The death of Brian Page was nothing special in the eyes of the everyday person

The death of Brian Page was nothing special in the eyes of the everyday person. He had been a grumpy old man, one who enjoyed tormenting anyone who came into his presence. The old man's wife had left him twenty years before - not that anyone blamed her. The shouts that had emitted from the house not only disturbed the neighbors, but had caused the police to arrive on the doorstep more than once.

For twenty years, there had been nothing by Brian Page and his dogs. The dogs were vicious creatures, and all but bloodthirsty; trained to attack on sight of anyone who wasn't Brian.

When Brian was found dead in his backyard, pieces of him missing, and canine teeth marks everywhere, no one blinked an eye. 'He got what he deserved' the neighbors said. 'You couldn't possibly treat animals that cruel and not expect them to turn on you.' The dogs had soon been taken away by animal control, and put down for attacking a human.

To be honest, I myself would never have thought twice about his death, despite being his next door neighbor all of my life. I had heard nothing unusual that night - just the same annoying barking, growling, and dog fights I had grown up hearing. It wasn't until someone began moving their belongings into the house that I began to get curious. I watched from my parent's window as the tall, dark, yet slightly lanky young man began to make the house his own, and clean up where Brian had not.

It made me curious for more than one reason - why would a young man be so keen to buy a home residents had considered to be a place of horror for years? Why would he move in so quickly after Brian's death? The man had no relatives as far as anyone knew.

While other neighbors shrugged away, I watched and became suspicious. I had never talked to the quiet boy next door, but I knew one thing; the day Brian Page had died, Alex Webster moved into town.

Alex only moved about at night; only when dusk had finally settled and the moon was bright in the sky. For someone reclusive, I found he was predictable; he went through the same motions every night. First, he would peek through the blinds, as if determining if it was dark enough. Next, he would open the door a crack and look around warily. Finally, once he was finally sure no one would bother him, he would step outside and begin whatever yard work or labor needed to be done. He was almost always barefoot.

He talked with no one – possibly because the neighborhood avoided the new stranger. The old Page house had a word that came with it, and it seemed the little old ladies in the area automatically assumed Alex would be the same way, I guessed.

The only neighbor that had attempted to make contact was Mrs. Edith Brown. She was a tiny little woman, and very homely. She had a kind face, one that reminded someone of their grandmother, and was forever baking cookies or cakes and inviting the street to visit. She made a daring move one evening, and brought him brownies, hoping, I think, to sway him over. I watched through the blinds as she marched up the front steps. Alex met her at the door.

"He looked so ragged and unhealthy," she told me later, glancing warily at his front door. "I don't think he sleeps enough, the poor thing. God only knows what he is up to all night. You don't think he is into drugs, do you?" Her mouth twisted into a little grimace of displeasure. "I won't be living next to a crack dealer."

"I doubt its drugs," I had answered, and I meant it honestly. I had grown up around the environment of drugs, and I wasn't detecting any of the signs. For the most part, it seemed Alex was alone, and that's exactly how he liked it.

It didn't stop my curiosity, however. It only increased it.

I watched him every evening for almost a month, wishing I had a legitimate excuse for stalking him every evening. I contemplated walking over to his door and introducing myself, but what would –could- I say? "My name is Jane Morgan and I've been secretly obsessed with you from afar?" I might as well have called Griffin Memorial Hospital myself.

Fate decided to be kind and gave me a reason. I received his mail one afternoon.

Swallowing the seed of doubt that had nestled in the pit of my stomach, I waited for nightfall to approach. I had no intentions of repeating Mrs. Brown's mistake. If I was going to confront this man, I wanted to do it right the first time.

Alex met me on the top step of his porch, and raised an eyebrow as I approached. I put on my best smile. "Hi," I started, ignoring the butterflies. "I'm Jane Morgan, I live next door - "

"I've seen you." He cut me off, still giving me an unsure glance. He seemed to be torn between kicking me off his property and listening to what I had to say.

"I received a few letters addressed to you. I thought it might be a good time to introduce myself." Alex had stepped off his porch, and was standing almost toe to toe with mer. I swallowed and stared up at him. He was much taller than I had considered, and towered over me. For the first time, I noticed his eyes - a usual mixture of blue and grey, and his hair was lighter than I previously thought. It was light brown, almost blonde in places.

I thrust the papers toward him. "Here's your mail." I continued, feeling foolish. "It's mostly junk mail; a few credit card offers and such. One looks important though."

Alex flipped through the mail uncaringly until he came to the letter I mentioned. It was a small white envelope, with bad handwriting scrawled across it. His face turned into a grimace, and his eyebrow twitched. He stuffed the letter into the back pocket of his jeans, and his eyes met mine again. "Thank you." That was all he said.

I stood there, unsure of what to do next. I didn't want to just walk off – what if he thought I was rude – but at the same time, I didn't want to make myself unwelcome. I tried a conversation again. "You're quite the talk of the neighborhood."

That caught his attention. "I am?" His eyes were suddenly alert, and he looked around wildly. Did this man have paranoia? "What kind of talk?"

"They're just curious. No one ever sees you, and you only come out at night." I couldn't believe I was being so bold, but it was the truth. I was determined to get even the slightest information out of the man in front of me. "You terrified poor Mrs. Brown."

"Good." His face was serious. "I hope I did. I don't want anyone messing around in my business, Miss. Morgan. The less people are involved, the less people are hurt. I mean that literally. Do you understand?"

The warning was for me – I was almost sure of it. I nodded, letting him know I understood. It would be impossible to stop watching him though. "Does . . ." I bit my lip before continuing. "Does this have anything to do with the letter in your pocket?"

Alex had been making his way to the back yard, and he stopped dead at my words. He whipped around so fast it startled me, and was in my face before I could take another breath. "Don't get involved in my business, Jane Morgan. You won't like what you find, I can assure you of that. Do I make myself crystal clear?"

I could do nothing but nod.

"Good." He turned away again. I took this as my cue to leave. I hadn't meant to piss him off, but sometimes I talked more than I should. I was almost to my yard when I heard his voice again. I turned around to find him standing by our backyards, still facing away from me.

"Be careful for your own safety, Jane. If you receive any strange visitors or phone calls, do not give them any information you don't have to. It's the kind of leverage they need to do away with you."

Author's Note: This is something I have been wanting to write for years, but never got the chance to until now. When it becomes clear about Alex, I'll explain to you what inspired this story. I can't, for it would give too much away. This is going to be a short story, probably no more than ten chapters long (if even that!). Reviews are greatly appreciated, because this is my first story in the 'fantasy' department. I need to know how I'm doing.