posted on Oct, 30 2004 @ 04:36 PM
“What do you mean, you won’t be home until late? We’re supposed to be at Jay and Michelle’s party in 30 minutes!” Sara snapped into the cell phone she
held pressed to her ear as she handed candy to the group of ghosts, witches, ballerinas and super heroes standing on her porch.
“Look, some of the sales team is in town for meetings in the morning, and we’re taking them out for drinks. I have to go,” she heard her husband Joe
explain. He sounded vague, maybe a bit preoccupied; Sara assumed there were other people in the room with him, and he didn’t want to be overheard
explaining his actions to his wife. “Go to the party without me, if you want.”
Sarcasm dripped from her voice as Sara answered, “Oh no, that’s fine. I’ll just stay home alone on Halloween night and miss all the fun. At least the
dog will be here to keep me company.” She jabbed the “off” button with her thumb, cutting Joe off in mid-protest, and flopped down onto her favorite
seat on the couch, tossing the phone onto the coffee table in front of her. Petey, their Boston terrier, jumped onto the couch beside her and laid his
chin on her thigh, sympathy shining in his curious brown eyes.
“Guess it’s just you and me tonight, big guy,” Sara said to the dog as she rubbed his ears. “You can help me pass out the rest of the candy to the
An hour later, she was out of candy, and Petey was desperate for a walk. Normally she would just put him out in their enclosed backyard, but not after
what happened to the Johnsons’ cat, Snowball. The Animal Control officers said it was just a hungry wild animal that wandered down from the mountains
-- probably a coyote, maybe a bobcat -- but they never did find the rest of Snowball, and Sara didn’t want her Petey having to deal with a wild animal
on his own.
She turned off the porch light and locked the front door, swung through the den to grab the cell phone, then headed for the door leading to the garage
with the dog bouncing around her feet. A quick snap to hook his leash to his collar, and off they went. As they walked Sara could hear a few
adventurous souls still out searching for treats, even though she didn’t see anyone. From the next street over their laughter and screams of feigned
terror echoed through the still night air.
Petey and Sara walked to the end of the street and turned down a footpath that leads through an undeveloped area to the river. She’d always loved this
walk, but tonight was different. She couldn’t shake the feeling that she was being watched. Fog was starting to develop close to the water, and a
thrill of fear ran down her spine as she realized the two of them had ventured far enough from the street that she couldn’t hear children’s voices
anymore. The dog was scampering around, sniffing the overgrown clumps of grass, oblivious to Sara’s increasing unease. She knew her imagination was
running wild, but suddenly she was glad she’d brought the phone with her.
Sara pressed a key to speed dial Joe, wanting to hear a familiar voice, but there was no answer. She was preparing to leave a message for him when she
noticed that Petey had stopped wagging his tail and was now staring into a shadowy area under the trees, growling softly. Sara decided to get the two
of them back to the safety of the house. Practically dragging the dog behind her as his growling turned to barking, she started back up the path
toward the street. Cursing herself for leaving the lighted pavement, cursing Joe for leaving her at home by herself, Sara rushed forward, straining to
hear the sounds of pursuit behind her over Petey’s frantic yelps. Heart pounding, she raced the last few steps back to the street, looking over her
shoulder to catch a glimpse of the beast she was by now convinced was stalking them.
“Mrs. Casey? Are you all right?” the tentative voice asked from behind her. With a shriek Sara spun to face this new danger, seeing in an instant that
it was only the group of teenaged trick-or-treaters she’d heard moments earlier. She struggled to appear calm while she answered in the affirmative,
but the looks of puzzlement, amusement, and unease on their faces let her know she’d failed, and she tried to hold on to her dignity as she and the
dog walked down the street to their house.
Sara didn’t really feel safe again until she was inside the garage attached to her home. She hit the wall-mounted button to close the overhead garage
door and walked through the connecting door into the kitchen, stopping to lock that door behind her, as well. She unclipped Petey’s leash from his
collar and felt a sense of normalcy return as she watched him run down the short hallway to the den. She decided she needed a glass of wine to
completely calm her down, and started toward a cabinet for a glass.
In the den, Petey began to bark, then howl. As Sara hesitated in front of the open cabinet door, the lights in the house dimmed briefly, then went out
all together as Petey’s cries abruptly stopped, plunging her into darkness as her earlier terror returned in a nauseating rush.
A wet, meaty sound, like someone slapping a raw steak against a wall, drifted down the hall from the den. A vile stench, a mixture of fresh blood and
old death, poured into the kitchen toward the woman who stood frozen in place, unable to see in the near-complete darkness, knowing that her home was
no longer her sanctuary.
And Sara had just enough time to wish that she were, in fact, still all alone on Halloween night.