“Home sweet home.” Mark said as he looked at the farmhouse. The pandemic had change how people work and Mark was one of those people that found himself with a job where location was not so important. And so, after much discussion Amy, and their two kids had decided that selling their over inflated city home to make the move to a small country town would not only allow them to buy a larger home, but the cost of living was also considerably less.
“I can’t believe this is ours.” Amy said staring at the farmhouse with the wrap around porch with a swing on it. She looked to the right and saw nothing but forest, she looked to the left saw much of the same. Not another home anywhere in sight. “Can you believe this Mark? No neighbours, no sirens, just birds chirping and clean air.”
“No, I can’t, it still hasn’t sunk in. Not to mention no one with Covid up here.”
Amy nodded. “Alright kids, there are four bedrooms, master is ours. Go choose your rooms.” Both of the kids took off running for their new home. The screen door of the porch swung open and banged against the wall.
“Hey, be careful we just bought this home!” Mark yelled out.
Amy laughed. “Guess they are excited to become country folk too!”
“I think it’s time we broke in this country kitchen!” Mark said.
“This mean you’re cooking?” Amy smiled.
Marked winked. “And the kids can clean up!”
Mark woke to the sound of birds chirping and the sun shining in through a small break in the curtains. He was used to having to pull the curtains tight at night so neighbours would not look in that he had done it out of routine and realized he could have left the curtains open. He looked over at Amy who was still sleeping and glanced at the clock, 7am. The kids wouldn’t be up for a while, he thought he’d get up and have a cup of coffee on the porch.
The smell of coffee wisped through the house and he poured a second cup and left it on the kitchen counter. Mark guessed that when the smell got upstairs Amy wouldn’t be far from waking up.
Outside he sat on the porch and swung back and forth looking out over the fields and forest that was divided in half by the driveway. His eye caught large animal prints around the car, he got up and walked over to them curious to find out if he could guess which animal these belonged to. They were large, bigger than his hand, and looked like a large bear or cat print. He followed them over to the garage, which had a rusting tractor in it and the tracks disappeared into the field of tall grass.
“What are you doing over there?” Amy yelled out from the porch.
“We had a visitor last night, looks like maybe a bear or something.”
“That’s my kind of neighbour.” Amy said.
Mark walked back up and joined her on the porch. “Until it tries to stick it’s paw in the honey jar.” Mark sat down, wondering if he should take a trip into town and get something to protect them from the bear or whatever animal had paid them a visit.
Mark had gone into town later that day and asked the local hardware shop if he knew of any bear repellant. The clerk smiled and chuckled. “Sir, a bear will go where a bear wants. Just be aware and teach the kids bear safety.”
Amy laughed across from him, as Mark told her the story. “We are so city, and this is so country.”
Mark shook his head. “I never felt so stupid…and that sounds like a bad country song.”
“Don’t feel stupid, we don’t know these things. The furthest we went into the country was your parent’s cottage and that was only an hour away from our old home in the city.”
“True.” He watched the kids clean up from dinner and took a sip of his coffee. “Shall we retreat to the porch swing?”
Amy nodded and the both of them walked outside to take part in their nightly routine of after dinner coffee outside on the porch.
The sun had set, darkness fell over the farm. Mark was amazed at how dark it was and how bright the stars were. Amy looked out over the darkness. Something started to make her feel uncomfortable. Like she was being watched. They had spent a couple of nights on the porch since moving up here and never had she felt uneasy. “I think I am going to go in now.” Amy said.
Mark looked up to her as she stood. “Everything okay?” He asked.
She looked around the darkness. “I think so, I just feel…just feeling off tonight.”
Mark nodded. “I hope it wasn’t the food. I’ll be in shortly going to enjoy looking up at the stars a bit longer.”
“No…dinner was awesome, just a weird feeling.” Amy went inside, to see what was new on Netflix.
Mark stared out at the tree line that bordered their property, it was just a bit darker than the field it bordered. The driveway split the field in half, he imagined that at one time corn or something grew here. Maybe he’d try to grow something here one day. Mark had to do a double take as he noticed something glowing at the treeline. Two yellow eyes burned a hole in the night. Mark sat up straight in his chair and watched these yellow orbs start to bob and get closer. But he couldn’t see what they belong to. Then another set of eyes, and another, and another appeared until eight sets of eyes appeared at various distances but all bobbing, all moving straight for him and his family.
