Walking out of the office, June felt the night air in a way that was uncommon for a northwest Louisiana night in October. It was as if shards of ice sliced through her body. The wind felt like it was cutting her to the bone with every gust and whip of her hair. She was reminded of her grandmother’s saying that the weather in the South was bi-polar. Luckily, she always carried a heavy sweater at this time of the year.
As she walked over to her beat-up old pickup truck, something caught her attention in the corner of her eye. The keys were already sliding into the lock when she felt a presence approaching her. June sensed the hair on the back of her neck stand up. Never had she felt as vulnerable as she did at this very moment. Her efforts to open the door were unsuccessful as something grabbed her shoulder.
“Leave me alone!” The scream ripped itself from her lungs. Both hands were thrown up in a defensive posture ready to fight if it came down to it. June had her keys poised as if she were prepared to cut anyone or anything. Spinning around to meet her supposed attacker, she realized it was just her co-worker. It was Zander.
“June are you okay?” His voiced quieted the fear that swelled in her chest.
“You nearly lost an eye. I thought you were a rapist or a murder.” Air rushed out of her lungs as she released the breath she had been holding when she thought her life was on the line.
“I saw you walk across the parking lot and tried to catch you before you left. I didn’t mean to scare you.” He explained apologetically.
“My god, Zander. You nearly scared me to death. You put the fear of God in me. Why were you trying to catch me anyway?” Came the question with ease as she realized it was just him. Zander was as harmless as a fly. He was a lot weird and a lot annoying, but he was totally harmless.
“Well, I was just wondering if you could give me a ride home. My mom said she would pick me up, but she was called into work at the last minute.” He explained.
“You almost gave me a heart attack just for a ride home. Good lord. Come on let’s get the heck out of here. Something about this night is creeping me out.” June opened her door and as she slid onto the seat, she reached over and opened the door for her co-worker. The key turned over with ease in the ignition, and the radio serenaded the occupants inside the cab.
“...I don’t mind not going to heaven. As long as they’ve got cigarettes. As long as they’ve got cigarettes in hell.”
“I know this song. I’ve always liked the lyrics.” Zander shared as if she asked for his opinion. June turned to glance at his face. He was an odd character. Everyone at work always speculated that he lived with his mother and had never been laid. Just from looking at him and the way he carried himself, it was most likely true. Even though he was rather tall and kind of cute, his weirdness outweighed anything good he had going for him. She couldn’t help but snicker a little at the thought.
“I always thought you were a nice person. I never thought you were like everyone else.” The words flowed from his tongue in an eerily calm fashion.
“I’m sorry. What was that?” The southern drawl in her words screamed to anyone listening that she was a country girl. She wasn’t quite sure of what he said, but she continued driving since she wasn’t really interested anyway.
“Never mind.” He replied with a little underlying note of resentment.
They rode the short distance in silence with the exception of the gentle hum from the radio. June was concerned about the heavy workload which had been placed on her as part of her new promotion. She didn’t really pay attention to her passenger as she drove and planned the next day’s schedule in her mind.
“June?” Her name was spoken softly by her co-worker.
“Yeah Z. What’s up?” She replied in the bubbly manner she was known for.
“Are you a superstitious person?” Zander asked the question in a harmless manner.
“No, not particularly. Why do you ask?” She responded pretending to care about what he was saying, even though she could care less.
“Oh, it’s nothing.” The faintest whisper was barely heard from him.
June continued to drive. She knew exactly where Zander lived. They had been neighbors since their first day in middle school together. He lived about two miles down the road from her parent’s house. Even though he wasn’t someone she would call a friend, she often felt bad for him because he had no friends and no siblings. His weirdness drove everyone away from him.
As thoughts of the past flashed through her mind, she remembered that he had always been quiet and reserved. From time to time, she would sit with him at lunch because most people treated him like a pariah. She didn’t care that he was weird. June didn’t fault him for being just different.
“Well, thank God we made it here safely.” June burst out all of a sudden as she pulled up in front of Zander’s house. She looked over at him. He sat there as if he was reluctant to leave.
“Can I ask you a question?” His demeanor seemed stranger than usual.
“Sure. What’s up?” She asked with ease.
“Do you really believe there is a God?” June turned as her green-blue eyes took in the person sitting next to her. For the life of her, she couldn’t understand why he asked the question or what was up with the creepy vibes he was giving off. As hard as she tried to be nice to him, she wasn’t in the mood for any of his creepy bullshit tonight or any night for that matter.
“Zander, I think it’s time for you to go, hun. My schedule is pretty rough tomorrow, so I really need to get goin.” Her voice was very stern.
“Ok, see you tomorrow.” He replied in a nonchalant manner. As he exited the truck, June shook her head at just how unpredictable he was becoming. The moment he shut the door, she drove off with her tires squalling.
Her porch light came into view in a matter of seconds. June pulled into her drive and hopped out of the truck. Something urged her to briskly walk the ten feet from her driveway to her front door. As she slid the key into the lock, a broken twig announced to her that she was not alone. For a few seconds, she battled with the door to get it opened. June was seconds away from entering her place of safety in her home but was unsuccessful in resisting the urge to turn around to see what made the sound.
“Oh my God. Please NO!!!” She let out a scream that would wake the dead and scare them to back into death. Something slammed her body against the front door to her home with such force, it knocked the breath out of her lungs. The light mumbling fighting its way out of her lungs were her last efforts in an attempt to cry for help.
As blood gurgled in her mouth and she felt the agonizing sensation of being choked by her own blood, nothing saved her body or her mind from the blinding pain as it ripped, tore, slashed and gnawed through her body.
The crunching snarling sounds could be heard by June for just a few minutes before her lifeless body was shredded and dragged away.
Detective Morton walked onto the crime scene and what he saw made him instantly sick to his stomach.
“What happened Tony?” He asked the crime scene investigator.
“It seems like a wild animal ripped her trachea and her organs out,” Tony replied as he collected his equipment.
They stood in the spot hovering over the body as they discussed what appeared to have happened to the deceased. Detective Morton spotted something a few feet from the victim. He walked over and saw a handful of jet-black fur.
“What did you find detective?” Tony asked.
“It looks like dog fur.” The detective replied and dismissed it as a clue.