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It has been six weeks since our new next-door neighbors have moved in, and since then, I have felt nothing but fear.

The exact day that my neighbors had moved in was June 9, a Saturday. The weather had been scorching that day, the rays sending continuous lines of beading sweat down my back. I arrived home from my trip to the grocery store with my dad when I saw the moving van next door. I didn’t overthink it since I never interacted with anyone in my neighborhood, so I just brushed off the sight and continued with my day.

Later that same night, I decided to take out my dog before heading to bed for the night, and that’s when I noticed that the moving van was gone. There was one car in the driveway, and I assumed there was another one in the garage. I took my gaze off my dog for longer than I anticipated until I noticed that she was already in the neighbor’s yard. This immediately set my heart into a frenzy. I didn’t want to give them already a wrong impression, so I yelled out to my dog in a hushed whisper. Of course, my dog being the little shit that she is, looks back to me and continues walking over to their house. I called out to her again, this time a little louder, and still she continued onto their driveway, sniffing the ground to take in the new visitors. I sighed in frustration, knowing that I would have to go to her to lead her back to the house. I looked over and saw that there were no lights inside. At this realization, I looked down at my phone and saw that the time was only 8:47 PM.

I remember thinking that the people who just moved in must either be old or exhausted from the moving process since there was no sign of life coming from the house. As quietly as I could, I made my way into the neighbor’s lawn to herd my dog over to our side. Making it over to my neighbor’s driveway, I quickly but quietly ran over to pick up my dog. This sudden rush of movement caused her to run from me in the opposite direction, which had been further up the driveway. I cursed a few profanities under my breath at this, and I made one more attempt to call out my dog’s name, which again did not work. I could feel my blood beginning to boil, but I knew that it wouldn’t be the best idea to go and scream for my dog. I then devised another solution, I didn’t know if it would work, but I knew that it didn’t hurt to try. To get my dog, I would have to sneak up behind her to prevent scaring her. My footsteps were short but quick as I went behind my dog and picked up her small frame. I then went in the direction of my house until I heard a familiar sound. It was what sounded like the click of a door closing but from the neighbor’s house. I disregarded this thought, and I entered my house, taking it as a figment of my imagination. Although, something still didn’t sit right in my stomach. I felt as though someone had been standing in the doorway of their house watching me, but again I shrugged this suspicion off. I wish I hadn’t.

The next day comes and goes, and there is still no sign of anyone from the house. I don’t go outside much, but I still hadn’t come into contact with anyone during the times I did. I found it incredibly odd that no one saw anyone leaving the house this entire time, but again I could always be inside when they come out, so again I shrug off this factor. As usual, I continue with my day doing absolutely nothing, considering I am on summer break, and here comes the time when I do my nightly routine of taking out my dog before going to bed. I remember the memories from the night before flooding my mind, and a chill crawled up my spine.

I decided I wanted to make it quick to prevent myself from having another possible similar experience, so to do this, I put my dog on the opposite side of the lawn to the neighbor’s house. However, as soon as I set my dog on the ground, she ran to their house. My breathing hitched as I saw her go further up the driveway this time and closer to the door. I stood frozen in place as I watched my dog walk around the corner to their front entrance. A sickening feeling erupted in my stomach as I saw her disappear. Something was wrong. I tried with every fiber of my being to go over to where my dog had gone, but I couldn’t move. It was as if something inside me knew that if I went over there, I would be in danger as if an outside force was having their hold on me and wanting to protect me. As much as I tried to explain this night to my parents, later on, I couldn’t give them an accurate explanation as to why my body wouldn’t let me move because there were no words that would allow me to describe it to them.

What I am going to tell you next is something that I will never be able to forget. As I stood there, I could faintly hear the sound of a door opening, and I knew it wasn’t mine. I remember my eyes had begun to well up with tears as the sickening feeling in my stomach only began to grow. From around the corner, a shadowed figure appeared with my dog in its hands. I could barely see any of their features since it was pitch black, but what I could see was a bright smile and the faint shadow of their eyes. It was an unnatural smile that reached halfway up their face with glistening white teeth showing through their lips. The smile showed nothing but pure joy. The person just seemed too happy, the kind of happiness that screamed psychotic. I felt a tear stream down my cheek as their smile grew impossibly wider as their eyes met mine. I couldn’t tell if their eyes had any because they looked so black; I didn’t know if there was even anything there.

I watched as they leaned their head over to my dogs’ ears as if to whisper something. I could visibly see his hand caressing my dog’s head as if it were normal. After what felt like an eternity, they knelt on the ground and set down my dog. The figure then put something on my dog’s back before pushing her in my direction. As she walked over to me, I saw that he had put on her was a folded piece of paper. I didn’t want to know the context inside. I wanted to tear it up and forget this all never happened, but my curiosity got the best of me, and I opened it. My hands clenched onto the paper causing crumpled lines to appear on its surface. I felt nothing and everything at the same time, leaving me immobilized as I said the written words aloud:

“Hi. Neighbor. :).”

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