That One House In The Neighbor

Todd thought that it was a good thing when Roxie needed walked while he was working. There was only so much staring at a computer screen and calling himself a moron that he could take at one time. So when the little boxer started scratching at the front door, he hurried to save his work, and headed out with the leash. As he did, he wondered why so many writers seemed to prefer cats.

There was a light drizzle of rain outside, making the late spring air smell wonderful. He took a deep breath while Roxie pulled ahead of him, intent more on exploring than doing her business. They passed the house on the street that no one lived in, making Todd shake his head. He guessed that everyone had that one street in their neighborhood. His son, Timothy, swore that the place was haunted. Well, he supposed he couldn’t fault the kid for having an imagination. He was the son of a writer, after all. But it was still a pain in the ass. Timothy wouldn’t go near the place, not while walking to school, taking the dog out or on evening walks with Todd. While it wasn’t a major thing, having to walk a different way, it was something Todd didn’t feel he should have to do for a twelve year old boy.

Though he had to admit, seeing the place in the gray, cold weather, it was a creepy house. The paint, a putrid pea green that he supposed had been the fashion once upon a time, was peeling. The front porch looked like it wouldn’t support a man’s weight. He wasn’t sure, but it looked like there was a taxidermy squirrel nailed to the front door. He grimaced. Why had the city allowed it to get in such bad shape?

Roxie was barking at the house. She was straining at the leash, trying to get into the yard. “Stop that,” he said, pulling her back. “You can’t make all that noise here.” The neighbor’s thought he was strange already, the way he stayed home all the time.

But Roxie apparently didn’t care that her master might be embarrassed by her barking. She gave a solid yank on the leash, and he let go. She ran right up to the house. Todd, shouting her name, ran after her. She pushed her way through the door, disappearing into the house. Praying that no one lived there, he followed after her.

The house was uninhabited. The front room was scattered with beer and vodka bottles, along with an impressive amount of cigarette butts. Obviously some of the local homeless people had been using the place to party.

“Roxie!” Todd cried, “Get down here, you stupid dog!”

He could hear her nails clicking around upstairs. Cursing the dog, half sure that the floor upstairs wasn’t going to hold him, he descended the stairs. She was standing in the hallway, wagging her tail.

“Come on, Dummy,” he said, reaching for her. As he did, he heard someone behind him, chuckling. He turned to see a woman, dressed in a raggedy blue house dress. In her hand she held a rusty butcher knife. “Pretty dog,” she said, then lunged forward. She sank the knife into the side of his neck, laughing maniacally the entire time.

Todd fell to the ground, gasping for air that he couldn’t get.

The house hadn’t been haunted.

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