Bark bark bark.
Shit, not again.
Please, I'm trying to sleep.
Still, my dog kept on barking, and now my puppy decided to chime in with his half bark-half whine.
I got up, rubbed my eyes, and ignored my own need to pee as I walked to my dogs' cages and opened them, first my puppy's, then my older dog's.
Leonidas (my rambunctious golden lap pup) seemed determined to trip me on the way to the door leading to our front yard.
I let him, and my near-seven-year-old dog, named Twilight (and no, she was not named after those atrocious books or movies), out before backtracking to my room and grabbing my phone to check the time.
3:30 in the afternoon.
They had let me sleep nine hours, at least.
I was greeted with the message icon in the bottom corner of my phone, alerting me to the fact that I had 8 new messages. I shuffled outside and sat in one of the chairs on our small, concrete porch to supervise my dogs before checking any of my messages.
Four of them were from my idiot friend, whom assumed that if I didn't reply to what she had to say within half an hour, I didn't get the message, and would keep sending the same message over and over again until I replied.
She'd been going at it since seven in the morning, seeing as she was one of those special, special little children who took summer school, whereas, I was halfway across the country visiting my father for the summer. Finally, at one in the afternoon, she either got that I was ignoring her, or sleeping and to be honest, it was both.
The other four were from different friends, one asking if she could borrow my skateboard, another asking if I wanted to hang out soon, another telling me that the boy I liked was talking about me (and in a good way) at the party she was at. I responded to that one immediately before checking the last one.
It was from my little sister, telling me that she missed me and asked me what I was doing. I responded to her saying, "Not much, and I miss you too, sweetie. How are you doing?" before my attention was turned fully back to my dogs.
Leo was just squatting down to pee, whereas Twilight was still sniffing around.
As soon as he was done, he came waddling over to me as fast as his tiny body would allow.
Being damn near 100 degrees in Indiana at the time, it was understandable that he hid under my chair for the shade.
Twilight was still sniffing around, and Leo suddenly became interested in attacking my bare foot.
"You little shit," I cooed affectionately and picked him up so he could plop in my lap and immediately tried to bite my hand.
I ripped it away from his mouth and instead stuck my face in front of his, which resulted in my nose being nipped, not that I expected any different. I giggled, thankful it didn't hurt, and tapped his head lightly, and he immediately ceased his efforts to do my harm and laid down on my other arm.
By that time, Twilight had finished peeing and came running over to us. I set Leo down and let them inside, the glass door that would replace a normal screen one had a little bug on it, so-me being the complete child I am-freaked out over it and body-slammed into the wood door with the actual lock on it.
It flew away, much to my relief, and I turned the face the wooden door, rubbing my shoulder.
Uhhhhhhhh, that should be open. I always leave that door open when I take the dogs out.
I shrugged it off and attempted to open it.
I sighed, assuming my dad had woken up and found the door open while walking around, probably cleaning up my soda cans, and in his half-awake state, closed the door and locked it.
I went around to the back, making sure my dogs didn't stray from behind me and opened up the gate to the back yard.
Twilight went through it just fine, but Leo-being the stubborn brat he was-remained right in the path the gate door would need to take in order to be closed. Again, I sighed and slid him over the grass with my foot and closed the door. Twilight began barking at something, and growling fiercely.
"Stop that." I muttered harshly, but she kept barking.
Just another damn cat. Marty probably let one out again. She always became extremely tense and agitated when a feline was anywhere near her, or any other animal besides other dogs.
Leo even started joining in.
Wonderful. She's teaching him bad habits to go with the good ones.
I walked behind the house when I noticed the inside curtains moving out of the corner of my eye.
Startled, I whipped my head around to face them, and realized that the air conditioner had just clicked on again.
I slapped a hand to my chest, wherein my heart was beating with the amount of speed it did after I ran three miles, which wasn't abnormal every time I got spooked. And I'll be the first to admit it, I'm a jumpy little brat.
Continuing my brief journey to the back door I whistled to bring my still barking dogs to me.
Thankfully, they came, still growling, and I opened up the door, this time a normal screen one, and prayed to a god I didn't believe in that the door was unlocked.
It was, and I knew that if my dad knew I had left it unlocked last night when he went to work, that he'd be pissed. I stepped inside and allowed my dogs in before I closed both the doors and locked it this time.
When I filled Leo's food bowl, I addressed Twilight, cooing, "Who wants a cookie?!"
She responded with her normal howl at that question and we walked all of three inches to the treat box where I made her sit, then stay where I walked around the house before returning to her, still rooted to the spot. I fed her her treat and rubbed her head, practically screeching how much of a good girl she was.
