I’ve lived alone for years since the death of my wife. My only companion is my dog, Chip. The problems started out small. I woke up one night to knocking at my front door. When I went to answer it, no one was there. I didn’t think much of it. My home is near a highway. On occasion, people would knock late at night looking for help after their car broke down. This time, there was nothing. My dog never barked. I thought I’d made it up. I went back to bed and didn’t think twice about it.
Then, it started happening once or twice a week. The dates and times were never consistent. I thought kids were playing tricks on me, but there was never flaming poop. I began to think that I made the whole thing up. I asked my neighbors, and no one had experienced anything like it.
Thankfully, the knocking stopped, but things got worse. In the morning, I found a door open sometimes, even if I locked it the night before. My home has six doors. One morning, three doors were left open. My back door had a muddy foot print on the floor.
I informed the police, but nothing was missing. They encouraged me to get an alarm system. I did. It only made things worse. The harassment stopped for a while, but it started again in December. The snow was already on the ground. I play with my dog outside. I noticed tracks that weren’t mine. They were all around the house, the yard, and onto the lake. They hadn’t been there before. I lost the tracks at the side road near my home. The tracks stopped at the lake but at several points. I tried to see if they spelled something, but they didn’t. Tracks lead to every door of the house. Even the door on the upper deck. Even scarier, they were the same size as my boots.
Things got crazier. I left Chip out one afternoon, and he didn’t come back. It’d happened a couple of times before, but he always came back. Three days later, I found him. Cuts covered his body, but they were shallow. He looked dehydrated. I carried his body back to my home and lit a fire. Once the ground was soft enough, I buried him.
I couldn’t understand it. I thought I’d lost my mind and was attacking myself. It was sleepwalking or some weird multiple personality thing. I was wrong. A few days after the death of my dog, a manilla envelope arrived in the mail. There was no return address. I opened it. I shouldn’t have. It was full of pictures. Pictures of me. Playing with my dog. Sleeping. Eating. Around town. I called the police. There were no fingerprints on the pictures, but it wasn’t illegal to take my picture.
Since then, I’ve thought about ending it. I can’t sleep. I barely eat. I carry a gun with me everywhere. People are afraid of me. My friends and neighbors have pulled away from me. I thought there was only one option left. I’d stay up late into the night, trying to muster up the courage, but I could never do it. Then, in February, I found the person trying to break into my home, or they found me. He/she was just standing outside my home, watching me. I threw on my coat and shoes. I gave chase, but he/she was fast. He ran onto the lake. The ice was still plenty thick. I pulled my gun out. I was ready to do whatever it took to end this. The person finally stopped. I raced toward him.
“Raise your hands.”
I got closer and closer. I just wanted answers more than anything.
“What do you want?”
He’s only ten yards away from me. I want to see his face. I want to know who’s been doing this to me.
“Turn around, I want to see your face.”
He doesn’t listen. I’m only a few feet away from him. I reach out to grab his shoulder. My foot feels wet. Then, my legs and my torso. The figure slips away from me. I am surrounded by soaking wet cold. I flail back to the surface and grab the edge of the hole. It takes everything I have, but I pull myself out. I am a good quarter mile from my house. The person is gone. I make it back home alive. The person isn’t there. I call an ambulance. Hypothermia is setting in. I may not survive. I know what they’ll say too. The crazy old man fell in the lake. He was losing it. He was paranoid.
I should have been a prophet. I practically foretold the future. I was stuck in a nursing home. I couldn’t afford it. I lost everything I had. The police thought I was crazy.
Months pasted. In December while sitting in an assisted living home, I received a picture. It was me climbing out of the freezing water and another picture, a young couple standing in front of my home. I didn’t recognize them. I turned it over. The picture of the couple had nothing written on the back, but the picture of me did.
It simply said ‘sorry for the trouble.’