The Gray

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Firefly had been sick all day Sunday. The five year old rat terrier, usually active to the point of annoyance, couldn’t keep her food down. My wife Colleen and I had cleaned up at least four messes Firefly had left in our home office. Poor Firefly, I thought. It had been a rough couple days for her. On Saturday, due to my bumbling, she had gotten out of my yard and ran into the woods, just outside our property line. The woods were owned by an old lady, who I had hardly ever spoken to, but I knew she wouldn’t like Firefly running around on her property.

As soon as she had bolted for the woods, I was on the chase. Yelling her name and running full board, I found her within fifteen minutes. I was in a clearing, looking around, when she came into view. She appeared to be holding something in her mouth, but a quick yell of “Drop it”, ended that problem. I picked her up, she licked my face, and I carried her back to my yard.

That night, she didn’t eat dinner as vigorously as usual, but I hadn’t noticed. The next day, is when the vomiting began. It happens with dogs a lot though. You let them out into a yard, and God only knows what they eat. Leaves, bugs, twigs sometimes. It’s really surprising dogs don’t have more problems. In any case, it was time for me to go to bed, and my wife was not about to allow Firefly into our bed. However, this presents a problem. Firefly is unable to sleep alone. This means, one of us would have to sleep out in the living room with her. We decided to flip for it, and I lost. I had to couch it for the night.

The couch was an adequate place to sleep for a night. I could almost stretch out on it, and it sat next to a large picture window, where I could look up at the night sky. One could look at the constellations, planets, and shooting stars without too much trouble. I set my pillow up, put the dog bed next to the couch on the floor, and laid back. The radio was on, with “œCoast to Coast AM with George Noory” playing in the background. Firefly had curled up into a little ball and had started to snore. I glanced out the window and noticed the long shadows cast by the full moon. While I couldn’t see the moon itself, the shadow of my house made a huge outline on the yard outside the window. The large point of the roof dominated the scene.

I close my eyes and listened to the radio as I drifted off to sleep. Influenced by the paranormal content of the radio show on in the background, soon I was dreaming about being chased by a Yeti at a ski resort. The Yeti doesn’t exist and I don’t ski, so clearly I was dreaming way outside my norm. After that, I drifted off into the kind of sleep where you have no sense that you exist. It’s much what I imagine dying is like. A drift into blackness that you have no sense of.

At some point during the night, I woke up. Firefly was awake, too, making low growling noises, looking at the window. This was nothing new. She was known to growl at the slightest hint of movement. I sat up and glanced out the window myself. I didn’t see anything, just the long shadow of my house projected onto the grass. I even noticed how the moonlight made a funny outline of my roof. One side was showing a bulge, as if one side of my roof was bowed out more than the other side…and then the bulge moved.

I thought the light had to be playing tricks on me, but the bulge clearly moved, as if something was sliding down my roof. And then I saw…an arm. Or was it a branch? Something looked as if it was reaching out from the roof line. I couldn’t be sure. I could be dreaming, influenced by some crazy caller I heard on the radio, while I was sleeping. Then the arm was gone. The bulge slowly slid down the roof, growing smaller and smaller. Was someone on my roof? I fumbled for my cell phone, left on an end table. I tapped in “911”, ready to press send at the second I had confirmation. I listened for any sign of an intruder.

But I didn’t hear anything else. Twenty minutes later I was still waiting to hear the sound of footsteps on the roof, the thud of someone jumping off the roof, or the fumbling at a door or window. Nothing, though. Even Firefly, had grown bored and gone back to sleep. My heart was still racing, but I decided it was nothing. Could have been a squirrel on the roof from a funny angle, whose tail looked faintly like an arm in the light. Actually, that made perfect sense. I didn’t hear anything, and a squirrel would make almost no sound. But are squirrels nocturnal? As I tried to ponder that, I felt back asleep, the rest of the night apparently was uneventful as I didn’t wake up until seven in the morning.

Driving down to the local convenience store to get some fresh coffee beans for myself and Colleen, I came across a sheriff’s car in the road, blocking one lane. I saw a deputy, my friend Jonathan Neer , directing traffic. Curious as to what was going on, I pulled over and got out of the car.

“What’s going on Jon?” I asked as I walked up.

“You don’t want to see this, Jeff”, Jonathan replied, “It’s a real mess.”

As I got closer, I could see what he was talking about. There was a cow, obviously long dead, blocking a lane of traffic. Blood was smeared all over the road. But that wasn’t the strangest part. The head was missing, cut clean off.

“Wow, Jon, any idea what happened?”

“Nope, it was called in a couple hours ago, we’re just waiting for animal control to get here with the equipment to move the corpse. It must weigh nearly two thousand pounds.”

”Some teenage scheme?”

“Seems pretty severe for teenagers, and I’m not sure how easily they could transport a cow without serious equipment.”

“Well…where did it come from, I didn’t think a farm bordered this road.”

“A farm doesn’t. This cow was from the Amerovine farm a few miles away. The brand identified it. Right now, we want to get it off the road, and maybe tested to see it’s diseased.”

“Hmm, ok, well, good luck.”

