Beads of sweat were running down my forehead when I pulled the thermometer out of my mouth. Much to my disgust, my fever showed no signs of slowing down. I still had a temperature of 104 degrees. Some vacation, I thought to myself. This was not how I imagined spending the weekend at our family’s cabin in Aspen, Colorado.
I walked from the kitchen to the living room and told my parents about my worsening condition. They had plans to go out for the night, but offered to stay back with me. I refused. After all, I was 16 and it was their anniversary weekend — I didn’t want to spoil it for them. Besides, my mom and dad would only be gone for a few hours and promised to bring me back some medicine.
Before my parents left, my dad reassured me that everything would be fine. He said they would text me throughout the night to check on me. Plus, our dog, Max, would be there to protect me, “in case anything happens,” he jokingly said. I laughed and happily crawled back into bed.
Around midnight, I woke up and checked my phone — no response. Shit, I thought to myself. What the hell were they still doing out? They should be back by now, it is late. I immediately texted my mom and dad to see where they were. Still laying in my sweat soaked sheets, I called for Max and he quickly came over and licked my toes at the end of the bed. It made me feel better and not so alone. Feeling a bit more comfortable and relaxed, I quickly fell back asleep.
A few hours later I awoke to the sound of a faint dripping noise coming from the bathroom. The faucet? Perhaps… I mean, the shower head was also pretty old and leaky. By this time, Max was curled up on the floor next to my bed. Feeling a bit lonesome, I placed my hand down to pet him and felt his warm, soft tongue. Then, I swallowed two more NyQuil tablets and drifted off into a feverish slumber.
When I woke up again, I heard the dripping sounds from the hallway, but they sounded heavier this time. Almost like thick globs of paint falling from the ceiling to the floor. When I reached down for Max, he wasn’t by my bed anymore. I glanced at my phone and my parents still hadn’t responded. What the fuck. My heart skipped a beat and I felt the hair on the back of neck stand up. My throat tightened and I could barely speak.
M-aaaaax! Max, come here, boy!
I called and called for him. Then I whistled. Nothing. Dead silence.
Still wondering where my parents (and dog) were, I somehow managed to get up from my bed and walk towards the hallway to figure out what the hell was going on. All the lights were off in the cabin except for the porch light which we always kept on. Using my hands, I blindly fumbled my way through the hallway towards the bathroom. By now, the dripping sound was much louder.
Drip, drip, drip, drip.
I flipped the light switch and everything looked normal, but the faucet wasn’t leaking. I flung the shower curtain back and immediately collapsed to my knees. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Max was hung from the shower curtain with a makeshift noose. His neck was slit open and his eyes were gouged out. Blood had began pooling beneath him in the bathtub. On the mirror behind me, in Max’s blood, the following was written: “HUMANS CAN LICK HANDS, TOO.”
I lurched backwards and ran out of the bathroom to the porch and discovered a large, jagged hole in the living room window. Someone had broken into the cabin. Glass was scattered all over the floor. Wind had blown snow onto the floor and I could see footprints leading to my bedroom. I opened my mouth to scream, but was frozen with absolute fear.
With adrenaline bursting through my veins, I ran barefoot in my pajamas out the front door towards our nearest neighbor’s cabin about a half mile away. As soon as I got to their house, I started pounding on their door. By this time, I was frantically crying and sobbing. I had no idea what the fuck just happened. Thankfully, my neighbors took me in and called the police right away.
An investigation was conducted the next day, but no prints could be found. The cops were perplexed. It seems that Aspen had a number of break-ins that particular winter. However, this case was particularly heinous. No one had ever reported a dog being butchered inside their own home or someone pretending to be a dog, for that matter. The perpetrator was never found, but to this day I have nightmares about what happened. My life hasn’t ever been the same.