Greetings, Geeks! This week we bring a new feature to The Geek Embassy: serialized fiction! Mark is sharing a short story with a Lovecraftian aesthetic for your reading pleasure. This story will be shared in three parts and conclude on Halloween. Without further ado, The Geek Embassy presents, Part One of A Strange Occurrence. ~Regina
In hindsight, I should have realized there was more to the strange things occurring in my back yard this last summer. But as we all know strange things happen all the time. Or at least they seem strange on the surface of it, but after a little investigation, we find that something that at first seemed odd is just a normal random occurrence. However, most of us do not take the time to investigate further…. If we did, I suppose we would find out that sometimes strange happenings really are more fantastic than we could have believed.
It started in early June with a rabbit. I took the dogs outside around 9:30 that morning as I do every day. The two little dogs, Schipperke mixes, ran around the other side of the house to do their business near the yard debris pile. My larger lab mix dog, Baron, merrily gave chase to the large ball I threw from the back porch. I pondered how it could be so muggy when it was only seventy degrees out as I waited for him to retrieve his ball.
I realized after a few seconds that he wasn’t bringing his ball back at all. I looked out across the lawn and watched as he sniffed around a small patch of barren earth in the middle of the yard that hadn’t been there yesterday. He then caught a scent and followed it eagerly. He sniffed here and there, zigzagging over the scent until he followed it to a back corner of the yard where there were some small shrubs planted. It was there that he became quite interested in something. Being a long time dog owner I knew that whatever he had found, I most likely didn’t want him getting into it.
As I hurried across the yard, I called out for him to leave it. He looked up at me, his eyes pleading me to allow him his prize. But he was a good boy and left it for me to inspect. As I got near where he stood I could make out the back two-thirds of a large buck rabbit. It appeared that the top third of the animal was tucked under one of the shrubs. It had been eviscerated, and by the look of it, its entrails had been taken.
After the discovery of the dead critter, I herded the dogs back inside as quickly as I could. I did not need the added aggravation of keeping them from the carcass as I worked to dispose of it. I then collected my gloves that I use when working in the yard, as well as my shovel, and went to the debris pile where I dug a small grave for the poor rabbit. After that was accomplished, I crossed the back yard to where the rabbit carcass was, along the way still marveling at how it could be so muggy when it was only seventy degrees. Upon reaching the poor varmint, I grabbed it by the back legs and discovered that the top third of the body had been torn away, and not hidden under the shrubbery as I had previously presumed. It was strange that a predator would take the top third of a rabbit when the majority of the meat is located on the bottom two-thirds of it. Though I supposed it could have been interrupted from its meal and fled. I shrugged to myself and then carried what remained of the animal away to be buried.
I mentioned the incident later that day at lunch to my wife, Alexandra. She explained that the barren patch of yard where Baron had found the scent of the rabbit had been dug up by her. When she had taken the dogs out at 6:30 that morning she, or rather the dogs, had found the entrails of the poor little bugger. After shooing the dogs away, she grabbed a shovel, scooped up the guts and then deposited them on top of the yard debris pile where our dogs were less likely to get to them.
She too thought it was strange that whatever had killed the rabbit had left the majority of the meat behind. We also wondered what could have brought the little guy down. Sure, a medium build or larger dog could do it, but it hadn’t been ours. The dogs only ever go outside with either my wife or myself. And, at the time, we didn’t live in a town where dogs were just allowed to go about wherever they pleased. In fact, I had never seen a stray dog there. Also, the rabbit had been eviscerated very neatly. Not ripped or torn like you would expect from another animal preying upon it. Finally, we gave up on figuring the whole thing out and didn’t think much about it. At least not until later.
It was about three or four days later that I came across a squirrel that had died in a similar fashion to the rabbit. Again the little critter had lost its head and the guts were missing. I didn’t think on it for very long before I picked it up, tossed it on the debris pile and went on with my day. This continued to happen on and off for a few weeks. During that time Alex was finding dead animals from time to time too. They were typically no larger than a squirrel or a large bird. We began to joke about the killer in the backyard. If we had known then what I know now, I don’t think we would have been so cavalier about the body count that was being accrued in our own back yard. In fact, I know we would have fled for our lives.