Wilma loped after the intruder, baying, while Fred scaled to his favorite perch with a yowl and watched the ensuing chase with eyes shining in the semi-darkness. I had quick thoughts of trying to nudge Wilma back behind the kiddie gate, lest the intruder be carrying rabies or some other nasty cocktail of diseases, but she put the lie to her 16 years on earth with a surprisingly energetic pursuit. It was all I could do to follow armed with a broom.

The strange dog, for its part, seemed equal parts terrified and purposeful. While zigzagging across my living room, upsetting furniture and bunching up rugs, it nevertheless made straight for the kitchen. I lost sight of it for a moment, but when the dog reemerged, still tailed stubbornly by Wilma, I saw that it had a boneless chicken breast–one I’d set out to thaw for dinner–in its mouth.

It was only when the intruder made its escape, through Wilma’s doggie door, that I understood how it had gotten inside in the first place. I was able to slide the lock into place before my geriatridog chased the interloping hound outside, but, seized by intense indignation at having my house invaded and my pets threatened, I went through the large door, still clutching my broom, seconds later. It was a bright night out and the streetlights were on; I expected to see the dog running for the treeline across the street and 500 yards away.

Instead I caught a glimpse of a small, pale child in a pool of streetlamp light.

It glanced over its shoulder, and I could see my chicken breast defiantly clamped between rows of square white teeth. Eyes shone vividly in the twilight, and a moment later the figure vanished behind my garbage cans.