It started as a typical Halloween for me and my children, costumes, trick or treating and candy! The only difference was the absence of my husband, who mysteriously disappeared from the cemetery by our house two weeks ago!
I vividly remember the night he went missing. Our dogs were barking at an ominous full moon that cast shadows dancing under the tall oak trees that surrounded the cemetery. The headstones laid less than 100 feet from our front door, just over the fence that surrounded our yard. The dogs had been barking for hours, when finally Michael, my husband, departed the house to investigate. Michael was a veteran of Afghanistan and a decorated cop; he knew how to handle any situation. He headed out the door with the Glock he carried off-duty, which he was deadly accurate with, night or day. He had only been gone about fifteen minutes, when I heard the shots; six or seven! I immediately called 911. The cemetery had been plagued with drug dealers and vagrants; I feared the worst!
It hadn’t been twenty minutes after I heard the shots when Sheriffs Deputies arrived and began to search the area. They found nothing but his Glock with eight rounds in the magazine, seven brass casings and two raggedly excavated graves. Deputies searched through the night and several hours into the next morning and found nothing else. The excavated graves were the most recent additions to the cemetery and belonged to the husband of our neighbor who had passed three years ago and the other to Joe, an unmarried journalist who died two weeks ago from a mysterious illness after returning home from an assignment in Iraq and the only other man I had been with other than my husband. Joe was a loner and had helped me with the yard work and other chores while Michael was in Afghanistan. Michael and I had a big fight the day before he left for Afghanistan and he had not called or written for a month; Joe had been mowing the yard, taking the trash to the road and been a shoulder to cry on when times were tough. It seemed as if it were meant to be.
After several days of searching the local area, fragments of human remains had been located, scattered between my house and the church I attended about two miles away. DNA testing confirmed some were from my husband of 10 years and the others belonged to the widow’s husband. Joe’s body hadn’t been found. We buried all they found of my husband three days later. What enemy of humanity could have done this? How can I explain this to our children? Nothing was ever going to be the same, but getting the kids back into a routine is what all my family and friends recommended, “you need to be strong for them!”
Getting into a routine was extremely difficult. People were finding family pets and live stock mutilated and half eaten, those that survived had chunks of meat and flesh missing. Then the reports of strangers and vagrants wandering through the woods and missing hunters polluted the nightly news. Our small community was no longer safe.
The events of the past two weeks had everybody on edge especially with today being Halloween. I didn’t think I was going to be able to handle the evening’s events with all the children so the older children, Mary, Kelly and Stephen, went to spend Halloween with my parents. My toddlers Jake and Peyton and I have plans to go Trick or Treating at the church, if Jake feels better. Earlier today Jake had been bitten by our dog, Diamond! This was not like Diamond and he had been acting strange since yesterday evening. He attacked Penny, our other dog, last night. I was lucky to get Penny inside before she was severely hurt and the look in Diamond’s eyes was like nothing I had ever seen. His dark eyes appeared lifeless and I had to drag him to the confinement of the old dog run we had in the back yard, he growled and snapped at me the whole way.
Feeling better, Jake really wanted to go trick or treating, so the three of us departed for the church. The church parking lot was packed with children and parents collecting candy from the members of our community. Out of my peripheral vision by the corner of the church, I saw Joe, the missing journalists I had been with and that was once buried in the cemetery. He appeared to be staggering and lurking around. Spooked and unsure of who or what I saw, an uneasy feeling elevated in my spine; it was late and time to go home.Upon returning home I locked up the house and put pajamas on the kids and put them in bed with me. We were all tired and quickly fell asleep. Later, I was woken by sharp pains in my leg and when I reached down to feel what was wrong and only felt deep, jagged craters in the flesh. I knew the warm fluid saturating my hand was blood. My phone was playing the tone that I set for emergency text messages. I flipped open my phone to call 911 and saw the text, “EMERGENCY PUBLIC ADDRESS ANOUNCEMENT!” I jumped out of bed to turn on the television and immediately fell to the floor; I couldn’t walk from excruciating pain in my leg! I reached for the lamp on the night stand and as the light came on something bit my forearm. As I focused my attention towards my arm a chunk of flesh was missing and I saw Jake covered in blood! I screamed, he growled and lunged! I tried to get out of the room but couldn’t, my thigh and lower leg have been eaten to the bone. Jake growled again; I lost consciousness!