5.05.2006

Fear

I was 12. Smokin’ Bunny-cakes was 2 and He Who Would Grow Up With the Ability to Sell Snow to Polar Bears was 7. The house we were living in was haunted. It really was, we all had our experiences with that particular spirit, and maybe I’ll share some of those some other time. But this is a story about something scarier. Our basement had a rec room, two bedrooms (one for me and my sister, one for my brothers), an office, a laundry/furnace room, and a bathroom. The rec room part was, at this time, still unfinished. The office contained a door to our fenced backyard. A door that was rarely used. The stairwell that the door opened onto was full of spiders and a cold malevolence that everyone in the family tried to avoid. The door had a deadbolt that was always locked. I rarely went into the office because that is where the house felt hauntedest to me. Even on bright, sunny summer days, the office and that basement door were so frightening to me that I would avoid them at all cost.

This particular night my parents were taking The Brother Just Younger than I (10 years old) out to a movie because he had earned enough stars on his chore chart. I had earned the least amount of stars on my chore chart, so I had to baby-sit that night. And I was supposed to muck out my bedroom while I was babysitting.

After my parents and brother left, I locked the door behind them and went upstairs (it was a split level home) and locked the French doors in the dining room. Normally it wouldn't have occurred to me to check the basement door because no one used it and it was always locked. But something told me to go check it. That voice in my mind was so insistent that I couldn’t ignore it. And so, despite my deep reluctance, I steeled up my courage and went into the room. The door was, surprisingly, unlocked. I flipped it locked and high-tailed it out of that room.

Night falls and my brother, sister, and I are in my room. We're watching TV and sullenly cleaning the room. Suddenly our normally very calm black lab, Liza, wakes up and starts growling. We watch the hackles rise on her back. She jumps on the bed and starts barking and clawing at my curtain-less window. My brother and I freeze. It is not normal for Liza to bark. She is so upset she looks frightening to us.

Suddenly she jumps off the bed and runs up the half-flight of stairs to the front door. I run up after her. She's barking and throwing herself against the door. I peek through the peep-hole but can't see anyone standing there. I look through the side-light and still can see no one. My brother turns off the light in the bedroom and looks at the door from the bedroom window. He can't see anything either. I run up the rest of the stairs and try to look down on the door from the living room window. Nothing.

Suddenly Liza stops going nuts and cocks her head to one side. She holds this waiting position for a moment and then howls and races through the living room and to the dining room French Doors. I run back to my bedroom and scoop up my little sister and then follow my brother to the dining room. Liza is starting to foam at the mouth; she is so upset at something. But whatever it is doesn't seem to be very scared of her, and so I don't want to open the door and let her at the would-be intruder. My brother's carrying a broom like a baseball bat, and I grab a big knife from the kitchen. I know Dad has a gun, but I don't know where it is. (Thank GOD I didn't know where it was!)

Liza does her listening thing again and takes off for the basement. I shove my sister in the coat closet and, armed with my knife, I follow Liza into the basement, and (pause a moment at the door) into the office. The room with the door to the outside. The door that, if I hadn't had a strange impulse to check just a couple hours before, would have been unlocked. Liza is barking, her whole body jumping with each bark, a couple feet away from the door. I flip the light on. I watch the doorknob twist, slowly, and then the door thumps against the deadbolt.

And suddenly, in that moment, my brain switched back on. And I realized that this was not just something scary, but something really, really dangerous. That there was someone on the other side of that door. Someone who knew that there were three children alone in the house with a big, angry dog. Someone who wasn't afraid of a big, angry dog. And I also remembered that we had big halogen lights that lit up our entire yard, and so pissed off neighbors that, when we turned the lights on, they would lean out their windows and tell us to turn the lights back off. And I remembered that bad people hate bright lights.

So I backed away from the door with its twisting handle and ran through the house, turning on all the lights, and turned on those halogen lights.

You might wonder why I hadn't turned on the halogen lights to start with. Well, it was a HUGE no no to turn that light on. It was such a big deal to turn that light on. Because it was so bright and so expensive, and it made our neighbors so angry, that very serious punishments were handed out to kids who turned that light on. Punishments that only the very real threat of immanent death or dismemberment by a stranger could overcome. This is the same reason it didn't occur to me to call 911.

There were no windows on the side of the house where the basement door was located, so I couldn't see what happened. But a few seconds after I turned the light on (it felt like an eternity), Liza stopped barking. She came upstairs and snorted and huffed for a minute. And then fell back asleep on the living room floor.

And a few minutes after that my parents were home. They'd been coming down the hill toward our neighborhood, debating whether or not they should stop at the 7-11 to get the Brother Just Younger than I a treat when they saw the halogen light shining over the fields (our street was an incursion into a former farm's fields) and decided just to head straight home because if that light was on then something was very, very wrong.

When they heard our story they went out and bought heavy curtains for my bedroom. They didn't punish me for turning the light on. They didn't leave us alone for months. The neighbors claimed that they didn't see anything, but a couple of weeks later a kid was kidnapped from a street a mile or so away and later found dead.

