's 2020 Horror Write-off:

Canon, or A Haunting

Submitted by EmmettTN

“You know when you lose someone you love? When you know it’s not your fault, and you can still do something about it?”

I’m trying to think about the future. I’ve got a lot ahead of me. But I can’t shake the feeling that something’s wrong. I’m starting to run out of people to talk to about this. So I’m making a list. Just in case anything happens.

“We argued over stupid pointless shit. Dinner. Traffic. The dog.”

Franny’s a sweet dog. She won’t leave my side, and won’t let anyone touch her. She never used to be skittish, but after… all of the sudden, she started yelping at night.

“Sure, I got angry sometimes. But anyone would, if they were in my position. I was under a lot of stress.”
There are reminders around the house. The occasional sock, or plastic wrap squeezed under the couch. Hairs, too short to be mine and too long to be the dog’s pop up in the bathroom sometimes. I wake up bruised, purple and black like a rotten orange. I’ve gotten used to it. I have plenty of sweaters. People at work have almost stopped asking.

“She never ate enough, anyways. She was all skin and bones when I met her.”

I try and go out to eat when I can. Everything tastes the same though, over-seasoned and undercooked, almost expired but not quite there. Even box macaroni. Whenever I can stomach something, it always feels like someone’s watching, staring through my cheeks and counting the missing teeth. There’s only two more than normal.

“She was really, really weird, too. Just, about certain things. You know what I mean.”

I try not to touch the shower curtain. When I do, I feel something. There’s no-one else in the house, and Franny’s too small to really pull on the plastic. Sometimes, when I shower late, I hear breathing on the other side.
The bedroom smells. I can ignore it most nights, but in the summers the miasma hovers over me. No matter how many times I’ve changed the sheets, rearranged my room, replaced the mattress, it persists. I think the stench soaked into the floorboards.

“The apps just aren’t working. It’s not like what we had. That was special. She was special.”

I get more notifications on my phone, now. Instagram, snapchat, facebook, even email. It’s fun to think that they’re regular accounts. They are, but the profile pictures are all the same. It’s a face stretched into something between a snarl and a smile. The teeth show, and the lips curl up, but there’s only cold contempt in the eyes.
I report all of them.
Some disappear, but more show up to replace them.

“I keep trying to call her. No one ever picks up.”

I've stopped using the landline. Whenever it rings, it's fairly predicable. Meandering nonsense in a distorted echo of a human voice. It's outdated tech, anyways, but I can't push myself to replace it.

I like quiet nights the most. I’ve never liked going out no matter who I was with. Because of where I live, I get a lot of uninvited visitors. Most of the time, it’s just Jehova’s witnesses or traveling salesmen or kids trying to sell candy bars. Yet I still shiver when I hear the doorbell ring. Not out of anxiety, but for fear of the possibility of who it could be.

A door is a relatively thin piece of wood. It’s not that hard to break down. And anyone could be on the other side. Whenever I hear a knock on the door, I always fear that some intrusive force is on the other side of it.

“Maybe I should drive over. You know, just to check in.”

This time, I know my suspicions are right.