I have no clue who is reading this. Hell, I don’t even know if anyone is, but I need to get my story out. To let the world know of the… the… thing I’ve let run free.

I was 14 years old; I lived in a small neighborhood where everyone knew everyone. Honestly it was filled with old people, and because of my speaking impairment no one at school wanted to talk to me. So I wasn’t exactly what you would call “social”, more of the type that enjoyed sitting in their room all day. But anyways, February  2nd 1987. I was still a 14 year old teenager longing for some sort of relationship. I got my prayers answered when a small family moved in just around the corner of our house, not even five steps away. In the midst of my excitement I stared at them through the window, watching them unload their car. They were just a simple family of three, a mother, a father, and their daughter. At first I had lost interest, until I realized the girl looked about my age. Finally, someone I could talk to! I jumped off the couch, rushing out the door, not even answering my mother when she asked where I was going.

I had caught them just in time. They had finished unloading the last box, and seemed to be taking a break outside.

“Hey, hey!” I yelled, waving my arms frantically at them. The mother then pushed the daughter behind her, her husband standing by her.

“Who are you?” he snapped, causing me to stop dead in my tracks. I wasn’t expecting that.

“My name is Phillip. Phillip Hawkins. My friend’s call me Phil. Ya know, if I had any.” I laughed nervously, watching as they all stared at me uncomfortably.

“I live around the corner. In the blue house,” I quickly managed to spit out, hoping to ease the tension. The father coughed.

“Well Phillip, it’s very nice to meet you,” he began, coughing again.

“I’m Mr. Gately. This is my wife Mrs. Gately,” the wife slightly waved, “And our daughter, Amanda Gately.” The daughter smiled at me, like you would smile at a relative. I couldn’t help but feel comforted at this and smile back. “Anyways,”

Mrs. Gately began, stepping straight into my view of Amanda. “Go home, Phillip. It’s getting late,” I looked up at her, ready to protest, before her husband nodded his head in agreement.

“She’s right, kiddo. Go home,” I looked at them, feeling defeated, and muttered a quick ‘good night’ before running back home.

To this day I can still remember the way Amanda looked. She wasn’t at all what anyone would consider “attractive”, but to me she was a goddess. It was hard to tell if she was skinny or not because of her billowing shirt. She wore a pale, tattered jean skirt that caused her feet to disappear. Short but curly brunette hair hugged the sides of her chin, standing out perfectly against her milky skin and deep blue eyes. I remember going home and drawing picture after picture of her, lost in thought of the new girl I had deemed as a “friend.”

Days turned into week and weeks into months with still no sign of Amanda or her parents. I had asked around the neighborhood and school and no one had seen them either, at least not since the day they moved in. I would bike by their house on the way to school or when my mom sent me to the grocery store, and I never saw any signs of life. Sometimes, when I was feeling lucky, there would be a rustle in the curtains or a shadow across the windows. Otherwise, the house was seemingly empty.

November 21st, there were still no signs of the Gately’s.  I had begun to worry, seeing as any normal human needed a social outlet. I was sitting on the couch, blankly staring at their house, waiting for something to happen. “Why don’t you go and visit them?” My mother’s voice busted into my thoughts, causing me to fall off the couch and scramble off the floor.

“W-What do you mean?” I stuttered, my speaking impairment acting up again.

“I mean why don’t you go say hi? The guy is always supposed to make the first move, you know,” she advised, snickering underneath her breath.

“Shouldn’t I bring something?” I asked, struggling to stand up.

“No, I don’t think so. Maybe some flowers would be nice…” My mother’s voice trailed off, rattling off different ideas of what to bring. I had tuned out at some point, taking my jacket off the coat rack and heading out.

The night was cold. It snapped bitterly at my nose, causing it to turn a cherry red. I curled into the jacket, pretending like it helped. I stopped when I reached the overgrown fence. I pulled my hands out of my pockets, looking at my hands. Empty. I didn’t even bring her a penny.  I looked around desperately, knowing that whatever my mom said about women always ended up being right and that I badly need flowers. I looked over at my neighbor’s yard; my sight rested on the putrid yellow marigolds.

I stood at the door way of the Gately’s, marigolds in hand. I had never really given any thought to why they were staying inside, or why they seemed so determined to protect Amanda, and maybe if I had known then what I know now I would’ve just avoided them, but that’s besides the story. I knocked on the door, rung the doorbell, even nudged it with my foot once or twice. It was maybe five or ten minutes after they opened the door, Mrs. Gately staring at me ominously.

"Phillip?” she asked, which now that I think about it seemed more like a statement, “What are you doing here?”

I sucked in my breath, my words tangling up in my throat, toppling over one another.

