The split level home was situated in an unassuming suburban neighborhood. The yard was well tended, the two trees in the front yard still in full leaf though the leaves were just beginning to fade from vibrant green to a rich ember. Sunlight streamed through the evergreens along the side of the house as the sun angled towards the horizon.

Within the home, I puttered around the kitchen, preparing the last details for dinner with the family. The kids were scattered around the house finishing last minute chores or homework before dinner. My wife joined me in the kitchen, bumping hips with me for moment before leaning in for a kiss.

A knock at the door drew my attention. As I turned to head down the stairs, I saw my youngest daughter staring at the front door. She looked frightened and was shaking her head, telling me not to answer the door. Confused, I unlocked the door and opened it up to see the nice old lady from next door, though something seemed off about her. Perhaps it was the blood staining her shirt. Or maybe it was the way she was lunging at me through the doorway.

I snapped awake to my wife kissing my cheek in the kitchen. Dinner was simmering on the stove and the rest of the children were scattered around the house working on their chores and homework. A knock at the door caught my attention and drew me from the kitchen.

At the top of the stairs, my youngest daughter stared at the door, fear etched on her face. Reaching down, I drew her into a hug, before sending her to get my bat from the bedroom. Slowly, I made my way to the door, leaving it locked as I peeked through the stained glass that bordered the door.

The nice old lady from next door stood there, leaving on her closed umbrella. There was no sign of the blood or the crazed look from earlier. However, the stranger at the bottom of the landing leading up to the door was new. He suddenly leaped at the old lady, latching onto her shoulder and biting down. She stabbed him with her umbrella before driving him off.

A few moments later my daughter arrived with the bat. I smiled down at her before shooing her back upstairs. This was not something I wanted her to see. Peeking out the stained glass again, I couldn’t find the nice old lady, nor the man who had attacked her. Slowly, I unlocked and opened the door.

There was no sign of either one. Stepping out the door, I looked at the landing, noticing the splotches of blood, but no sign of either previous occupant outside the door. Looking further out, I spotted another of the two busybodies shambling their way up the street. There was a certain limp to their walk that sent a wave of terror coursing through me.

My grip on the bat tightened as the busybodies shuffled faster, a keening moan escaping them as they lumbered up my stairs and hurled themselves towards me. The bat sent them staggering back and I had time to get back inside and lock the door.

So much for a quiet dinner.

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