Slowly Mark got to his feet and watched the animals get closer and closer. The moon popped out from behind a cloud and the gloom brightened. He could see a hulking shape behind the yellow eyes. The animal in front stopped and got to its hind legs, the other animals of its pack stopped behind it. Mark couldn’t tell how large it was, but he knew it was larger than he was. Shivers started at his shoulders and neck move down his body like a wave and suddenly he had the fight or flight feeling. The animal and Mark locked eyes and then the animals started to run. Covering the space between Mark and the tree line quicker than Mark could have anticipated.
They were nearly at the wooden fence that separated field from the driveway just before the house. Fear flowed through Mark, he turned, dropping his coffee mug that shattered and ran for the door slamming it behind him. A second later there was a crash and the door shook violently. Amy looked over from the couch, the kids peaked up from behind their iPad and Nintendo Switch and all looked at Mark. Who was sweating, pale, and his chest heaving with quick breaths.
“What was that? Are you okay?” Amy noticed how shaken up Mark was.
Mark shook his head, that is when he heard something scratching at the door right behind his head. Mark pictured ribbons of wood peeling away from the door. Mark was now shaking as adrenaline coursed through him.
A bang echoed through the house, everyone looked up. Something was on the second-floor walking around the overhang. The second floor of the house was smaller than the main floor, which left about five feet of roof overhang.
“The windows are they closed upstairs!” Mark said quickly.
Amy instantly got up and started running for the second-floor stairs. The only window she could recall being opened was the one in their room. Running as fast as she could she got to the master bedroom and slammed the window shut. Finished off by locking it and pulling the drapes shut. Repeating this through the entire second floor to ensure the house was as secure as possible.
When Amy got back down to the main floor the kids were sobbing, Mark was holding both of them, an arm draped over each of them holding them tightly. She moved to them and sat down wrapping her arms around them all.
Outside they could hear the animals walking on the porch, the wooden floorboards creaking. They could hear the windows shudder, the sound of the claws scratching wood then changing as they hit the window. But the animals didn’t seem to pay attention to the thin glass or change in material. Then silence. Nothing, not a sound came from outside.
“Is it gone daddy?”
Mark looked down at his daughter. “I don’t know.” He released his kids and they fell into Amy as he got up.
“What are you doing Mark?”
“I have the keys to the SUV in my pocket, get to the SUV, bring it right to the door, and get out of here. That is what we are doing.” Mark looked to the door and took a deep breath. There was a window on either side of the door, slowly he pulled the curtains open and looked out. There in the field he could see the eyes. He counted on his fingers, three. He tried to remember how many animals he had seen, but wasn’t sure if it was three or four? His mind was foggy with fear. He had to take the chance. He looked back at Amy. “I see them in the field, they have yellow eyes, watch for the eyes and yell if they run for me. If I can make it to the SUV we can get out of here. They may not like the bright lights of the SUV.”
Mark thought maybe they should all make a break for it. But that would be slow, he needed the SUV ready, doors open, maybe even back up to the door, right up the steps and open the tail gate so everyone else can sneak in. He put his hands on the door handle and slowly started to twist the dead bolt, it clicked open. Turning the door handle he inched the door open, his eyes scanning as much as possible.
The door was now wide enough for him to run for the SUV, out into the darkness he went
“Stay here.” Amy said as she got up and walked to the door, her hand on the doorknob, she kept an eye out for the lights to come on, but the SUV remained a dark shadow. She heard the sound of footsteps on the gravel and from the darkness she saw Mark’s hand appear, blood on this bare arm, his head peaked out of the darkness the rest of him covered in murky black. Behind him two golden eyes shun in the night. She looked to Mark’s face, it was full of terror and fear. His mouth was gaping open. She heard him yell for her, then he was yanked back into the darkness. The yell echoed and the world quickly went silent. Mark was gone.
Amy slammed the door, flipped the dead bolt, and gather her kids up that were hysterical with fear. Grabbing both under her arms, not even aware she had lifted them of the ground and was running for the master bedroom. Slamming the master bedroom door behind her she huddled the kids in the back corner away from the window. She didn’t have time to think of Mark, her family is what was important now.
The door downstairs opened and slammed with a power she had never heard before. Things were being turned over, knocked over as the animals scrambled around. The dead bolt did nothing to slow them down. Then her greatest fear came to life as she heard the sounds of footsteps on the stairs, each step the wood creaked under the weight of the creature. Her children had their eyes closed and buried in her armpits as she stared at the door.
The door swung open slowly and a murky shadow that filled the entire doorway, standing up on hind legs was in view. The glowing yellow eyes stared at her. She screamed.
Outside the scream echoed through the forest and fields, but then it was replaced with a deathly silence and the horror that had taken place in the farmhouse was swallowed by the darkness.
Written by F.C. Janes