Photo 123rf.com©️Fernando Cortés
There was something in the washer. I heard it spinning and thrashing water around. I lifted the lid, and it stopped abruptly.
My favorite jeans.
God bless that woman because she was the best damn mother in the universe! Not to mention, she remembered to wash my favorite pair of jeans for school the next day.
On Fridays St. Luke’s Academy, let us dress down, as in no dodgy uniforms that smelled of burnt iron and downy.
My two younger sisters, Brianna and Ellie, were arguing, and our dog, Pete, was barking his head off at them.
“You two ever shut up?” I yelled up from the laundry room in the basement.
I heard Pete bark again.
“Shut up, Ellie! I didn’t take your sweater!”
I was glad I was a senior and would be out of this house in less than four months for Ohio State on a Biology scholarship.
I was planning on going to school to be a Veterinarian, and it’s one of the best universities on the planet.
“I’m not joking, Bri, I know you wore it! I bet if I go in your room right now, I’m going to see it!”
I rolled my eyes and went upstairs to lock myself in my bedroom till supper. I heard Ellie scream just as I approached the top of the basement stairs.
Pete was part Husky, which meant he had the genes of an escape artist. Once out, he could be gone for hours. Pete, missing, meant I wasn’t going to my bedroom to relax. It also meant that I’d have to help my sisters find him.
I groaned, “How the hell did this happen?” I looked at Ellie and Brianna, who had at least stopped fighting.
“Ellie opened the door to take the garbage out, and he just ran out!”
“Well, if someone wasn’t yelling at me, I might have been more careful!”
I put on my jacket and grabbed my phone to use it as a flashlight. It was already dark out and only six o’clock.
We patrolled all the nearby houses and streets — not a sign of Pete anywhere. I wasn’t worried, though, and he’d gotten out before but always found his way back. Plus, he was microchipped.
An hour passed, and Pete was still missing, so we decided to go home and wait it out.
Two days later and Pete was still missing, so my sisters and I made “Lost Dog” flyers. We hung them up around the community and even put some up outside our school, hoping the following Monday, one of our friends from the neighborhood may have seen Pete.
Ellie was hanging up a flyer towards the back of our school, where some of the kids would sneak away to vape or skip class when she noticed an old station wagon pulling in behind her. At first, she thought nothing of it; she thought maybe it was the weekend janitor.
There was something out of place about how old and rickety it was, however, as she would relay to me later. The way the engine knocked as it remained parked and it let out a smell of old gasoline. How did this thing pass an e-check?
She began to feel eyes on her, and she turned towards the vehicle, now feeling unnerved by its presence. She told me she was trying not to appear frightened, but then it began to pull away when Brianna and I came around to check on her.
That was the end of it.
The following week went by and no sign of Pete. We had begun to get worried that we may never see our beloved pooch again when we received our first call.
I was watching the news, and some segment came on about a missing college student. She was your typical cheerleader type with blonde hair and big blue eyes. She was pictured wearing a college sweatshirt. I thought nothing of it as my phone vibrated from my pocket. I pulled out my phone and answered it.
My cellphone number was listed on the “Lost Dog” flyers because I was the oldest and more responsible one of the three of us.
“You’re missing a dog.” The caller had said.
“Yes,” I said blankly, thinking it was an odd way to start a conversation with a statement rather than something more conventional like “oh, I’m calling about the lost dog..”
“His name is Pete, according to your flyer. Should I call him Pete?”
I began to get a peculiar feeling about the caller and almost hung up when I heard a dog barking in the background.
“Did you find my dog, sir?”
“Yeah, want to pick him up today? Say around five?”
I was happy and excited to be getting our dog back finally! “Yes, just give me your address, and I’ll be there!”
“Forty Two Everest Ave …” he hung up.
I was too excited to think anything was off about it. The stranger was odd, but I let it go because I’d have Pete back by the end of the day.
I also was stupid and didn’t bother to tell anybody where I was going, not Brianna, Ellie, or my parents!
I knew the roundabout area of where the mysterious caller lived. I turned off the main road and down towards what used to be an old storage yard. There was a small brick house next to a forest of trees, and I could only go so far because the driveway was completely muddy.
I pulled up halfway so my car wouldn’t get stuck in the deeper end. I got out of the car and surveyed my surroundings. I walked up to the door of the tiny house, which had a NO TRESPASSING sign, and I knocked.
Nobody came to the door, so I walked toward the back of the house. I saw a thick chain connected to a large doghouse and secretly prayed he hadn’t been keeping Pete there.
I heard a bark coming from a storage garage at the end of the driveway, and I walked quickly towards the barking.
I got just inside the entry of the garage, which was dark inside. The only thing I saw was the shape of a dog’s head and two glowing eyes reflecting the small amount of sunlight on this cloudy day.
It was quickly Pete, the shape of the head, the size. I bent over and patted my thighs.
“C’mon Pete! C’mon boy!”
What happened next was downright terrifying. What I thought was Pete, was a figure now standing up inside the dark garage. It was- a man! He began barking in a high pitch – almost mocking the sound of a real dog.
He ran towards me with a ball bat in hand and spikes sticking out of it. I ran towards my car and got in. As I sped away, I saw the man who had to stop because he had a large chain around his neck connected to the large dog house.
What the hell?
I sped away so fast and drove 60 most of the way home. I was still shaking when I pulled into the driveway.
I thought of going to the cops, but soon they found us.
I got out of my car, and there on the porch was Pete. He was covered in mud from head to toe. I forgot about the crazy stranger I had encountered a few moments before and ran to greet him.
My mother burst open the front door frantically.
“Please tell me Ellie is with you?”
“She’s been missing since this morning, and she never made it to school!”
I looked at Pete covered in mud, and while I was so happy to have him, I thought of that crazy stranger. I wasn’t sure if it was connected, but I told my mom everything.
Soon the police arrived, they took a statement, and when I told them about the crazy man wearing the dog mask, they both chuckled.
“Old Red strikes again. He likes to get a kick out of scaring kids in the area. We will go out there and take a look. I believe he pranked you.” One of the officers said.
“What the hell? That’s funny? That was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen how is he not locked up?” I Was frantic and frightened for the well-being of my little sister.
The first two days, Ellie was missing was something out of a nightmare. My parents were zombies who clutched their phones tightly in hopes of hearing some positive news.
It never came. Weeks passed, and one morning I was on my way to school, Brianna, with me. We had both grown sullen the last month. Especially when we thought of our poor sister, that’s when I pulled up to a stop sign. Next to it was a telephone pole with a large lost dog flyer. It was a little warped from the weather, but someone had laminated it so you could still see the photo of the dog.
The dog pictured was being held by a woman whose photo looked vaguely familiar.
I couldn’t place it just then.
I pulled away, still trying to think of where I had seen her before.
I got to school, and then it hit me.
The photo was of that woman who I saw on the news a few weeks back that had gone missing.
I recalled it quickly now because I remembered thinking she was pretty.
Now my young mind began to wander.
What were the chances of two lost dog photos and two missing girls?