“U-Um… Hello, Mrs. Gately. I was hoping that m-maybe I could…Um… Drop by for a v-visit?” I smiled timidly.

She sighed heavily, stepping away from the doorway and motioning her arm as to welcome me in. I nodded in thanks, cautiously walking in. The house was barely decorated. A few scattered boxes laid strewn across the floor, randomly placed furniture and trinkets misplaced.

“Is… Is Mr. Gately home?” I stuttered, idly fingering the marigolds.

“No, I’m afraid he left for groceries,” she answered her face straight and neutral.

“Oh. I s-see. Is…Is Amanda home?” I stuttered again, mentally cursing myself for it.

“Yes, but you can’t see her right now. You can leave the flowers outside her door,” Mrs. Gately  responded, gesturing to the stairs I hadn’t noticed when I first walked in. I quickly spit out something that resembled a thank you, and disappeared up the stairs.

It was dark, dank, and the air smelled of mold and sweat. Mrs. Gately had never told me what room, or any room at all, but I just stroke my luck and carefully placed my flowers in front of the nearest door.  I didn’t know what it was, maybe my hand nudged the door or maybe there was a draft, but something caused that door open. And because of my overwhelming curiosity and hormones, I went it. Nothing could’ve prepared me for what I saw. There was Amanda, crammed in a dog kennel, shaking in the corner. The kennel itself was rusted. The walls were covered in scratch marks, dents, and the floor was covered in what I thought was blood, vomit, feces and urine. Cautiously, disgustedly, I made my way towards her.

“Amanda…?” I whispered, squatting down to her level.

“Phil?” She whispered back, moving to the front of the cage, her fingers curling and showing off the bloody, pink nail bed and scars.

“Don’t worry,” I reassured, “I’ll get you out of here.”

I looked down at the lock on her kennel, and like I guessed it needed a key. I looked around frantically, desperately, wondering where someone would hide a key. My eyes caught on a coat rack, similar to the one at my own home, holding a ring of keys. My heart pounded with excitement as I made my way across the room, struggling at first to grab the keys with my stupid butterfingers. I ran across the room again, not even caring about all the crap I ran through. I jumbled with the lock, shoving the key into the hole and with a simple click setting her free.

Amanda jumped from the cage, hugging me tightly, and I hugged her back. She kept repeating how grateful she was, how happy she was she met me, and I couldn’t help but smile. In the moment, neither of us noticed the sudden footsteps coming up the stairs. I released Amanda instantly, whirling around and staring at her parents dead in the face. For once, they had emotion. Fear, terror, utter horror. I didn’t really understand, at the time I thought they were afraid of what would happen if I told the police. I felt so proud of myself that I was even going to tell them how creepy they were. And just as my mouth went to form the words, all I heard next was:

“What have you done?”

I raised an eyebrow at them, looking at the way they stared at Amanda. I turned to look at her, instantly gagging in disgust. She was on the floor, hands deep in the muddle. Her body was contorting and distorting in different ways, she was hissing and barking. Amanda threw her head all the way back, enough for the back of her head to touch her back. Her fingers grew long and thin, her nails protruding out of her skin like claws. Her body grew long and thin, whatever fat that was left on her now gone. You could see her rib cage, her pelvis bone, everything.

Her nose disappeared, her eyes rolling to the back of her head, being replaced  by small red circles with white out-lining. Her skin went translucent for a moment, you could see all her innards slanting and altering, and then it changed to grey. I stared, wide eyed, my jaw slanted open. For a moment, everything was quiet. No one moved, not even the thing that now sat in Amanda’s place. Mrs. Gately screamed, and I hauled ass out of there. A body was flung out the room, and then another and the thing followed them not far behind. People screamed at me for help or mercy, but I didn’t care. I kept running. I didn’t look in front of me, cause when I did I was falling off the last step, and then I blacked out.

Faintly, I remember waking up for just a moment, the sound cracking bones and someone smacking somewhere around me. I could just faintly make out something leaning over what looked like two people, stuffing hunks and pieces of pink and red meat sloppily into its mouth.

I officially woke up on a stretcher. There was a nurse lingering above me, asking me questions that I didn’t bother answering, and my mother stroking my hair whispering:

“My baby, my baby.”

I sat up a little, looking over at what was the Gately’s house, watching as a figure dashed out of the backdoor and into the woods.

Please. You have to believe me. She’s real, she’s out there! I don’t know what I’ve unleashed, or why it’s here, but she’s real. She’s coming. Please, believe me. She’s going to kill us all.

I can’t live with this guilt any longer. This is all my fault. The world has secrets that are supposed to remain secrets. I’m so sorry.

It’s all my fault.