From the author: An eerie sound in the night becomes much more.
The moon is bright enough to light up the first few rows of corn. The stalks are tall, not quite ready for harvesting, but damn near. Tracy, the greying old hound dog, had been growling and barking at the back door all night.
The dog didn't listen.
Still no compliance.
Pete heaved out of the nearly worn out recliner, it's metal mechanisms clanking loudly. The cacophony of the suffering chair did more to silence Tracy’s barking than did Pete’s yelling.
“There's nothing out there you crazy dog.”
Pete unlocked the back door and pulled it open, peering through the mesh of the storm door. No sound. Not a breeze, nor passing headlights far out on the road at the edge of his property. The only movement being the occasional moth flying in and resting itself against the patched up mesh of the door.
“Dog, there ain't nothin…”
A sound like the rustling of leaves, barely audible, but enough to stop Pete in his tracks. Tracy let out a whimper.
Eyebrows furrowing, eyes squinting, Pete focused on the crop, trying to spot the source of the sound. Nothing. He turned around to find Tracy staring at him.
“What's up with you…”
The same noise, only louder now, interrupted him again. It sounded like someone walking in the corn. He was sure someone was out there; but who? He had no neighbours for miles, and he'd not once had a visitor or trespasser in all his years living here. Tracy let out a quiet whine.
“Who’s out there?” Pete shouted, trying his best to sound composed and confident. No reply.
'Probably some animal’ he thought, 'probably looking for food.’
Hoarse, but loud enough to make Pete's blood run cold, an almost human-like voice called out from beyond the rows. Tracy ran upstairs, her feet struggling to find traction on the hardwood floor.
Without realizing it, Pete fell back a few steps. His breaths shallow, he grabbed the edge of the door, half wanting to just slam it shut. Taking a deep, shaky breath, he called out to whatever it was.
“You...get out of here!”
Immediately the stranger, whatever it was, let out a long hiss, then another loud call.
Immediately after it's moaning stopped, it started making another sound. It was almost like a dog barking, but as if it was drowning at the same time. The eerie wetness of the voice began to dissipate, and it became apparent that it was barking like a dog. His dog.
Pete slammed the door shut. He locked it, and slid the deadbolt in to place. Almost in a full sprint to get to his phone, he stopped dead in his tracks. It had stopped barking, and was back to the hoarse moaning
It was louder, closer. It was becoming less hoarse.
The voice was starting to sound familiar.
“Whoos oouut therrre.”
It was his voice.
Heart pounding, breaths rapid, Pete abandoned his search for his phone and made for the upstairs bedroom. That's where he knew Tracy would be hiding, and that's where he kept a gun.
The thing outside was back to barking now, a perfect imitation of Tracy. It was close.
Pete found the lockbox he kept the gun in, unlocked it, and retrieved the pistol. He made sure it was loaded.
The wooden boards of his porch were creaking.
“You get out of here, now! I've got a gun!” Pete shouted, no longer sounding confident nor composed.
“Who's out there?” it called back.
Whoever, or whatever, was out there was now flawlessly impersonating his voice.
Inhaling deeply, he crept back towards the stairs, making sure the safety was off on the pistol in his hand. Pete’s anxiety rose with every step. His hand was trembling. His legs felt loose, as if they might unhinge and break off from under him. Once at the landing, he looked around the first floor of the modest home. Nothing. Whatever was stalking his house had stopped making any noise. Having last heard the thing on the porch, Pete slowly made his way to a nearby window.
Lining up on the wall beside it, his fear nearly boiling over, he took in yet another exaggerated breath and turned to the window. What he saw made him stumble backwards. A man, no, a creature. It looked like it was trying to be human, but something went terribly wrong in the process. Its stature was right, but it’s nude body had tufts of fur scattered chaotically across it. It’ face looked as if someone had melted a man’s and animal’s visage in the same pot, and neither one finished dissolving. Even as Pete stared, the thing changed, its body slowly rearranging itself in an attempt to look more like him. Pete couldn’t stop himself from backing away.
“You get out of here, now!”
Pete didn’t know if the one yelling was him or the creature at the window.
He stumbled over something and fell backwards, knocking himself unconscious.
The sun rising, his eyes opened. Sore all over, Pete groaned as he picked himself up off the ground. He looked around. No one was there, the world around him was still. Stretching and cracking his back, Pete started off into the cornfield, in the direction of the road. Tracy kept her distance, barking.
This story originally appeared in Self Published.