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It all started as a message in my mailbox one morning. Having my morning coffee and cigarette, I decided to walk out to the mailbox and check my mail. I bought this house from an auction for a very low price. It was out in the quiet country. Me being a city kid, I had no idea what country life was like until I had made a few friends around the area. With the purchase of the house came a hundred acres of crop land that, in the autumn, blossomed into golden produce that swayed beautifully in the wind.

I slipped on my shoes and headed out to the road, still slightly groggy. Upon opening the mailbox, I found a dead bird inside; at first, I thought it was those stupid kids playing pranks again - last week, they decided to toilet paper my lawn. I pulled the dead bird out and threw it on the ground; it was mangled to a pulp, almost as if a dog had gotten hold of it.

Inside was nothing. I started to think that maybe the kids had stolen my mail, but eventually I brushed it off and told myself I'd get up early in the morning and watch the mail come so I could catch the jerks in the act. The next morning came and the mailman came as usual. I walked out and got my mail, not thinking anything of it. The next morning was the same.

The next week came and I walked out to get my mail once again. This time, I was horrified at the sight; my white mailbox had blood smeared all over it. I opened the mailbox cautiously. Inside was a mangled cat. I gasped and covered my mouth, quickly choking back the vomit rising in my throat. I rushed to my garage, put on my gloves, and pulled the poor animal out. Stapled to it was a note, fairly legible, but crude nonetheless. On the note was a simple smiley face. I was disgusted at that; whoever did it thought it was funny. I gave the cat a proper burial and continued with my day.

The next morning, I woke up around 5:00 AM, walked out, and checked my mailbox again to see if it had been tampered with. The cat I had just buried in my backyard was stuffed inside yet again, this time another note attached to it. This one had a frowning face and under it, "You don't like my present?"

Pissed off and finally fed up, I decided to bury it yet again and stay up all night to watch my mailbox to find out who was doing this. The time rolled by - 12:00 AM, 1:00 AM, 2:00 AM, nothing at all... then, at 3:00 AM, I finally saw movement across the road and out of the cornfield there came a figure into my yard. I watched it until it finally came under the security light I have in the middle of my yard. What I saw I cannot begin to explain. It was a man... or at least I think it was. It was hunched over like an old man with long gangly arms that went farther than the average human and its head bent downwards as if it was looking for something it had dropped on the ground.

Shadow figure 440

The "creature".

The man looked frail and weak, but it moved with great speed. I quickly and quietly moved to the back window and peered out as I saw it dig up the cat once again and hold it in its arms; it stroked the cat as if it were alive and quickly hurried around to the front of my house. Back at my front window again and watching it as it made its way to my mailbox and put the cat inside, it disappeared into the night. That day I didn't leave my house; I was too shocked by what happened. I slept a bit then decided to take a trip to the store; when I came back, I checked the mailbox again and there it was, the same cat I just buried. I went to take the dead cat out of my mailbox once again and bury it in a different spot, then proceeded to stay up again that night and what to see what happened.

A flashlight in hand and watching my front window again, I saw the long, spindly man come out of the field and jog into my yard, to the spot where I just buried the cat that day and started to dig it up with his hands. I slid open the back sliding glass door and stepped outside, turned on the flashlight at the man, and yelled "What in the hell are you doing?!" The man turned around to face me, and that's when I saw the thing for the first time, in plain sight. Its body looked like it had been mauled by a bear - clothes ripped, rotting skin shown through, its teeth completely exposed and jagged, and the eyes sunken in. I quickly ran back inside as it gave a shrieking sound and hopped over in my direction.

I slid the glass door shut and locked it, and grabbed the pistol I bought for self-defense from under my couch. Sending a bullet into the chamber, I shined the light at the door and waited. I accidentally fired off a shot in fear when a glob of something smacked against the glass and slid down it. I walked to the glass door and shined the light down to see what it was: a mess of entrails were scattered across the bottom and blood smeared across the glass. Sick to my stomach, I chocked back the vomit that was rising from my stomach.

I quickly rushed back to the couch that was against the wall and sat there with my eyes fixed upon the glass door, my flashlight off. Outside, I could see the moonlight through the gruesome mess that was plastered upon the glass. I saw a figure approach the door, then its hands smeared the blood across the window. I was frozen with fear, waiting for it to break the glass and try to take my life from me.

After smearing the blood, it turned around and walked away. I swear I could hear a faint chuckle, like a smoker's lungs laugh, but more raspy. I sat on the sofa and didn't budge; I don't know how long I waited, but after a while the room became light as the sun rose in the sky. I looked around the house - everything was so quiet - then fixed my eyes on the window and smeared across it were hand prints with very unusually long fingers and a smiley, the same one on the letter. I sighed and tried to make myself comfortable but still alert. I laid down and rested my eyes. A few hours later, I awoke from a nightmare and propped myself up on the couch.

I was, apparently, pissing whatever it was off, and I was getting more scared by the second just thinking of whatever was out there, lurking. I cleaned up the entrails off the ground and went out to check my mail, then I came across a plain letter. Curious, I opened it up and felt a chill shoot up my spine.

The letter had no words - only a smile, the same, crude smile that was on the letter stapled to the cat and on my sliding glass door.

I quickly crumbled it up and tossed it on the ground. I left that night; I went to stay with my parents up in the city for a few weeks. Not explaining my situation to them, I just simply told them that I had been sick of country life and needed a change for a few weeks. They happily agreed. When I returned to my home three weeks later, horror was stricken across my face, for my house was not as I left it. As soon as I walked in, the stench of rotting carcass hit my nostrils and I vomited on the floor. Covering my nose with my shirt, I proceeded to the light switch.

Turning on the light made me shriek in terror. Scattered throughout my house were entrails and carcasses of dead animals; some were propped up like humans on my couch, and all were staring at me as I stood, horrified, in the doorway. All over the white walls were smiley faces and the same writing over and over, "I'm very angry with you," written in blood. I lifted up the couch seat to look for my pistol, but it was gone.

I saw something in the hallway moving steadily back and forth. Flipping on the hall light, there it was again: the creature who had almost killed me the night before I had left. It snapped its gaze to me and moved its mouth into a sickening smile. It jumped up and started to walk in my direction. I quickly turned around and ran outside, slamming the door behind me. I got into my car, started it up, and proceeded to back out of the driveway and onto the road as fast as I could. Behind me, I saw a figure in my rearview mirror running up to my car; its arms slammed into the trunk and it proceeded to hop onto the roof of my car.

I shifted into drive and slammed on the gas; I drove all night as far as I could away from the house, those dead animals, that thing. As soon as I was in the city limits, I decided to buy some gas, seeing as I was almost on empty. I pulled into a gas station and got out of my car. My eyes widened as I saw the trunk had been completely bashed in. I quickly pumped the gas and left for my parents' house. Four months later, I am living in my apartment, dealing with occasional nightmares at times, but could never be happier to get away from that house and that monster that lives there.

I just checked my mail this morning and received a letter with no return address. Inside, written on crumpled up paper, was a crudely draw smiley face and the words, "You can't hide," scribbled underneath it.