The new neighbors had seemed nice enough: they were human, polite, reasonably well dressed. Out here in the suburbs you get all kinds, of course.
Helen brought them over a pan of lasagna after a couple days, you know, to break the ice. They talked for a minute at the door. No kids. He was a pilot for Virgin Interplanetary, just got off doing the Moon to Mars run, promoted to the home office. The wife was a teacher still looking for a local job. Chemistry I think. Maybe Biology.
They seemed very appreciative of the lasagna, but didn't invite her in. We chalked it up to the house still being a mess of boxes. The wife brought the pan back later that same day. That should have been our first clue.
We have 2 dogs. Sorry, we had two dogs. Spike and Angel. Don't give me any crap, my wife named them. They were little yappy dogs of I have no idea what breed. Personally I couldn't stand either of them but the wife loved the heck out of those little suckers which is the only reason I bring it up.
So after about a week, they had a fencing company come and put up one of those six foot high wooden privacy fences. I thought, well, it's a little antisocial, and the chain link fence that was there was doing find with keeping our dogs out of that yard, but whatever. They're homeowners, they can put up a privacy fence if they like, no skin off my nose.
The next night, Helen called the dogs in and neither came, so she went out into the yard looking. Angel she found hiding under the porch, but Spike was nowhere to be seen. I figured he had just come in the doggy door when Helen wasn't looking and was hiding in the house somewhere. We looked for a little while before deciding he'd show up again when he got hungry enough.
It wasn't until the next day when we couldn't find Angel either that I noticed the hole the dogs had dug under that privacy fence. I couldn't see directly through the hole, though: the fence was dug into the ground several inches so it was kind of an 'elbow' tunnel. I reached through and felt around, but nothing. I snapped my fingers, just to see if I could get the dogs to come, but again nothing.
I went over and tried the gate to the neighbors backyard, but it was locked with a padlock, so I walked around to knock on the front door. I could hear some hushed talking from inside before he opened the door. "Hey, neighbor. What can I do for you?" the pilot said.
I tried to be casual about it. "Hey, I think my dogs may have dug under the fence and gotten into your yard. Mind if we go back there and check?"
"Not at all: here, I'll come out." He pulled the door shut behind him. He hadn't opened it very far, but since he was being so cooperative I didn't think much of it at the time. As we walked around to the side, he said, "I haven't seen them back there, but it can't hurt to look again."
We went around, and he unlocked the gate. The backyard hadn't changed much, except for there was a brand new shed back in the corner. We looked around everywhere we thought the dogs could have gotten to, but no luck.
"Could they have gotten into the shed?" I asked.
"It's been locked up tight since I put it up, so I don't think so."
He didn't move to open it, and I didn't want to press the issue. Anyhow, it didn't look like there was any way to get in with the doors shut and locked, so I figured the dogs weren't in there anyway. "Right, right."
There was an uncomfortable moment, during which I noticed his wife was watching us through the kitchen window curtains, and then I said, "Okay, well, thanks."
"I'll keep an eye out for them."
I went out and around and back to our place; he locked up the gate behind us and went back into his.
We never did see the dogs again.
Four nights later we heard some strange noises while we were sleeping, I can't really describe it. They culminated in a loud crashing sound that sounded a little like the time the hurricane wind took the roof off my father's garage back in '21. Not quite as loud though, and there wasn't so much as a drop of rain that night. Anyway, I got up to check, and the house was all right, doors and windows, so I went back to bed.
The next morning when we got up Helen said that there was a big hole in the privacy fence, and I should go look and see what happened. So I did.
The hole wasn't big, it was enormous. I stepped through it, that's how big it was. There wasn't anything in the neighbors' yard that hadn't been there when I had been there last, except: the sliding glass door to the house was open, and so were the shed doors.
Inside the shed were two cages. One was a cube about three feet tall, and one was a cube about six feet tall. The door of the six foot cage was twisted and bent and broken and hanging on it's hinges. There were some little, dog-sized bones inside the cage. Mixed in with larger ones. There was a smell that was... not right. it occurred to me, maybe the pilot brought something back down with him, maybe some exotic pet.
I didn't bother checking the neighbors' house. I went straight back into my own house and locked the doors behind me and called the police.
I hereby attest that this account is entirely factual to my knowledge.