I’d been sleeping at my boyfriend Sam’s house for the past three days. His parents were away in Florida, and despite his tough-guy demeanor, I knew he didn’t want to be alone.
We’d been together for three years now, both in our mid-20s, living with our parents, because let’s face it – the economy is not in the favor of millennials right now. We’d both been saving up to move out. I worked late nights at the diner, often coming home around six in the morning. He worked a regular 9-5 job, so whatever time we got to spend together, we took it to our advantage.
I had a short shift the first day I slept at his house; I started at 5pm, and finished around 11:45pm. The drive home was quiet, I listened to a Sword & Scale Podcast, but the majority of it went in one ear and out the other. Pulling into the driveway, I reached into my pocket for the spare key. Entering the house, I could feel the stillness. It wasn’t comforting — in fact, there was something eerie about it.
I found him fast asleep on the couch, his dog, Max, snuggled at his feet. It was too cute to not take a picture of, so I grabbed my phone from my purse in the kitchen.
I froze when I thought I saw something that looked like a person in the window run past. I shook the thought away, accusing my mind of just making things up and letting my imagination run wild. I walked towards the front door, and peered out, looking to see if it was his brother coming home.
There were only three cars in the driveway: his mom’s (they took his dad’s car and left it at the airport), Sam’s car, and my car. That was it — no other cars were parked on the side of the street.
“You’re overreacting, that stupid horror movie is getting to you,” I said to myself, trying to calm down.
I grabbed my phone and walked back to the living room. I frowned; Max was no longer there.
I heard a low growl a few feet in front of me and sighed. “C’mon, Max – back to bed!”
He wouldn’t give it up. The barks woke up Sam, and I watched as he rubbed the sleep away from his eyes.
“Hey, when did you get home?” He asked, smiling lazily, ignoring Max’s barks completely.
“Just a couple minutes a—,” I was cut off by the computer behind me turning on and blasting the news at full volume.
“The body of a 17-year-old boy was found earlier this evening by Burl’s Creek. Authorities have not released the identity, but many locals are hopeful it is Matthew Gooding, a senior at William’s Landing High School who disappeared four days ago. The story is still developing. Back to you, Ken.”
We looked at one another, confusion spread across our faces. The computer on the desk never gets turned on, and Sam had his own laptop. It made no sense, and it definitely spooked the both of us out, but we brushed it off and went to bed.
All I could remember was the heat. It was so hot in Sam’s room, it almost became suffocating. Kicking off the covers, I tried to get my body to cool back down. My hair was in a low ponytail, strands clumped and matted from my sweat to the nape of my neck. I wasn’t used to this. My room was located above the garage, so naturally, the temperature was much cooler.
I rolled over, facing Sam, who was sound asleep, clearly unbothered by the room temperature.
You bastard, I thought jealously.
I turned over to the other side, and closed my eyes, trying to coax myself to go to sleep.
Sam’s snores had turned into slow long breaths of air, and at one point it sounded as if his breath had completely escaped. I waited to hear his next breath, but there was none. I counted to 30-seconds before I turned over to face him.
He wasn’t breathing — he was completely lifeless.
I immediately sat up and began to shake his arm, “Sam! Sam!”
I panicked and shook his body violently. I took basic CPR classes when I was younger in order to get my babysitter’s certification, and knew the next steps to take. I sat up, positioned my hands on his chest, and began 30 chest compressions.
A gasp escaped from Sam, and he stared at me wide-eyed. I sat back, grabbing my own chest, tears streaming down my face.
“What happened?” He asked.
I shook my head, “I don’t know you — you just stopped breathing.”
He stared at me for a minute too long before grinning, as if he just pulled off an elaborate prank. It was in that moment that I felt incredibly uncomfortable.
The next day, I called Sam while he was on his lunch break, wondering if he had remembered anything from the night before.
I could hear the confusion in his voice; he was completely unaware of what had happened. In fact, he even laughed it off at one point.
