The note in the mailbox

I was stressed and tired. Exhausted, to be honest. Just the same way I felt when arriving home on most days. I was glad to finally be home, though.

Nothing helped to relieve the stress of another long day, like making my way home to my wife and our house that we were actually able to buy together. Nothing in the world could make me happier after a long day at the office. It was always that much harder when I couldn’t get home until this time. It was just about dusk as the last few bits of pink light came down over the clouds.

My ritual when I got home was to pick up the paper if it was present, like today, and stop by the mailbox before going in. I grabbed the contents without checking through them and made my way for the door, eager to finally get some relaxation.

My wife was at the dinner table on her laptop. She looked up at me over her glasses and questioned me wearily.

“Would you mind making dinner tonight? I have an essay due in 4 hours that I haven’t even started, and work was crazy today.”

I gave her a kiss on the head, hugging her for a moment, and responded.

“Of course, baby. As long as you’re ok with burgers again.”

“Sounds great, I’m starving. Thank you.” She said.

As I reached the kitchen, I started to look through the mail. Mostly junk and a few paper bills, but in the middle, I found something strange. There was a handwritten note on a folded over sheet of paper. I read it to myself as I set the rest of the junk mail down.

“Hey, neighbor!

I don’t want to put you off or come across as rude. I just thought that I would let you know that your lights in the backyard are blindingly bright. 

We are not able to enjoy ourselves in the backyard if those things are on and, they even bother us when we are inside.

Again, I really don’t want to be a bother, but I thought there might be a chance that you did not realize this was the case. Maybe there is a better solution for your lighting back there?”

I instantly felt terrible and handed the note over to my wife. We had recently installed some motion sensor lights in the back yard for security. The sliding glass door always worried me, and I felt that anyone attempting to come in would be deterred by some bright lights by it.

“It’s from one of the neighbors behind us. I didn’t realize how invasive those lights would be. I’ll take them off while I grill. We can just use the lantern back there until we can find something less intrusive.”

She nodded in agreement after going over the note.

“Yeah, I would hate to be a nuisance to them. Sounds like the type of neighbors that would go to the HOA also, and that’s the last thing we need.”

I gathered everything I needed to make some a couple of burgers and a screwdriver to take down the lights.

I threw the burgers on the grill and cut on the lantern before making sure all power was out to the motion lights. As I was taking the screws out, I heard what sounded like some rustling in the bushes along our back fence.

I turned around for a moment, but when I couldn’t see anything in the direction, I wrote it off as a squirrel or maybe even a raccoon. We had plenty of critters running around in this area, fun to watch during the day but could be a little spooky at night.

Before long, I had the light taken down, and the burgers were looking nice and juicy. I took them off the grill and made my way back inside, locking the door behind me. I got everything ready and brought some plates to the table with burgers and chips with some iced tea to wash it all down.

We talked about how terrible our days went and how we couldn’t wait until Friday so we could finally go to the movies. We finished our dinner and had gone on talking for quite a while. When time seemed to be slipping from us, I reminded her that she needed to get back onto her paper.

She thanked me for dinner and gave me a kiss letting me know that she would get the dishes when she finished her paper. I told her I would leave her to it and that I was so tired I was just going to go ahead and turn in.

Once I had taken a shower and got into the bed, I was asleep after only one chapter of my book. I was having the strangest dreams until I was awoken by my wife grabbing my shoulder and speaking to me in a hushed and panicking tone.

“I think there is somebody in the back yard. I keep hearing the weirdest noises.”

I was a bit skeptical as this was not the most abnormal occurrence when it came to my wife. Anything could really set her off if she hadn’t been sleeping enough or was really stressed out in the middle of the night. I always humored her, though, and I made my way to the dining area by the sliding glass door with our trusty baseball bat that we kept under the bed.

I peeked through the blinds first and couldn’t see anything moving. It was fairly dark, so I thought I would go a step further to help ease her mind. I opened the door and stepped halfway out and called out to whatever or whoever might be there.

“Hey, anybody back here?”

I paused for a moment and looked around. Still seeing nothing, I ducked back inside and closed the door behind me.

“See? All good.”

I told her this, but she looked strangely unassured. After giving some shifty glances around my shoulder and into the backyard, she responded.

“This time was different, babe. I was hearing footsteps out there. Right before I came to get you, I could have sworn I heard a screeching sound coming from right here on the glass door.”

I looked at her with a face of compassion and held her tight for a moment.

“Look, I know it can get spooky up by yourself at night sometimes. Just keep the bat right here with you. I will be able to hear you if you call me from down the hall easily. Try to relax and finish up your paper, though. I know this degree is really important to you.”

She seemed to give up and took the bat from me and nodded her head.

“Yeah, it’s probably nothing. Thanks for coming out and helping me feel better. Go get some rest.”

The next day it was back to the old grindstone. We both got ready for work and ate a quick breakfast before making our way to our respective places of business. The day carried on until I was back in the same beat down state as the day before. That is when I got the message as I was packing up to leave.

It read, “Baby, please get home as soon as you can. I just saw this video from our camera last night, and I’m freaking out. I’m going to call the police.”

There was a video attached to the message from our backyard camera. The night vision was turned on, and there was a man dressed in all black and wearing a mask that looked like a sheep’s face. He was walking on our back patio but then ducked out of the way when the blinds were opened.

After that, he popped up right in front of the camera. He made a slow and deliberate waving motion. He then held up a large butcher knife and put one finger to his mouth in a shushing motion. Walking over to the glass door, he placed the blade on the glass and dragged it across before ducking around the corner.

He was sitting right there later in the video when I came out with the bat. Sitting there, watching me from just a few feet away.

I dropped everything and rushed home in a panic. I did not live far from my job, so I beat the cops there and pulled into the driveway in a frenzy. I had the note that I found the night before in my mind as I pulled up. This being the case, I noticed that for some reason, my mailbox was left open.

I ran over to check the mailbox, and there was one folded piece of paper that looked much like the one from a day before. It appeared to be the same handwriting as before, only this time it was in large print and all capital letters. Scribbled on with no intention of masking intent.

“NOW TURN OFF YOUR FUCKING CAMERAS”

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