I let Leo eat, knowing full well I'd need to take him out again in about three minutes to poop and walked to the living room to switch on the TV and sit on our new couch and just loaf for a few hours before I went skateboarding.
The wooden door to out front yard was open.
Dammit, Dad. Probably a freaking prank.
Nothing was on live TV, which really wasn't surprising because I watched about two live shows ever, or whatever Comedy Central comedians had to offer, none of which were on. I decided to see what was on my recordings before checking Tumblr.
Thankfully, Rob Dyrdek's Fantasy Factory and South Park had been recorded by the plenty, and a familiar lump rose in my throat when I saw House had been on a few times.
No, no. It's too soon for that. Speaking about my mourning of the show being over.
I put on the oldest episode I had recorded of Fantasy Factory and dragged my laptop over to me and turned on my mouse so I could check my Tumblr for just a few moments before taking Leo out to pee.
As if on cue, he began to whimper so I called his name and took him outside, this time standing in the doorway so my dad didn't close the door behind me again.
That doesn't make any sense though. How'd he close it without me noticing?
Ha, what a joke. What would have been the feat was if he actually managed to get you to notice something.
I snorted at my own mine-joke and as soon as Leo pooped, I brought him back inside and closed both doors.
I sat down again on our corner couch before realizing that I was hungry.
Like a typical teenager, I rifled through the fridge, the cabinets, the cookie jars without finding anything edible. Part of it was because of my vegan diet, the other part because hey, I'm picky. Though I was a pretty good cook/baker, I really didn't want to spend my time making anything.
Unfortunately, everything else either had dairy or meat in it.
Frozen vegan pizzas it is.
I warmed up the oven to exactly 400 degrees (Fahrenheit), set it to bake and turned around to unwrap the packaging before I heard a loud bang.
I jumped, yelped and turned around.
Just the oven door, it's getting old, you know that.
I looked down at my leg to see the permanent reminder of how careless I could be while baking. That same burn scar that was a perfect rectangle that I had awarded myself with almost exactly a year ago, same oven.
I closed the door, let it heat and slid the unwrapped pizza and pizza pan in and set the timer.
Returning back to my living room, I groaned when I saw the door was open.
Figuring that the doorknob was going bad, I damn near slammed it shut, just to make sure. I sat down, and did nothing but eat my pizza, go through Tumblr and watch TV until around 7 at night, when it was best to practice skateboarding.
I threw on some socks and my ratty old Vans, made sure my phone was in one of my front pockets and went through the door leading to the garage, opening the garage door on my way out.
Stopping by my dad's weight set, grabbing my Captain America, Batman and Rammstein sticker-riddled board, I threw it down on the ground and hopped on.
Cruising around my neighborhood, I flipped my shit and nearly fell off my board when I saw a shadow pass out of the corner of my eye.
I whipped my head around while trying to keep my balance trying to find what made that shadow. I was too stunned to scream.
Probably just your glasses, Morgan. Calm your tits. And fix your bra before they fall out.
I did just that, and kept going until I reached home. I jumped off my skateboard and fist pumped when it rolled into the garage. I followed after it and closed the garage door and entered the door leading back into my house. I checked my phone, three minutes until I had to get my dad up. I peeled off my shoes and socks and threw them towards the front door.
I hummed a soft little tune as I bypassed the bathroom door that led to my father's room, and instead walked to the door in the hallway.
After a few minutes, my groggy father was up and about, grumbling about his "damn work hours."
Once he had woken up a bit and had his coffee, I decided to congratulate him on thoroughly irritating me by that prank he had pulled with the door earlier.
He looked at me, confused, and asked, "What are you talking about?"
Thinking he was probably still too tired to remember, I responded, "You know, when you closed and locked the door when I took the dogs out earlier today."
Instead of admitting to it, he just shook his head and said, "Wasn't me."
"Well, who else could it be?!" I was getting a bit freaked out.
He shrugged, "Might have just been the wind. Ghosts aren't real, Morgan. How'd you sleep today?"
We talked, and I asked him to go to McDonald's to pick me up some fries. He agreed because he was hungry as well (though he isn't vegan like I am) and left.
While he was gone, I attempted to teach Leo how to fetch, with no luck. He was only 8 weeks old, so really, what did I expect? I gave up and laid down on the floor, which encouraged Leo to attack my hair. I sighed and braced myself for a long night.
A few hours later, my dad and I had eaten and he left for work, telling me bye and that he loved me. I replied with the usual, "I love you too, Daddy." and he was gone until 8:30 in the morning.
I heard a knocking on the door, and figured it was my dad, forgetting his keys, again.
I got off the couch opened the door and instead of looking up to see my father, I had to look down at a little girl.
