My name is Richard. I’m husband to a beautiful wife and the lucky father of a crafty eight-year-old boy, Thomas. I work from home, as a freelancer in the software field. My wife Lauren is a teacher at our local high school.

Since my wife works late hours, I take care of our son during the day and help him with his homework. I enjoy nothing more than spending time with him, but it can get tough when deadlines are approaching.

The day Thomas introduced me to Henry and Marie, I couldn’t have been happier. Thomas was a bit shy and reserved, but he seemed to have made his first close friends. The two of them told me they’d moved here with their parents about a month ago and lived in a house down the street. Henry was in Thomas’ class, Marie was a year younger. For the rest of the afternoon, the kids played outside in the backyard, while I kept a watchful eye on them from the office window.

I met Mrs. Green briefly in the early evening when she came to get her kids. It wasn’t long before Lauren, being her usual social self, invited the Greens over for dinner. They were a friendly, well-educated couple in their early forties. They’d waited to have kids to focus on their respective careers. John Green was a lecturer at a university, his wife Lisa was a department store manager at a pharmaceutical company. We got along well enough, and they shared our delight at the kids playing together.

From that day onward, Thomas would often stay at the Green’s house to play with Henry and Marie. John and Lisa assured me things would be all right. They had an elderly maid who picked up the kids after school and watched over them until they got home.

It wasn’t long before Thomas first told us about Doggie, the Green’s family dog. From his tales it sounded like the dog was enormous, so we assumed it was a St. Bernard or a similar breed. At the moment, Thomas said, they kept the dog in an indoor kennel because he was sick. Soon enough the conversation shifted to other topics, like school and games.

During the next few weeks, Thomas would often talk about Doggie. He seemed to adore him and told us about petting him and playing with him. My wife and I considered getting him a puppy for his birthday.

There was one thing that was weird though. In all the time I’d been over at the Green’s house, I’d never seen a dog. Sure, Thomas had told me the dog was staying inside, but it still seemed odd. Well, who knows, maybe the dog was old. What did I know about dogs, anyway?

One day, not too long ago, my son came up to me, a worried look on his face. He rambled on about Doggie and I learned that the old chap seemed to be really ill. He didn’t even get up to play with them anymore. Thomas pleaded with me to talk with the Greens about the dog and I assured him I would.

I hate to admit it, but I pushed it off. It wasn’t that I ignored it, but at the time deadlines were coming up and I was buried with work.

Looking back now, I wish I’d acted sooner.

Three days later my son came home crying. He rushed into my office and threw himself into my arms. It surprised me to see him since he was supposed to be playing at the Green’s home that afternoon. Confusion turned to worry when he told me that Doggie had gotten free and had bitten him. When I saw the bloody wound on his arm, I drove him to the hospital right away.

The doctor informed me that the wound was tiny and everything would be fine before he gave me a probing look.

“Now tell me, Mr. Marshall, where did your son get this injury?” he demanded of me.

“My son was attacked by a neighbor’s dog, what’s the problem here?”

What the doctor said next still makes me shiver.

“Well, Mr. Marshall, those bite marks on your son’s arm, they don’t resemble those of a dog, but a human adult.”

I stared at the man in utter confusion.

“What the hell are you,” I started but broke off. Doggie had bitten him, but then those bite marks… dear God.

We called the cops then and there. I didn’t know what I was expecting, but nothing I could’ve imagined would even come close to reality.

What they found at the Green’s House that afternoon was a sheer and utter nightmare.

Doggie wasn’t a dog, but a young man the Green’s must’ve kidnapped and held captive for whatever twisted reason.

The young man was missing his tongue and the vocal cords, so he wasn’t able to speak or make sounds at all. His hands were mutilated and utterly useless. The poor guy couldn’t even stand up anymore because of the damage done to his muscles and tendons. I’m thankful I never saw what they did to his face, but I heard it barely resembled that of a human being anymore. What makes this entire thing even weirder was the dog costume. They’d dressed the guy up like a dog and kept him in a basement cell.

When the cops came over to take my statement, it took some time to convince Thomas that he wasn’t in trouble. The police said they needed some help to find out a little more about Doggie and why he’d bitten him. Of course, we didn’t tell him what was really going on.

He told us that Marie and Henry had found Doggie by accident. The door to the basement was locked at all times; it was off-limits, their parents had said. One day though, the kids had discovered a secret way to enter the basement. It was later confirmed to be a construction error. When their parents weren’t home, Henry and Marie had explored their new house and made their way into the basement. The room Doggie was in had no light and they kept him in what the kids thought to be an indoor kennel.

The kids assumed he was down there because he was sick and their parents tried to help the dog get better. They’d told Thomas their parents often did this type of thing. Thomas told us, shuffling his feet, that it was supposed to be a secret. They’d get in trouble if their parents knew they went down there.

Thomas had been worried about the dog though, so he told me and Laura about him. It was stupid, he said, that he wasn’t allowed to talk about him.

When the police asked if the elderly maid knew anything, Thomas laughed. The old woman was gullible. They’d tell her they were playing upstairs and waited till she was busy with the housework.

After that, we sent him to his room, and the police told me what must’ve happened that day and how lucky my son had been.

Thomas, Henry, and Marie had snuck into the basement once more to play with Doggie. At the time the man was suffering from a high fever and multiple infected wounds. He was delirious. He didn’t react to the kids anymore, so they opened the kennel to see if he was all right. That’s when the man saw his chance and went on a rampage.

He first went for Thomas, who was the closest. Luckily though, he wasn’t able to use his jaws anymore, only giving Thomas a shallow bite. This allowed my son to get away.

Henry and Marie weren’t so lucky. The girl was beaten to death. The boy was maimed beyond recognition and is still in critical condition. In his frenzied state, the man had thrown himself against the locked basement door till it broke open. In the course, he’d severely bruised his already weak body. On the stairs, he ran into the poor maid who must’ve come down because she’d heard the kids’ screams. She survived with only light injuries but suffered severe head trauma. She’s still unconscious at this point.

The tortured man didn’t get far. He suffered from a heart attack and died right there in the Green’s backyard.

Mr. and Mrs. Green were arrested on the same day. I heard they were both charged with multiple offenses, including homicide. They are currently under investigation in at least two more missing person cases suspected to be homicides.

To this day, the identity of the man that Thomas referred to as Doggie as well as the Greens’ motif remain completely unknown.

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