I remember this incident that happened sometime in March, around when the pandemic started. In fact, it might have been the exact day when my boss told me that the company was going into lockdown and that I wouldn’t be at work for a while. The good news is once things lighten up in June, I was able to get my old job back. But still, it was a stressful time. Not to mention, I was still living with my parents. I was looking at apartments around my area, but the pandemic kind of scared me off from that.

Well, pandemic or not, that didn’t stop me from going about my days as usual. I have two dogs, Pembroke Corgis named Bessie and Frankie. Frankie was a puppy around that time, so we had to constantly bring him outside to pee and poo. Luckily, we fenced off the backyard so they didn’t escape. Still, I didn’t feel comfortable leaving them outside, especially at night.

I didn’t grow up near a state park or anything that big, but there was a reservoir behind my house, and I knew there were coyotes and other wild animals living out there. I would sometimes hear them yelping at each other, probably fighting over food. So can you really blame me for being paranoid about leaving my dogs outside? Even though the backyard was completely secure because of the fence, I still didn’t trust it. So whenever the dogs had to go out at night, I accompanied them.

One more thing to add is that my house was built on a slope, going down, and the way we would go into the backyard was through the deck behind my house. The deck went down a staircase into the fenced-off backyard, where I could look up the slope toward the road that made my street. Sometimes, I would see other people walking their much bigger dogs down the road. Other times, I would see kids playing after dark, though they probably didn’t go that far from their houses. And then there were nights I would see coyotes. There was no mistaking their silhouette when they passed by a post light or cut past someone’s yard. And these were big. I never realized how big coyotes were until I saw one in the daylight.

So when my dogs ran around the yard, making their way to various spots to do their business, I would often look around to see if there was anything beyond the yard. It also didn’t help that my dogs would bark at pretty much anything that moved an inch. They were small dogs but acted like they were big, even the puppy. That made me worry that their barks would call over something we wouldn’t be able to handle, like a large coyote. But then I remember the fence, and my thoughts calmed down.

But that night was different. My dogs went about their business when the big one, Bessie, started barking at something on the edge of the property. I had a way to make him stop barking, by getting in between him and whatever he was seeing. So as I made my way to the corner of the yard, I tried to see what he was barking at. The strange thing was, I didn’t see anything. Now, it’s not like this was the first time the dogs started barking at something that wasn’t there. But I couldn’t help but think that there was something, and I just couldn’t see it.

Then the small one started barking, only he was barking by the fence door. I made my way towards him when I saw what was causing the commotion. It was a coyote. At least… It looked like a coyote. But if it was a coyote, it was the biggest coyote I had ever seen. It was also skinnier, with long legs. But the thing that most disturbed me was that it wasn’t moving. It just stood in the middle of the road, staring down at me and Frankie. Normally when a coyote comes our way, it doesn’t stop till it reaches the woods, never paying any attention to the dogs. So when I saw this thing wasn’t moving, I began to panic. My thought was the canine would run down the hill and try to jump over the fence. So in a fleet of panic, I scooped up Frankie and called Bessie over. Yet Bessie was too busy barking at the unknown animal. I yelled at him to come, and that did the trick.

I ran back up the stairs, with Bessie not too far behind. Once I reached the deck, I carefully dropped Frankie and bolted toward the door. I let the dogs inside and slammed the door. Maybe that was an overreaction. After all, the coyote wasn’t doing anything. But now that I was inside, I could get a comfortable look at the creature from the front door window.

I peeked through the small glass window to where the animal was standing. It was gone. It probably ran off into the woods. A steady stream of relief hit me, for at least I knew it wasn’t near the house. At that point, it was time to put the dogs in their crates, located in the basement.

When I went to bed that night, all I could think about was the coyote, or whatever it was. I was sure it wasn’t a coyote, there’s no way it could be. Those legs were too scrawny, and it had to have been the size of a mountain bike. Coyotes are big, but not that big. Maybe it was a neighbor dog that escaped its yard? That had to have been it! But what kind of dog was it? It wasn’t a greyhound, for it didn’t have sagging ears. It wasn’t a German Shepard, because its legs didn’t resemble the breed.

