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I cannot stand thunderstorms. The flash of lightning, the roar of thunder, and the sound of heavy rain. Especially storms at night, they are the worst, because all the elements of the storm combined with the darkness make it even more familiar. I used to be fine with storms, even sort of liked them, but now, whenever there is a storm, all those familiar sights and sounds remind me of how I lost my son.

It happened about a year ago. I was always very close with him. I loved him to death, and he loved me. Even after my wife left, he kept me happy. I was so grateful for him. He was a very excited young lad, nothing could break his spirit. We would always do stuff together. Go out to the movies, play games, go on walks, play sports, any kind of father-son activity, we did a lot. We almost never had any fights, he was surprisingly nice and kind. He even once donated all $25.27 of his money that he was saving to buy a bike, to a children's hospital. Not very many young boys would do such a thing.

Anyway, it was about 9:00 PM, and there was a huge thunderstorm happening outside, it pounded the windows with rain and lightning frequently lit up the sky, and me and my son were playing around in his room. One thing we would always do is play around with stuffed animals, doing sort of role plays with them. We happened to be doing that on this particular night. We were playing, laughing, having a good time. He was using Mr. Fluffles. I know it sounds like a ridiculous name, but when he was only 4, and on his 4th birthday, he received a big, fluffy brown teddy bear, and when we asked him to name it, he simply shouted "Mr. Fluffles!", sending us all into a fit of laughter.

At this time, he was 7 years old, and still as cheerful as ever. Mr. Fluffles was one of those huge teddy bears you see at the store on Valentines Day. You know, the ones as big as a child, that you can hug. He was playing with Mr. Fluffles, he was always his favorite, and was also using a stuffed snake, two rabbits, and a mouse, as well as a Mickey Mouse plush, all of which were unnamed. I used another stuffed snake, a hippo, and two dinosaurs. We did a roleplay involving a bank robbery, where Mr. Fluffles was a detective and all the others were suspects, and he had to determine which one was the culprit. Our German Shepherd, Brody, was asleep in his room and slept through the whole playtime.

We both had a great time doing this, he was always very imaginitive, much like me when I was his age. In the middle of our playing time, it was suddenly interrupted by a loud bang on his bedroom window. We both jumped. "Daddy, what was that? Should we look?". I said "I don't know, Leonard, probably a raccoon or something." He wasn't exactly very brave, and things like this often did scare him. I pulled up the blinds on his window, and looked out into the dark, rainy backyard. Nothing was there. I didn't have a very far field of view because of the darkness and rain, only being able to see a few feet of the wet leaves on the ground, but I could tell that nothing was out of the ordinary. I dismissed the sound as a twig falling out of the trees and hitting the window, and we went back to our games. We continued to have a good time, until we finished at about 9:45. This was his bed time, and after giving in to playing for 5 more minutes, it was time for him to brush his teeth and go to bed, which he complied with. Leonard never did argue much. He always slept hugging Mr. Fluffles, he loved that bear.

After I put him to bed at about 9:55, I soon followed and went to bed myself. I just started to drift off to the sound of rain and thunder, when I heard the same, loud bang, on my own window. I immediately was wide awake again, and I looked over at the window by my bedside. The blinds were closed, but I could distinctly make out two white orbs, about the size of a quarter each, between two of the blinds. I became instantly paranoid, I was always a scaredy cat. I tried to dismiss it as reflections, but there was nothing around for light to reflect like that from. I decided to be brave, and got up out of bed, and pulled open the blinds. All I could see was the two white orbs outside. There was no doubt about what they were at this point. Eyes. I instantly began to hyperventilate, but I told myself it could just be a raccoon or something perched on my windowsill. But then there was a roar of thunder so loud it shook the window pane, and a bright flash of lightning at the same time briefly illuminated my backyard.

The eyes belonged to a tall, black creature. It was humanoid in shape, it stood on two legs and had two long arms, and it's head was shaped like some kind of dog or wolf, with those glowing white eyes. I could tell it was crouching to look in through the window. But the most terrifying thing about it was that on its hands, there were five claws that each had to be about three feet long. They looked like giant curved knives, they looked as if they could easily tear me apart. Like some combination of the biggest steak knives and eagle talons. I froze in fear and my heart was bursting out of my chest. I always feared the unknown. When the lightning flash was over, all was dark again, except for the two white eyes still staring at me.

The creature let out a rattling growl, that had to be one of the deepest and most threatening noises I had ever heard. Hearing it sent a chill down my spine and I swear the windows rattled from it. The eyes began to move sideways and I heard the sound of footsteps on wet leaves outside. The thing was moving. The eyes moved out of sight, and the footsteps faded away. I tried to calm myself, but then I thought of my son's safety. What if that thing was a threat to him? It looked like it was, with those claws it had. This thing was clearly some kind of predator, and I knew I had to be brave for my son's safety.