“Thanks Jeff, oh, and by the way, your old lady neighbor called in a report last night about someone making noise out in her woods, near your yard. Just keep an eye out, ok?”

“Ok, Jon, thanks” I answered, as my heart raced again.

A trespasser report on the same night I thought I saw someone on my roof? Coincidence? Still, the old lady had heard something, and I didn’t. Could have just been some drunk kids taking a shortcut through the woods. Could be anything, I guess. I made a note to tell Colleen, so she’d keep a closer eye on Firefly. Didn’t want her getting out again.

The rest of the day was uneventful. Firefly wasn’t sick again, so I would be able to sleep in my bed again. It was another clear night, the moon as full as it would get all month. We went to bed around midnight, watched some television on the Tivo for about an hour before we tried to get to sleep. Firefly, always the bed hog, climbed underneath the covers between us. I grabbed my pillow speaker, turned on my radio, and once again listened to the paranormal rantings of “Coast to Coast AM” callers. The last caller I remember, talked about how his sister was marrying a reptilian alien who wanted to create human-reptilian hybrid children. Sure he did.

Something must have woken me up. I sat straight up in bed, instantly wide awake. I looked around, but nothing seemed amiss. I couldn’t hear anything but the snoring of my wife and Firefly. Why was my heart racing? I looked at the window, and didn’t see anything. I kept staring at the window, though, as if I expected to. A quick glance at the clock to see that it was four in the morning, barely broke my concentration on the window. It felt like I was staring for hours, the absolute silence starting to become loud inside my head. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was at the window.

Eventually, my heart stopped racing, and I’d come to think I had just awoken out of a nightmare. I sometimes remember my dreams, but not always. I had no idea if I had had a real nightmare. However, I suddenly felt the call of nature, and got out of bed to answer. As I walked by the window, I glanced out quickly. And it was then that I saw him. I assumed it was a him, anyway. He was standing flat against my house, next to the window trying not to be seen. He was kind of short, but very thin. I had seem him in my sleep. That’s what woke me up. I started to freak out. This was serious. I was being watched by someone directly outside my window. What could I do?

If I turned around, he would know I had seen him and he might do something rash. If I continued my trip to the bathroom, I might lose sight of him and have no idea where he was. I had a split second to make a decision. Hoping to avoid making him do something rash, I continued onto the bathroom, waited twenty seconds, and went back to my bedroom. Coming back, I could see he was gone. Damn, now where was he? I ran to my night stand, grabbed my phone, and dialed “911”. I reported that I had seen someone outside my window watching my wife and I.

At this point, Colleen was awake wondering just what the hell was going on. I quickly explained, and she, like me was freaked out a little. We grabbed Firefly, and barricaded ourselves in the bathroom and waited for the police. Fifteen minutes later, I received a call on my cell phone from a policeman, Jack Straiht, waiting outside my front door. I let Jack in, explained again what I had seen, and showed him where. Looking outside, Jack and his partner didn’t find anyone still on the grounds. All that he could find, was a small piece of gray fabric outside the window of my bedroom. It wasn’t anything I owned, though. Jack said it felt like some kind of polyester fabric, with a definite rubbery feel to it. He kept it as evidence if anything else came of this.

Jack assigned a squad car to patrol our area for the rest of the evening, so we could feel somewhat safe, but Colleen and I had couldn’t really sleep. Instead, we put the television on and tried to enjoy episodes of “Flip That House” that we had recorded with Tivo. At some point exhaustion took over, and we did drift off to sleep. However, at six in the morning, sirens could be heard in the background, close to our house. Not police sirens, but ambulance sirens. Firefly, as usual, howled at the sound. Too on edge to sleep anymore, I walked into the shower and tried to wake up. It had been a horrible night. Colleen went to the kitchen to start some coffee. We were just trying to get to back to some sort of normalcy.

Later that morning, I got a knock on the door. It was Jon, and he looked kind of sad.

“Jeff, that old lady was found dead this morning. Her son came over for breakfast and found her dead in the kitchen,” he blurted out clumsily.

“And..what look like you’re holding back.”

“Her neck….was sliced…and one of her hands was…chewed off.”

“Her dog maybe?”

“She gave up her dog a few months ago, gave it to a grandkid when it was too much for her.”

“How do you know it was chewed off?”

“We found…a tooth,” he said has held up a plastic baggy containing a small, almost perfectly triangular shaped tooth.

“What are you going to do with it?

“Well..some of the guys are suggesting we send it to the state wildlife commission to see if they can identify it.”

“Um, ok…so…is this connected to the trespasser last night?”

“I don’t know, Jeff. We didn’t find any evidence of a break in, not even really a sign of struggle. Looks like her neck was sliced, she died instantly, and something chewed off her hand.”

“You didn’t find the hand, did you?” I asked.

“No, just lots of blood. The neck looks like a knife, the chewed hand like an animal. I really don’t know what to say.”

“Should I get out of here?”

“Well, we will have more deputies out here…I can’t lie to you, though. There will be a risk if we’re dealing with some sort of serial killer here.”

“Serial killer?”

“The town over had a similar incident the night before.”

“What? Why wasn’t this on the news?”