The only animal I could think of that somewhat resembled what I saw was this strange-looking wolf that lives in South America, I think it’s called a Maned Wolf. But even then, after looking up pictures of the wolf, later on, I came to the conclusion that animal wasn’t what I saw. Ignoring the fact that there are no Maned Wolves in New England, the creature I saw was taller, and its neck stuck downward. It was almost like…

My heart stopped for a second when I realized what it truly looked like. I didn’t want to believe it and thought my head was just distorting my memory, but that thing kind of looked like a man dressed like a wolf. No… No, that’s stupid. I would have known from the start if it was a man on all fours. And besides, why would someone do that? Go walking around at night dressed as a wolf? I mean… There are weirdos out there. But I didn’t think anyone who lived near me was that weird.

Eventually, my mind got tired of thinking about the wolf-thing and faded into slumber. I tried fighting my exhaustion, for I wanted to crack this mystery, but I couldn’t fight back against the Sandman's Magic. That is until the sound of scratching broke me out of my trance. My room was located directly above our door, with my bed right next to the wall. So I could hear it like it was on the other side of me. It didn’t sound like a dog scratching at a door to be let in. It sounded like a cat’s claws being dragged down a piece of wood. Except, how do I describe this? It sounded heavier. Like the arms attached to the claws had more muscle in them. There was no mistaking it either. It wasn’t the wind. It wasn’t the pipes. It was definitely something outside scratching at my front door. The only question was… Was this the animal I saw later that night, or something else?

I didn’t want to investigate. Like a scared little child, I covered my ears and drowned out the scratching. I prayed that this was some sort of dumb animal and not some creep in a costume who could figure out how to break into my house. Yet even with both ends of my pillows shoved directly against my ear, I could still hear the claws. And did I hear laughing? Or was it the animal’s wincing, that just sounded like laughter? You know, like a hyena. Oh, God…

I didn’t know how long it lasted. Might have been a few minutes, or it could have been an hour. But thankfully, it stopped. Whatever it was, it had run off. That got me thinking of a third theory. What if I just imagined it all? The creature on the hill? The scratching? Maybe my paranoia was getting to me, and it was all in my head? I had never experienced anything like that in the past, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. Yet my memory was so clear… I could picture it in my head. How could that have just been a trick of the eye? I don’t know… I read that fear makes us see all sorts of crazy things, and it wasn’t like I was in a calm state before I saw it. I was worried about my dog’s barking and keeping a lookout for predators. So maybe it was all in my head…

And with that thought, I dozed off to sleep. I can’t remember what I dreamed of, but it definitely wasn’t the beast. That didn't last long. Morning came, and there was only one thing on my mind. If I had been imagining it, and those noises I heard were not real, then there would be nothing to show for it. I would go downstairs, check the door and see if there were any claw marks. Even the tiniest scratch would confirm my suspicions, but I wasn’t expecting that. I was expecting to find nothing, and I would be able to ease my mind on the whole ordeal.

But as soon as I did make it downstairs, I saw that my mother beat me to it. She stood outside with the door open, gazing in horror at long, deep crevices in the wood. Paint flaked off from the edges and decorated the ground. It almost looked like someone had power-washed the door. And my mom was speechless, as was I. My stomach twirled into a knot, and my bones ran cold. No animal could have done this. This had to have been done by a person.

My dad soon woke up and we showed him what happened. Dad was pissed, because he knew this meant he had to re-paint the door. But more so, we were disturbed by what did it. And we were at a loss of what to do. Was this something you’d call the police for? Keep in mind, I didn’t tell them what I heard, nor what I saw. I thought this would either upset them or they’d think I was being paranoid. We decided to leave it be, and if this happened again, we’d call the cops. And I made sure to keep a lookout for the beast, or when I’m lying in bed, an ear out. I wasn’t going to be a chicken next time. I would march downstairs and confirm visually what was causing the scratching.

Yet I never got that opportunity, for it never happened again. I never saw the beast-man running down the road when I took the dogs out to pee. I never heard scratching at the door while I tried to sleep. And after dad re-painted the door, there wasn’t so much as a line on it. Whatever it was would remain a memory, from one of the oddest times of my life.

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