I didn’t want to go back to his house that night, but I knew that I should stay with him just in case.
We had our first snowfall in Minnesota that night; I was looking out the window as the TV played some movie from the 90’s: Urban Legend. I remember watching it as a child, thinking it was the most brilliant movie ever: a serial killer connected to urban legends we grew up on!
I wasn’t watching the TV because I was watching Sam’s dog outside, looking like he was going to freeze to death.
“Just let him in,” I told Sam, my heart aching for the poor dog.
“He won’t shut up.” Sam snarled back.
I had never seen him act this way.
I stood up and let Max in, despite Sam’s protests. As if on cue, Max came rushing in, barking and snarling right at Sam.
I was surprised — it made no sense. Max was ten years old — he knew everyone’s scents, why was he acting as if Sam was an intruder in his own house? Sam began to tense up, and I knew that was my cue to figure something out.
“Just…calm down, okay? I’ll take him downstairs.”
Sam let out a sigh, and I couldn’t tell if it was relief or annoyance.
Bringing down Max, I put him in the basement, where most of his old toys were scattered around. I went back upstairs, only to see Sam fast asleep on the couch.
I sat beside him, resting my head on his shoulder.
I don’t remember drifting off to sleep, but when I woke, Sam had moved to the other end of the couch. I could hear Max scratching the door with his nails.
I made my way downstairs, listening to his whimpers through the door. I hesitated as my hand turned the knob – I knew Max would come darting out, barking and growling as he made his way back upstairs. That would wake up Sam, and who knows what he’d do — he already had a look in his eyes that showed he wanted to kill Max.
Max continued whimpering, his nails scraping against the door. I cracked it open just a bit, enough to poke my head in. I stared in horror at the mess he had made: the abandoned toys were torn to pieces — fluff from the plush toys gathered in balls, pieces of string entwined, looking like spider webs. And worst of all – Max’s nails.
The poor dog had scraped his nails along the wood on the door so hard that they began to bleed — streaks of blood on the bottom half of the door.
My heart sank. I opened the door a bit more, enough to maneuver my body through it. I reached down to pick him up, but he sat down, continuing to whine. I tried once more, but he had gotten up on all fours and began to bark at me.
“Shhh!” I whispered, trying to coax him into being quiet.
His barks turned into whining once more, and he began to go to one of the corners of the basement where an old fridge was used to stock extra beers was kept. He sat in front of it, whining once more.
I’d had enough – I didn’t blame Sam for wanting to off this dog. Hell, at that moment I wanted to do the same.
“What is it, boy? There’s nothing in the fridge for you to eat!” I said, pulling at the handle.
Giving it a hard tug, I opened the fridge door, the light illuminating the room. I was still looking at Max when I heard the thud.
There, on the floor, was Sam wrapped in a duvet. His skin was turning blue, and he could barely speak. I stifled back a scream – I knew Sam was upstairs sleeping, so who was this person?
His teeth chattered each time he opened his mouth attempting to speak. “T-T-Tha-That’s no-n-not m-m-me up th-th-th-ere. It-t-it’s going-g t-t-to kill y-y-you.”
I grabbed some more blankets from the boxes, wrapping him — wanting to get as much warmth back to his body. I doubted he was in there for 3 days, he had been moved – I was sure of it. I reached for my back pocket, wanting to dial 9-1-1, but my phone wasn’t there.
Shit, I thought. I had left it upstairs on the couch.
I began to run back upstairs, my heart racing, my palms getting sweaty by the minute.
Sam wasn’t on the couch anymore.
I ran towards the window, looking out. My car was backing out of the driveway —and I could see the driver. It looked like Sam, but his face was now contorted into something monster like — no longer human. He gave me a sinister grin as he pulled out of the driveway – I still see that grin whenever I close my eyes.
Who was I sleeping beside in Sam’s bed? Who had I been coming ‘home’ to for the past three days?