I hoped to god that the thing had left when it walked away, but I had to make sure. As much as I didn't want to, I crept through the door and out of my room, out through the corridor and into my living room. The storm was still going strong, the windows still frequently rattling from the roaring thunder. I immediatley began to look out all the windows in the living room, the kitchen, the dining room, and the sliding glass door that led to the backyard porch. I saw no sign of the creature at any of the windows, until I got to the sliding glass door. Outside on the porch was our cat, Thomas. He was sitting on the swing on the porch, lying down on the seat and looking through the screen wall out into the rain. He was a strange cat, always loved being on the porch, even through a raging thunderstorm. He would go on the porch whenever he pleased, by going through the cat door installed on the sliding glass door. Sounds like a strange feature, I know, I had it customly installed. Thomas, who was a Maine Coon, looked at me from the swing. He stared at me with his yellow eyes, and I felt somewhat relieved that the thing seemed to have left.

But then I heard a scream coming from Leonard's bedroom. My heart fell into the pit of my stomach instantly, and I ran as fast as I could through the living room and down the hall to his bedroom. The door opened and he ran out before I got there. He was carrying Mr. Fluffles with him, the teddy bear flopping around as he ran, it was almost as big as he was. He ran up to me, panting, and choked out "Th-th-theres a monster outside m-m-my window!". Then he broke down crying. I hugged him and told him there is no monster. I didn't tell him that I saw the beast myself out my own window, because I didn't want him to be even more scared. You know how fathers always have to act cool about the situation around their sons to soothe them, show no fear. I tried to convince him there was no monster, but he said "I s-s-saw it Daddy! It r-really is there, l-long claws, w-wolf h-h-head...".

To try to soothe him, I told him I would check it out myself to show him there is no monster. I walked into his room and looked at the window that had the blinds open. There was nothing there. Nothing except the pounding rain and wet leaves on the ground. Despite the fact I knew it was still out there, I said "See? There is no monster." He still wasn't totally convinced, and since I didn't want to send him to bed again for fear of what would happen, I said we would go into the living room to watch TV for a while. The goddamn thunderstorm still showed no signs of stopping. I popped in a movie and we watched while we huddled together, Leonard still hugging Mr. Fluffles. He seemed to calm down a little bit, cuddling always seems to calm kids down. That was another thing I loved about Leonard.

After a few minutes, nothing more out of the ordinary happened. But then I remembered Thomas was still on the porch. I wondered if I should bring him in for his safety, who knows if that creature outside would attack him. I thought this was the best thing to do, so I told Leonard I was going to bring Thomas inside and got up and walked to the sliding glass door. Leonard followed me carrying Mr. Fluffles.

Thomas was still sitting on the swing. He turned his head to look at us, but before I could open the door, he seemed to be distracted by something. He kept staring out into the rain through the fly screen, as if he was keeping his eye on something out there. You know how alert cats are to what is happening around them. I slid open the door and urged him to come inside, but he just hissed at whatever he was looking at outside. Out of the rain, a black hand with huge curved claws slashed through the screen and grabbed Thomas in one swift move. Thomas was swiftly snatched off the swing by the creature, the hand carrying him disapearing back into the rain as soon as it came. We watched in shock. Thomas screeched an echoing cry into the night and that was the last we heard from him.

Leonard said "W-we have to get him b-back...". I said "Are you crazy? You want to go after that thing?" Leonard always loved that cat, and he summoned up any courage he had and said we needed to go and get him.

Despite that fact that what we were about to do was suicidal, I was too shocked to protest when he pulled me out onto the porch by the hand. We went over to the hole in the screen where that creature had slashed through. The thing had effortlessly shredded a huge hole into the screen, big enough for a full grown person to fit through. As we looked through into the storm, our dog, Brody, had just woken from his nap and followed us onto the porch. He was a loyal dog, but not much of an aggressive one. He was still just over a year old. Brody seemed to smell that something wasn't right, and began sniffing the spot where Thomas had been sitting and tracked the scent to the hole in the screen. Brody whimpered and stared out into the night.

Suddenly we heard a deep growl. I recognized it as the same horrible noise I had heard earlier when I saw that creature outside my window. I heard the sound of thundering footsteps, running through the wet leaves. The two glowing white eyes appeared again, and they were getting closer. Brody started barking at it, but the beast started growling and screeching, horrible noises that pierced the night, and the growls were so deep and menacing, while the screeches sent chills down my spine.

The creature ran forward and slashed one of its arms at the screen. It's massive claws ripped apart the whole screen and sent flaps of it flying in all directions. I noticed it's claws were covered in blood, and I thought dreadfully of Thomas. Brody rushed forward to try to fight it off, but one slash of its massive claws sent Brody flying across the porch. He hit the wall and slid onto the ground, unconscious, and blood started to ooze onto the floor. Leonard screamed and ran back inside. I was the only one left to defend Leonard against this monster. As it easily shredded the metal bottom of the porch walls and got inside the porch, I picked up the toolbox that sat against the wall. It was very heavy, but, with all my strength, I threw it as hard as I could at the beast. The toolbox slammed into the side of its wolf-like head. The creature snarled and shook its head, but this only seemed to annoy it. The thing dug its claws into the toolbox and effortlessly tore the thick plastic to shreds and sent tools scattering onto the porch floor. Nails and screwdrivers and things of the sort showered the porch, and I heard Leonard scream as he saw that his father was in grave danger.