“The body was actually only found this morning, we’re guessing by the mail left that it took place two nights ago.”

“I saw someone on my roof two nights ago, Jon.”

“Why didn’t you report it?”

“I thought it was a squirrel’s tail in the moonlight.”

“What? A god damn squirrel? Jesus Jeff.”

“Hey, excuse me, I didn’t exactly connect the dots to two murders discovered two days in the future.”

“Yeah, sorry, just a little on edge. Okay, look, between you and me…I think you should get out of here. Take Colleen and the dog to her parents or something.”

“Yeah, I could do that. Ok, thanks Jon, thanks for your help.”

And with that, we planned to go to Colleen’s parents for a few days. After hearing about the murders, they were already calling us and begging us to come out there. As much as we don’t like to spend time with them, we really didn’t feel like we had much choice. The night before was horrifying, and I didn’t feel safe. We grabbed as many clothes as we could. I packed up our laptops, cellphones, and whatever other electronics accessories we needed. Finally, we were ready to go, and I let Firefly out to do her business before we headed out.

As soon as I opened the door, she shot like a rocket out into the yard, straight for the fence, and in a motion I never thought I would see, climbed over the fence. Once over, she ran straight into the woods, barking loudly. Absolutely shocked, I got my head together and chased after her. Once in the woods, I couldn’t see her myself, but I could hear her barking so loudly I figured she had cornered something. Not what you call a woodsman, I did my best to try to track her down based on her barking.

As I got closer to the loudest barking, I heard other scurrying in the woods. Obviously, other animals had been disturbed by the commotion and were running for cover. Finally, I caught up to her. She was standing over a pile of animal remains, gray and hairless in appearance. I wasn’t sure what she was barking at though until I saw it. It looked exactly like the cover of “Communion.” I knew from all my reading it was what ufologists would call “A Gray”. A god damn Gray.

It looked at me, with almost no expression. It had now lost interest in Firefly, and was focused on me. I groped around for a log, stick, anything to use as a weapon, but unlike in movies, all I came up with was pieces of ferns. I was defenseless. It started walking toward me, and Firefly started to bark louder.

“Firefly, get home now!” I yelled, to no avail.

It continued walking closer to me, but this time it opened its mouth. I could see teeth. That surprised me. Nothing I ever read mentioned teeth in Grays. Then I remembered the tooth, and the missing hand. The trespasser next to my window. The murders. It all clicked.

Firefly, go home!” I yelled as loud as I could. This time, she sensed my tone and perhaps the fear I had of the Gray and I could hear her run off. Glancing over to see her, I took my eye off the Gray, and something happened of which I am not sure. Whatever it was, it knocked me unconscious.

The next memory I have is waking up to the fuzzy image of the Gray standing over me. I couldn’t move, my entire body was bound in some sort of gooey web. My muscles felt extremely tired and wouldn’t respond in a coordinated manner. And then I felt a sharp pain on my wrist. Searing, unbearable pain. I tried to focus my eyes to see what was going on, but I struggled to maintain focus. The pain in my wrist continued unabated. I tried to scream, but it came out a hoarse, guttural croak. It was at this time that I realized how thirsty I was. My throat and tongue felt cracked. The pain in my wrist was now a constant throbbing. The pain was so intense I could no longer feel my hand. All I could think about was the pain.

I could sense the Gray moving around me, changing positions. Then, through the fuzziness, I could see him moving closer to my face. It was coming into take a closer look at me, possibly for some sort of examination. It now appeared to be wearing some sort of mask over his mouth. The closer it got, the more I tried to break free, but was unable. And finally, after he was six inches from my face, I could see what it was wearing.

It wasn’t a mask. It wasn’t a piece of equipment. It wasn’t really anything you wear. It was my hand. It had my hand in his mouth, mocking me with the trophy. It brought it close to my face, all the while holding it with his mouth. My blood covered its face and its teeth. It brought the hand so close, the fingers were poking me in the face. The Gray was poking me in the face with my own severed hand. That was all my system could take, and I think I slipped into shock.

Three hours after I had left to chase Firefly, my body was found by Colleen. I don’t know if I was moved out of the woods by the Gray or not. I think I was, because I’m sure Colleen would have found me sooner. I was brought to the Gillmore hospital where I remained in a coma for one week. My arm had become infected due to the highly unclean wound. Unidentified microbes were discovered in the wound that initially hindered the healing process, but eventually the doctors were able to keep infections to a minimum. After waking up from the coma, I related the story as I saw it.

I mentioned the Gray, the web, the pain, and seeing my own hand in its mouth. No one believed me that it was a Gray. They believed the murderer was in the woods, and my memory is damaged because of the traumatic nature of the event. I can’t blame them. The healing process for me physically lasted six months. I was outfitted with a hook instead of a hand and have been able to lead a mostly normal life since the incidence.

I have nightmares about the incident. I can no longer go into woodsy areas without hyperventilating. My temper is shorter and my marriage has suffered greatly. It’s taken many hours of therapy to feel normal again. Nothing the doctor does or say, though, ever changes my mind that I know exactly who did this to me. It was the Gray.

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