name again, and the night responded with dead silence. I remember thinking that it must have been a raccoon, and that I had spooked him.
I began to walk back toward the house, having decided that Toby wasn't in the woods and if he was, I wasn't going to find him. As I began to walk back toward the house, I realized that I was so intent on finding that damn dog that I hadn't paid much attention to where I was going. I was, I realized, a little lost. Luckily I could see some lights in the distance, someone's house lights. I began to walk in that direction, when I heard the rustling again. Could it be deer, I wondered? I stopped pausing, and listening. When I stopped, the rustling stopped. I began walking again and the rustling took up again. I peered into the dark woods, the remaining leaves on the trees breaking up the moonlight casting dancing shadows on the ground.
Was there someone else out there?
I kept walking toward the light, and hastened my pace and the rustling too sped up. I ran flat out until I reached the house. It was a neighbor's house, but I didn't care. I sprinted through their yard and out into the street. I turned around and watched, waiting for whatever was following me to come into the light of the house's porch light.
I waited for another, maybe, five minutes, and then began to walk back toward my girlfriend's parent's house. When I got back I found Erin and Toby snuggled on the couch watching a movie.
Erin explained how she found Toby making the moves on a Pomeranian down the street and had to drag his blue balls back to the house. I forced a smile. I didn't want to tell her about my strange experience in the woods for a couple of reasons. First, I didn't want to scare her, and second, and maybe more importantly, I didn't want her to laugh and say how I got scared because a squirrel chased me through the woods.
The movie ended and we got ready for bed. Erin was in the bathroom taking a shower, and I was changing into my pajamas, shorts and a t-shirt. I could hear Toby whining and scratching at the back door. If knew that if I didn't let him out now, then I would have to let him out when he woke me up at like 4 in the morning.
I walked downstairs and saw him at the back door, pawing to get out. I grabbed my coat and threw shoes on over my bare feet and let him out. I go out on the back deck and watch him, so he doesn't get away again.
Toby goes to the back of the fence, butting against the woods, and he's sniffing along it. I'm worried that maybe he's got a hole back there, and he's going to escape again, so I walk out to him. As I'm walking closer, I see Toby start wagging his tail, still sniffing at the fence. Now, I'm worried there's a coyote, or another animal on the other side of the fence. I'm about ten feet away when I heard it...
Someone was on the other side of the privacy fence.
Have you ever seen the movie Mothman Prophesies? There's a scene in that film where Richard Gere is talking to the character Indrid Cold and Cold's voice over the phone sounds strange, like an approximation of a voice. That's the closest proximity to the voice talking to Toby.
The voice froze me. I stood staring at the fence, trying to will my eyes to see through it.
Again the voice,
"Good, boy" the voice says and I can tell that he's no longer talking about the dog.
I say firmly call Toby, who runs toward me like he didn't even realize I had been standing behind him. I grab him by the collar and drag him into the house, locking the door behind me.
I ran around checking all the doors and windows, hating that there were so many in this house, making sure they were all closed and locked. I then went to Erin's bedroom and find her fast asleep. I locked myself, Erin and Toby in the bedroom and crawled under the covers.
I didn't sleep.