Leonard ran out onto the porch, and though I yelled at him to stop, he picked up a screwdriver and threw it at the beast. The screwdriver bounced off the creatures back. This did not seem to harm it at all, and just made it even angrier. The thing began to chase Leonard as he ran around the porch. Another thing that made the thing terrifying was that it was so...so fast. It ran at least twice the speed of Leonard, who is not a slow kid. Leonard ran behind one of the patio chairs, but the creature began tearing up the porch as it chased Leonard. Its claws shredded the chair in mere seconds, stuffing and wood pieces now all over the floor. The beast tore straight through the swing and shredded the middle of it, the swing now in two pieces. Me and Leonard ran as fast as we could back into the house and slammed the sliding glass door behind us so hard I was surprised it didn't shatter. We ran into the living room and grabbed my cell phone before running into the bathroom and locking ourselves in. Outside I heard the sound of shattering glass showering the dining room and this made me even more terrified. The thing had gotten inside.

As we heard the thing tear through our house, we dialed 911 and since I didn't know how to describe the situation in a believable way, I just said that someone was breaking into our house and trying to kill us. They said they would be there as soon as they could and we hung up. For about a minute we sat there, huddled together, listening to our house being shredded like paper. By the sound of it, it had gone into the kitchen and destroyed all of the dishes, and then ripped up the sofas in the living room. We even heard the TV being smashed. As the creature found more and more things to break, Leonard kept hugging Mr. Fluffles tighter and tighter. He loved that bear so much that he had taken it with him when we had run for dear life away from the creature. As the creature came closer, it growled at us with that same horrible sound, dragging its claws along the wall and leaving deep cuts in it. It seemed to be able to smell where we were, and was advancing through the hallway to the bathroom. I told Leonard we would have to make a run for it, run out the porch into the backyard and get help, because it could smell where we were hiding. Once it got to the door, one slash turned the door into mulch. I got up and tried to run past it, but it scratched me in the side. It was an agonizing pain and I felt that it's claws had gone deep, but I kept running for dear life.

Leonard followed and was just barely able to avoid the creature tearing him apart right then and there. We ran through the ruined house. I saw that the creature had broken almost everything in the living room, the TV had been smashed, the wood furniture turned to mulch, and the sofa cushions had been torn to pieces. When we got back to the dining room, the wooden dining table and chairs looked like they had been through a wood chipper, and as I expected, the sliding glass door had been pulverized. I slipped on the broken glass on the floor and fell. I felt the pain of the glass shards cutting into me, but it didn't matter because Leonard came running into the room, still carrying Mr. Fluffles, followed by the thing. It's open mouth had razor sharp fangs and it made that horrible noise again. It jumped forward and snatched up Leonard in it's claws. He started kicking and screaming, struggling to get free, while still hugging Mr. Fluffles, but the thing sank its teeth into Leonard's leg. The creature bit it clean off, gushing blood all over the floor. Leonard began screaming his head off and the creature dug its claws into Mr. Fluffles and in seconds the bear was in pieces. I screamed at the top of my lungs, threw pieces of glass at the creature, but it didn't care.

The thing dragged Leonard out onto the porch and through the massive hole it had made in the porch wall, out into the night. I got up and tried to run after it, but I fell again, I felt too weak. The beast turned around and let out a sound that sounded like a combination of a dog growling and a cat hissing, and then it turned around and ran off into the night while still dragging Leonard. The thing disappeared into the storm and in a flash of lightning I saw it dragging Leonard off into the forest behind my backyard, and that was the last I ever saw of him. Leonard continued screaming into the night until a sickening crunch silenced him.

I just lay there, crying while lying in blood and broken glass, feeling pain all over from my injuries, the deep cut the claws had made in my side still burning. I saw the head of Mr. Fluffles lying across from me, with bloodstains all over it. I picked up the teddy bear head and Leonard's dismembered leg. I started crying over these objects, the only parts of Leonard left.

It was at about this time the police arrived. They rushed to me and comforted me as they assessed the scene. I tried to explain to them what happened, but I couldn't form any coherent sentences. They called an ambulance and put me on a stretcher and the ambulance took me to the hospital, and they also took Brody to the vet after realizing he was still alive.

Not even my family and closest friends know the true story of what happened that night. I fear they will think I am insane or simply won't believe me. The police assumed that violent criminals had broken into my house and caused the property damage and the injuries and death to my pets and my son. I just went along with it, I already had a cover story. Leonard's leg and the bloodstained head of Mr. Fluffles were buried at his tombstone, as they were the only things left of him.Though the doctors couldn't explain what could have severed his leg so cleanly. When the scene was investigated the next day, nothing of either Leonard or Thomas could be found in the yard and the forest, except several pools of blood. Brody survived his injuries and made a full recovery, and so did I. But I will never truly recover from that event. My son's death haunts me to this day, and whenever there is a thunderstorm at night, I am scared that the beast will appear again. I have never seen that thing again after that, and I hope it stays that way. But he's still out there.

I cannot even look out the windows during a thunderstorm anymore in case I see two orbs of glowing white light, or I hear that horrible growl.