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The American dream: it's different for everyone. For some, it's to be successful and live in a big house on some hill in California. Mine is simple albeit a bit stereotypical. My dream is to live in the suburbs and live a quiet life with my family in a small neighborhood. Our house lies just on the outskirts of a town and our street is full of pleasant people. My family and I easily became friends with everyone on our street once we moved. Our house was in front of a dense forest full of green trees. It was a beautiful scene that fit my dream perfectly.

The first week of living at our new house was wonderful; we had just installed a new electric fence so that our dog, Smokey, could run and play with the kids outside. Sometimes the kids would run with the dog into the woods and play fetch by throwing sticks and watch Smokey try to weave through all of the brush and broken branches. I always told them to never go too far into the woods or they'd get lost.

The eighth day of living in our new home was strange. Much to my dismay, the kids ran outside with the dog and tried running into the woods, but Smokey stopped just outside of them, refusing to go any further. He was terrified and he let a small whimper out as he slowly backed away from the forest.

The kids pulled on Smokey’s collar, but he wouldn't budge and the more they tugged on him, the more he resisted. So the kids ditched the dog and went into the woods. I approached Smokey to see what was wrong. I knelt down next to him and scanned woods in the direction he appeared to be looking at but as far as I tell there was nothing.

As the day progressed, I called the kids inside because it was getting late and sent them to bed with a few bedtime stories. After, I went to bed with my wife and wrapped my arms around her as we drifted off to sleep.

It was nearly two in the morning when I woke up due to a somewhat sickening sound. I got up out of bed and walked downstairs where the noise was even louder. It sounded like a dying animal and it was coming from the woods behind our house. It didn't sound like any animal I'd ever heard and the screams sounded like whatever it was, it was suffering a slow and excruciatingly painful death. The screams continued endlessly and were getting louder, and louder. With every scream increasing in volume, they each sounded more sickening than the last.

Suddenly, my heart sank and a sense of dread washed over my body. The screaming had stopped abruptly. It was sad to think some poor animal was just finished off, however, I felt a great sense of relief. The screaming had been torture for me. Trying to forget what I'd just heard, I shook my head and I went back to bed.

I woke up the next morning and I told my wife about the night before. She said it was probably just an animal and I shouldn’t worry about it. It was about noon when I went outside to play with he kids and Smokey. I decided to accompany them into the woods, but once again, Smokey stopped at the edge. This time he was barking intensely and I decided to go see what was in there. I didn’t see anything, and even looked around for traces of any kind of attack on the animal I heard last night. As I started walking back to the house I told the kids not to go in the forest, but my wife protested. She claimed I had nothing to worry about and that I was just being paranoid.

The following day, the older of my two sons, John, told me while he was running around and playing outside he had heard what sounded like a child screaming in the woods. Strange because the screams that I heard sounded nothing like a kid, possibly an older man, but definitely more along the lines of an animal.

Two days later Smokey disappeared. There were no traces of him and no one had seen him since the night before. I started to get more and more worried due to the recent events happening. On the bright side, I hadn't heard screaming for the past few nights. I'd hoped that whatever it was, it was gone.

Around midnight I woke up to the sight of my other son, Mike, in front of my bed with a terrified look on his face. He asked if he could sleep in my room tonight and so normally, I asked him what was bothering him. He told me that when he woke up in the middle of the night he saw a shadow out in the backyard of a child. However, he said the kid walked around like a dog and was on all fours. He had locked eyes with him through the window and it bolted off into the woods where later Mike heard screams. I told Mike that he could sleep in my room so he would have nothing to worry about.

That night I stayed awake all night and waited to hear anything so that I could find some answers. I began to doze off when suddenly the silence was broken. The screams has started once more. I grabbed the shotgun and the flashlight from the garage and sprinted into the woods. As I got further into the woods, I could hear the screams getting louder, closer. My heart pounded in my chest and chills of pure dread were enveloping my entire body.

As I got to what was I thought about twenty feet away from the screaming, it all just stopped. The sudden silence was a bit unnerving and my heart began beating faster, if that was possible. With speed I didn't think I possessed, I ran back home.

The more I ran, the more afraid I became. It was taking way too long to go back to the house. Maybe I was going the wrong way. I ran and I ran and I could not find the edge of the woods. Suddenly, I heard barking coming from behind me and it was none other than, you guessed it, Smokey. I ran in his direction, yelling out for him, but I couldn't find him. Just when I thought I was getting close, the barking stopped. I began to feel queasy and started running further and further until I stumbled upon what I'd call a pure monstrosity!

It stood around my height. Its skin was so pale that it glowed in what little moonlight there was. It stood awkward as if it had a hunchback, its body deformed and twisted. What got to me the most was its face, which so happened to be my face...sort of. It was a deformed version of my face to say the least. Its mouth was huge with teeth that looked like they could grind metal and it had so many tongues I didn't even bother trying to count. And its eyes...where the fuck were they?! The thing then got on its hands and knees and began crawling towards me at an alarming pace. I dropped my gun in fear and bolted in the opposite direction.

Sprinting as fast as I could, trying to escape the woods and that thing. I could hear its steps on my heels and I let out a panicked scream, hoping someone would hear only to have a breath taking revelation. My heart sank to the pits of my stomach. My scream...I'd been hearing my own screams all along. This thing, I think it can mimic voices. If it can mimic my face, although horribly, surely it can mimic my voice as well. Those screams my kids heard, it must have been their own and the thing Mike saw was this thing no doubt. All this dawned on me as I continued to run.

I chanced a glance behind me and I didn't see a thing which in turn made my blood run cold. I was exhausted from the constant running but a twig snapping in the distance had me running like never before. How long had it been since I'd been running anyway? Where was the edge of the woods? I just wanted to run back home and get my family out of here and away from that thing. Unfortunately, nothing looked familiar and the more I continued to run the more I realized I wouldn't be leaving these woods. In retrospect I should have taken my own advice: Do not go far into the woods otherwise you could get lost.