's 2014 Horror Write-off:

" A Love Story "

Submitted by Kite Line - also features a SOUNDTRACK!

When I was a little kid (still in the single digits), I lived with my family out in the middle of the country, surrounded by trees and marshland. My parents bought the land from an old farmer, so there were a few run-down barns and other relics of farm life scattered around the property. My dad built our house very close to a thick, deep forest. This forest always spooked me as a kid, and it bothered me even more that my bedroom window faced it. My bedroom was initially designed as an office before being repurposed as a bedroom, so my bedroom window actually used to be a back door leading into the backyard. Having a large ground-level window a few yards away from a dark, creepy forest really unsettled me. But I didn’t let it bother me too much… I would just shut my blinds at night and distract myself with video games and cartoons, trying not to let my imagination run wild with thoughts of whatever strange monsters might be emerging from the forest to tap on my window.

Around the same time my family owned a very large dog. A Great Dane to be exact. She wasn’t allowed in the house at all, so we kept her outside and she slept in a doghouse in the backyard next to the forest. As she was my first real pet, I was very attached to her and I would spend a lot of time playing with her in the backyard. She was a very friendly, loving, playful, and protective dog. The perfect pet for a bored kid living out in the country. I felt a bit safer having her outside at night, feeling as though she would protect me from whatever might come out of the forest.

While exploring the forest with my dad and our dog, we discovered something peculiar. About 20 yards into the forest was a large circular cement structure embedded into the ground. It was a large flat ring with a circumference of about six feet with a smaller flat circle inside it. My dad told me that it was probably an old well that was abandoned long ago and filled in with cement for safety. It seemed strange to me that a well would have been built this deep in the forest, but I figured that maybe the well was really, really old and the forest merely grew around it over time long after it was abandoned.

As we turned around to make our way back home, I tripped over a nearby tree root and bumped my head on the outer ring. The impact apparently knocked me out cold and my dad had to carry me back home to get me medical treatment. I recovered just fine, but ever since that happened I began sleep-walking. During these episodes I would open up my bedroom window, crawl outside, and walk into the forest. When I would wake up the next day, I would find myself curled up on top of the weird cement structure with the dog laying down next to me (I guess she would usually follow me in to keep me safe). This would happen multiple times a month. Usually my parents would find us this way and they quickly developed a routine of automatically searching the same spot in the forest whenever they couldn’t find me in bed on any given morning. They would eventually send me to a child therapist in order to figure out what sort of “mental trauma” could be causing these bizarre sleep-walking episodes, but as I was an otherwise healthy and normal kid, nothing conclusive was determined.

Late one night during one of these sleep-walking episodes, I awoke much earlier than usual. When I awoke on top of the old sealed well it was still very late at night, and unusually the dog was nowhere to be found. Suffice to say I was pretty spooked. Recalling that the doghouse was just at the border of the forest in the backyard, I called out to her hoping she would come fetch me. After about ten minutes of calling with no dog arriving, I gave up and decided to head back alone. The forest was nearly pitch black as the tree canopy was thick, blocking out all moonlight, so the only light came from the distant yardlight in the backyard. I hastily followed the light back home, being sure to never look behind me.

When I reached the backyard I decided to check on the dog as she had not followed me into the forest this time and did not respond to my calls. As I approached the doghouse, I sensed that something was very, very wrong. I called her name a few times, but did not receive any kind of response from within the doghouse. Slowly peeking my head inside, I saw her lying stiffly in the back, faintly illuminated by the glow of the yardlight. She was silent and unmoving, her eyes were wide open and unblinking, and her face was contorted into a bizarre snarl. Suddenly feeling uneasy, I quickly went back inside the house and woke up my parents. After waiting for what felt like an eternity while they checked on the dog outside, they eventually came back in and confirmed that she had died.

This was the first time in my young life that I had experienced anything even remotely relating to death, so the event affected me rather harshly. We buried her in the backyard underneath her doghouse and held a small funeral for her. I went through the usual stages of grief, and after a few days of staying relatively straight-faced, I eventually broke down and cried. I had lost my best friend, and I no longer felt safe from the forest.

About a week or two after we buried her, my dad noticed that the burial site had been disturbed by what appeared to be a wild animal. From the forest to the dog house was a trail of sunken ground. It looked exactly like the sort of trail that moles leave in the lawn, only much, much bigger (about the size of a large wolf or dog). My father couldn’t think of any animal that size that would burrow like that, and so he could only muster something about coyotes digging up the ground. We followed the sunken trail into the forest as far as we could, but it eventually ended some feet before the old well. Upon exhuming the burial site, we noticed the corpse was gone. There was nothing we could do about it. We assumed that the body had been claimed by scavengers and went on with our life.

A couple of years went by and the pain of loss had lessened. My mind was no longer consumed with the death of my beloved dog, and I was eventually able to go back to being a normal kid. I even stopped sleep-walking after a while. When I did, I would no longer walk into the forest at night and would instead walk around the house or some other minor activity. Oddly enough, after the dog’s death I never wandered back into the forest or the old cement-filled well ever again. The episodes began lasting shorter and shorter, and eventually stopped altogether. It felt as though I had found peace at last, even if it did come at a heavy price.

Then after many nights of peace, I suddenly had another episode of sleep-walking. The first one in months. And this one came with a nightmare.

In the dream, I was in the backyard when I began to sense an odd presence. Turning my head, I witnessed my dog slowly emerging from within the forest. At first, I was thrilled! My best friend had returned, and my mind raced with all the thoughts of what we could play and where we would go. But it didn’t take long for me to notice that something was different about her. Very different.

Her eyes were sunken and white. Her body was hairless and her skin was pale, almost translucent, pocketed with red blotches and bruises. Her frame was withered, decrepit, emaciated. She was walking on her hind legs, her limbs elongated and her body and skeleton twisted and contorted into a crude anthropomorphic mockery.

I ran from her in fright, and she followed, running after me on her hind legs in a freakish gait. The worst part was that she spoke to me, begged with me, PLEADED with me in a warped, warbling, shrill voice. A dog imitating a human voice as best it could.

"Why are you running from me? I love you. Don’t you miss me? I thought you loved me."

Her head sagged and rolled around on her shoulders as she ran, her crooked neck being unable to support the weight. The look on her face was that of terrified desperation, and love... The purest form of love that I have ever seen.

When I awoke from the nightmare, I was at the old well again. My fingernails were all bloody, and a few were missing. The cement filling the well had scratches all over it, as if I had been clawing at it all throughout the night.

Ever since that night, I could no longer go into the backyard without seeing a large dark shape moving throughout the forest.