Fear Thy Neighbor – Part 3

In this episode of “The Man Next Door”, Billy has a terrible dream foreshadowing the events to come.


The Man Next Door – Episode 3

The next day was Monday and Billy’s first day at his new school. He had no time to think about the strange old man with the cool green eyes (although he walked on the other side of the street on his way to the bus stop to avoid walking in front of the old man’s house).

By Wednesday he had assembled a small group of friends at school, including Steve Atkins, whom he considered to be his new best friend. Things were going well for Billy’s parents as well. His dad had been assigned a big case at the new law firm he now worked for, and had even managed to find a tennis partner. His mother enjoyed her new teaching job at the local community college, and was thrilled by her students’ willingness to learn and generally warm attitude. In fact, the first week in their new house was the perfect picture of suburban bliss.

Then Billy had the dream.

It was a Sunday night, and the breeze had picked up outside so that it covered the noise of the crickets. Billy had been tossing and turning restlessly, unable to sleep because his parents had allowed him to stay up with them and watch the movie Jaws. He couldn’t stop thinking about the poor captain, how Jaws had bit him right in half so that blood had filled his mouth. Finally he drifted off into slumber.

Billy imagined that part of the reason the dream was so terrible was that at first he didn’t know if he was awake or dreaming.

In the dream he walked over to the window that looked out over the hedge and the house next door. The moon was round and fat in the sky, what Billy knew was called a full moon, and in the tall distant trees that delineated the woods at the bottom of the street huge, hunched-over bird-creatures waited on the branches. There was no breeze, but from somewhere down below the sound of rustling leaves could be heard.

Billy looked down and saw with horror that the hedge was growing, towering upwards into the night in a tangle of vines and branches. It wasn’t growing straight up, but toward Billy. There was something underneath the hedge, some hidden form that grew and stretched right along with it.

It was then that Billy noticed the eyes, cool and green, pulsing like emeralds as they rose swiftly with the branches right toward him. Soon he could make out the rest of the old man, where his legs joined the wood at the bottom of the hedge, where his fingers stretched forth into sinuous appendages.

Silently the windows shattered. Billy screamed, but screamed silently. The hedge clutched him with its cold, oaken grasp, lifting Billy high into the night, lifting him high as an offering for the bird-creatures that no longer waited by the woods but which were spiraling downward to him, talons outstretched…

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