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After 4 years of living in a studio apartment with my wife in New York, I wanted to move out to the country.

New York was great but it was too busy and the crime rate was only going up and me and my wife were talking about having a baby.

We wanted to move to a small town in Michigan. After looking around on a few websites we found a small house surrounded by a thick forest.

We rented a moving truck and we packed up and left New York. We didn't take much. As we didn't have too much, we were living paycheck to paycheck. The house we bought was small with only 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom. It looked nice from what I could tell.

A few boxes of our stuff, a few articles of furniture and our 4 year old orange tabby cat, Pudge. Pudge could never be a free roam cat in New York and our new house was surrounded by forest so we could let him outside.  Pudge was chubby but a great cat always at our side with his gravely purr.

After an eight and a half hour drive we arrived. The house was old, but it looked nice. It was a small brick house with old drafty windows and doors. The window next to the door had a hand print. It looked permanently stuck on the window.

We had lots of yard and privacy, the closest neighbor was through the few yards of thick forest. But there was a trail leading to the house. The trail was very wide. It looked like you would have to squeeze past someone else passing you by.

Pudge was excited as he could finally be free and run around the forest instead of us being too nervous to let him out into the city. When I let him out of the truck he looked up at me with his green eyes in excitement as if almost to ask.

"I can really be free and run around"?!

It took us about 2 hours to get everything in. I was so excited to finally to look out my window and see the forest instead of the city and cars. I just wanted to be outside now that I could and not hear thousands of people talking and the smell of tires and smog. Now I heard animals chatter and smelled the fresh air.

Walking inside noticed I hated the doors because they made a loud hideous screech every time they were opened. 

After we moved in, I wanted to meet our neighbors. It was about a five minute walk through the trail. It was cold and dark walking through the trail.

"Meow" 

I saw Pudge running up to me with his high pitched mew. Pudge followed me all the way up to the neighbors' house, his fat belly almost dragging against the ground as he trotted at my side.

When I arrived at the neighbors' house it was a tiny log cabin. I heard a dog whimpering and screaming , but I figured the dog saw Pudge and got excited. I knocked on the door and a man about 6 feet tall wearing a green cuffed button up plaid shirt with thick black greasy hair opened the door. Pudge hissed and ran off.

"Hey, I moved into the house off to the north," I said 

He frowned and said "Keep that cat off my lawn!" 

The door slammed. I started walking back home and about half way back I saw a woman walking down the trail. She was an elderly lady about 50 years old with gray curly hair.

"Hey," I said.

"Oh hello, I just said hello to your wife," She replied 

"I just met your husband and he slammed the door in my face," I replied.

"Sorry about him he had a bad experience with our last neighbors," she told me.

We kept walking and went our separate ways. When I got home me and my wife ate dinner and went to sleep. I woke up in the middle of the night to the cat scratching on the door. I groggily walked to the door and let him in. 

He went right to his food dish.  While he was munching away I noticed he had a piece of paper tucked in his collar. It said. 

"I see you."

I raised my eyebrow, but I passed it off as.... maybe some kids playing a prank, we did have more neighbors and I'm sure Pudge made it around the area.

I went to get a drink of water and went back to sleep. I woke up to Pudge licking my face.

I sat up and he jumped to the desk by the window. He meowed and meowed so I slid the window open and he jumped out. 

The day passed by slowly mostly consisting of me and my wife watching TV or me reading short stories on the internet.

At about five 'o clock I got a knock on the door. It was the nice lady's husband. AKA the douche bag neighbour. I wanted to slam the door in his face but I resisted.

He had Pudge by the neck scruff and said.

"Get this cat out of my sight!" 

He threw Pudge into my house and walked off.  The rest of the day was just like before.

I woke up in the middle of the night to Pudge scratching at the door again. 

I let him in and he had another note under his collar. This time it said;

"Nice key under the door mat."

I was freaked out now. So I called the police to report a possible stalker. I was pretty freaked out and when the police knocked on the door I almost jumped out of my seat in fear. 

When they arrived, they told me the last people who lived here had the same complaints of their dog with weird notes under its collar. They were found murdered 2 day later.

They also said the dog was found with a mutilated face. Almost no face at all. It was missing its eyes and nose and pieces of fat around its cheeks. It was found near the trail connecting the two properties.

The neighbor was a possible suspect because of his abusive past. He was found guilty for killing the dog but he wasn't found guilty for the murders. It scared me now knowing how violent the neighbor was to animals and Pudge being a free roam cat, I was worried for Pudge as he was such a sweet cat. He didn't get too much jail time due to his mental illness. His wife checked him out after only 2 days into his stay at the mental hospital.

Two days passed and we didn't get murdered. But the notes kept coming in on Pudge's collar.So I decided to stop letting Pudge out for a while but last night it happened. Pudge snuck out and had been gone longer than usual. I got back home from my new job. It was 2 AM. I wasn't really tired so I went to the living room and watched TV. About an hour later there was a pounding on the door window pane. It was the neighbor. He was holding... a paper? No, it was...a mask made out of bits of Pudge's face?! What the fuck? The mask was made out of cloth and pieces of Pudge's face like his nose. It was truly disturbing.

He was holding the key we kept under the welcome mat in his right hand and made a fist with his other hand and was pounding on the door. He placed Pudge's mask over his.  He was making a noise resembling a cat's meow and was shouting "Let me in I'm hungry." I got my phone and was able to snap a picture. I screamed and woke up my wife. He was trying to get in. I could hear the key rattling in the door. I ran to our room and we left out the back window.  I picked up my wife who had passed out due to fear. I sprinted to the car and laid my wife in the back seat.  I drove off and the neighbor threw the key and it hit my back window, smashing it to bits.

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I was scared out of my wits. We never got our stuff. We left town and stayed at a hotel.

Years passed and we had a normal life, we moved back to our studio apartment in New York. The image of that son of a bitch was burned into my mind.

We got a package from a strange address one day. It was from our old town. We thought maybe it was something we had left in our house that was abandoned. I opened it up and it smelled terrible, it had a thin layer of paper. I pulled the sheet up and it was Pudge's face mask.

-Rev

  

  

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