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HOOT

Having the house to yourself when you’re a kid feels like a blessing from on high. The authoritarian dictators I call mom and dad have left town and the sun has finally fallen down. Usually, a teen left with an entire home to themselves would be expected to throw some sort of party or at least a kickback. Not me. I’d rather puff some grass in the back yard and microwave anything I can find in the freezer. Then gorge myself to the point of near vomiting. This felt like the pinnacle of relaxation, the hour was nearing midnight and my eyelids were growing heavy. Until I heard a loud and distinct

HOOT HOOT.

I nearly jumped out of my skin, because it sounded loud enough to be coming from behind my head. I had never heard of owls being indigenous to this area, and I had lived in this town for nearly my whole life. Either way, this was an owl and it was very close.

HOOT HOOT.

I hopped up filling to the brim with excitement. I had never seen an owl, they were my favorite animal and had always seemed so wise and mysterious to me. Now it seemed like there was one in my own backyard. I was already hatching ideas of feeding it so that it would return every night or make its nest in the backyard. Despite my enthusiasm, I was hesitant to run into my backyard wearing nothing but my boxers and a t-shirt. So instead I walked through the kitchen and approached the sliding glass door, which faced the backyard. I turned on the outside lights with a flick of a switch. The lights were weak causing the enormous oak positioned in the center of the yard to cast large ominous shadows over most of the yard.

HOOT HOOT.

I pressed my face against the glass, cupping my hands around my eyes to see better. Nothing. The lights in the kitchen were making it so all that I saw was my own face. I went to turn off the kitchen lights, this made the backyard a lot easier to peer into.

HOOT HOOT.

Again I pressed my face into the glass of the sliding door. Craning my neck, squinting and all around struggling to see even a single feather of this owl.

HOOT HOOT.

Frustrated I cursed and began to unlock the sliding glass door, sliding it open and bracing myself for the cold of the outdoors. As I did my phone began to ring, I quickly returned to the couch and saw that it was my mom. She called to let me know that one of our neighbors texted her saying that someone left the gate in the backyard open. We both laughed about how annoying our nosy neighbors are but nonetheless I agreed to go and close it. As I hung up the phone, out of the corner of my eye I saw the light in the backyard switch off. Not flicker out, but switch off. As if it were unscrewed or busted out. As I walk back through the kitchen toward the sliding door, the combination of both the kitchen lights being off and my new vantage point allowed me to see the source of the sound.

HOOT HOOT.

Unfortunately, it was not an owl perched on the branch of a tree. Instead, it was a man, dressed in dark clothing and a ski mask. He was pressed against the wall beside the sliding glass door, invisible from where I was previously standing. He then cupped his hand to his mouth and bellowed in a convincing impression,

HOOT HOOT.

I was frozen. He then looked toward the door to see me, who saw him. I could now see in one of his hands was something long and made of metal. Then we both saw that the sliding glass door was not only unlocked but slid ever so slightly open.

Recommended2 Simily SnapsPublished in All Stories, Fiction, Horror, Mystery/Thriller

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