She looked like she had been crying so I knelt down, slightly wary of any vans or shady people walking around.
"What's wrong, sweetie? Did you lose your doggie or kitty?"
She shook her head and wiped a few fresh tears that had rolled down her face. "I l-lost my m-m-moooommEEEEEEE!" she wailed. My heart broke for her.
"Oh, honey. It's gonna be okay. Do you want me to call 9-1-1 for you?" Again, she shook her head and began to walk away. I stood where I was and called after her, "Are you sure? It'd be no problem, sweetie." But she just kept walking. I watched her leave, wanting to make sure she was safe. Eventually, I returned inside to see my dogs cowering in fear in the family room, the complete opposite side of the house. I stood in the kitchen, using my sweetest voice to get them to come to me, but they stayed put, whimpering pathetically. I walked to them and sat down in front of them and rubbed their backs until they calmed down.
I had never seen them like this and it chilled me terribly.
We went into the living room after a little while and I watched TV until my dogs began barking. I told them harshly to hush and then I saw something out of the corner of my eye, once again.
I froze, my mouth dropping open in fear.
"D-d-d-d-DADDY! DADDY! DADDYDADDYDADDYDADDYDADDYDADDY!" I screeched like a banshee as I jumped off the couch, whirling around, looking for something, anything to grab to defend myself. I came up with a folded up poster of Captain America, which had fallen off my wall in my bedroom and I had been meaning to put back up. I dropped it, realizing it was useless in a fight and instead came up with my Stallion of the Cimarron figurine I got for Christmas when I was 8.
It wasn't much, but it might pack a punch.
I was still groping for the metal candle stick that was on my coffee table when the shadow passed in front of my eyes again, not just the corners.
I screamed and bolted.
My dogs followed me as I ricocheted off the hallway three times before finding the door to my bedroom.
I yelled for my dogs to get in before I slammed my door shut and held the knob, cursing whoever created these doorknobs for making them so cheap that the damned lock wasn't working the only time it ever needed to.
Something slammed into the door and I chocked back a sob, unable to find any words to express my horror.
Twilight and Leo were still barking.
The banging immediately stopped and I help the door still for several minutes, refusing to look around at my windows for fear of what I would find there.
After nearly ten minutes, I threw my door open, just in case whatever it was still by the door. Nothing.
The door to my father's room was closed.
The bathroom door was closed.
The storage room door, which was the room next to mine, was closed.
I looked around, full of fear before remembering that my phone was on the couch.
I just had to get that and get to a neighbor's house and call the police.
The plan worked fine, except that the front door was locked, just the way my dad had left it. I unlocked it, but it still didn't open, meanwhile, my dogs were stationed behind me, fixated at barking at something.
My mouth was so dry I couldn't swallow.
Every fiber of my being was telling me to not turn around. Morgan, if you do anything, don't do this. Don't turn around. Morgan Paige, do. Not. Turn. Around.
Instead of listening, I turned slowly, so slowly, my dogs yapping behind me, and what greeted me was...
Nothing was there.
I let out a sob and slid down the front down, unable to hold myself up.
I needed to heave.
I stumbled my way to the bathroom and put my hand on the doorknob when the door to my father's bedroom slowly creaked open.
The sound that came from my mouth was not human, it wasn't even my voice.
Tears rolled down my face as the door finally opened all the way. I saw nothing, but there was a voice coming from my father's room.
While trying to hear the voice, my ears strained so much they hurt, but I just make out a tiny little voice calling out, "Moooooooommy, Moooooooommy." It got louder until it was a full on shriek.
"MOMMY. MOMMY. MOMMY. MOMMY. MOMMY."
I clamped my hands over my ears and went into the fetal position, sobbing. I looked up with tear-filled eyes to see my dogs quacking with fear, trying their best to defend me, and that was the last thing I remembered before passing out.
The next thing I knew, a police officer was shaking me awake.
I screamed and bolted and tried to lash out before he calmed me down and my dogs were jumping all over me, Twilight with a noticeable limp.
While my father and I were at the police station, trying to get everything sorted out, I noticed a news paper on the desk of the police officer that had woken me up.
On the front page was the article of a girl, Lucy Carrison, age 11-the age of my little sister-who died in a freak accident of drowning in a bath tub after hitting her head, presumably while slipping, the day before, in the house three doors down from me.
What I saw next didn't surprise me in the least, but I still sobbed uncontrollably at it. The picture of little Lucy was the very girl I saw last night.
Since then, I've undergone numerous therapy sessions, and I still get nightmares from the event, three years later, age 18.
If you look hard enough, you can find the very news article that I read.
But be careful. I have no idea what you might find.