I know that the man who kidnapped that boy tried our house first. And I know that if I hadn't had that strange feeling to brave the haunted room and check the basement door, something terrible would have happened that night.What scary stories do you have to tell? Leave them in the comments here, or tell them on your own blog and let me know, and I’ll link to you. You can consider this a trial run of the Scheherazade Project.

Posted by Trista @ 9:26 AM

Read or Post a Comment

Okay, your story scared the crap out of me (even though I read it in broad daylight). AND I was home alone when I read it... and when I got to the REALLY scary part, the dogs stasrted barking and I looked up and someone was standing at the french doors!

Okay, okay, so it was Amy... but she IS six feet tall... and I was so scared I almost didn't recognize her. She laughed at me.

I have a story to tell! But this weekend is the bike ride/Keys vacation weekend. So I guess my story will appear on Tuesday.

Have a good weekend!

Posted by Blogger Kiker @ 9:57 AM #
 

No scary stories to tell here..but have goose bumps after reading yours. YIKES!

Posted by Blogger Mandy @ 10:08 AM #
 

That is crazy creepy. Ugh... I would have been so scared!

Posted by Anonymous Molly @ 10:31 AM #
 

Good holy gods, that was terrifying!

(And damn you write it so well.)

Posted by Blogger Mel @ 10:34 AM #
 

Lord have mercy - I've still got chills from that one. Note to self: don't ever, ever, ever leave Gracie home alone until she's at least 30. Maybe even 40.

Posted by Blogger K. @ 12:31 PM #
 

Thank you for freaking me out. Really. And Sarah thanks you to, because now, you see, I will not be able to stay home alone. Ever. Again.

Posted by Blogger Brooke @ 12:51 PM #
 

holy crap. i can't believe how bold and quick thinking you were. i would have been hiding until my mother came home.

Posted by Blogger cocoa @ 1:19 PM #
 

Big bad scary!!! Here's mine: http://chauceriangirl.blogspot.com/

Posted by Blogger Faith @ 4:07 PM #
 

Holy crap. That was a freaking scary ass story. Shit.

Posted by Blogger ms.bri @ 5:39 PM #
 

There was a neighborhood man who used to ride his bike all over my town, when i was about 10. He befriended my mom, he befriended me. We know where this is going right, it's starting off so bad already...anyway. One day as I was walking home from my bus stop he rode up to me and said he had something to show me. I asked him what it was, he showed me, it was pornography. My heart quickened before it fell into my stomach and the vile rose in my throat. I had already been molested by my grandfather at this point for about 8 years. I knew the drill. It's sad really, I was desensitized. He asked me to hold the magazine. I said no thanks, put my head down and kept walking. This was more frightening to me than being molested repeatedly because it wasn't 'controlled' I didn't know what to expect. That's sick. Well, he would 'show me something' once every couple of months. I guess he didn't want to push it. He didn't know that I would keep his secret. Why wouldn't I? I was the keeper of those secrets. He used to leave pornography at my bus stop. No one knew who it was, but I did. I was ashamed and frightened that people would point the finger at me. I thought I was see through. Didn't everyone know just by looking at me? One day after school he came to my door. No one was home but me. He called my house (he started doing this about a year into his game), he was breathing heavy and saying things no one should hear.ever. I got scared, I was more scared than I had ever been. The past 10 years (I was 12 at this point, having been molested for ten years, and the last two being mentally abused by this man) had led me to a breaking point. I couldn't control myself. I was losing touch with reality, I was going crazy, I would lay on the floor and wish to die. I digress...He called one day, and I lost it. I started screaming into the phone and I couldn't stop myself, he eventually hung up on me. I ran upstairs and locked all the doors. I watched out the window waiting for him to come. He rode past my house a few minutes later (he called from a pay phone). I unlocked the door, opened it wide and screamed at him to leave me alone, and other things, I don't remember exactly what. Literally, I had snapped. My secret had saturated my limit, it was seeping out. If anyone in the neighborhood saw, they said nothing. Eventually that night I ended up telling my mother everything (except about my grandfather, that would take about another 6 months). She told me how sorry she was, she said all the right things, she took the right actions. I was already damaged though.

Everyone likes a happy ending though right? Here it is (sort of) the next day after telling my mom, my dad went out for a 'ride' in the car. He tried to run this man over, I believe he would have succeeded had the man not noticed and rode onto someones lawn (my dads not that crazy after all, he's a highly intelligent, highly educated man, who had lost his mind momentarily). The man stopped riding around town after that and eventually moved. I'm sure he's dead now.

Why did i tell you this? I don't know you. I feel cleansed somehow. Thank you for asking about fear.

Posted by Blogger Cristin @ 6:00 PM #
 

Holy CRAP. I'm a little out of breath just reading that. Thank goodness for the dog and the halogen light and for little girls with the presence of mind to do the right thing.

I have no scary stories, not compared to that! Just a few window peepers and suchlike. The usual.

Posted by Blogger Anne @ 7:06 PM #
 

Your story..WOW. This, not so much scary (although I was pretty scared at the time) as just creepy.

One of my uncles died when I was very young. His, was the first funeral I remember ever attending. I found it at times boring, fascinating and scary.

My mom, having been very close to her brother, was particularly affected by his death and the aftermath.

For months, preceding his death she had grown quite fond of a song titled 'Someday Baby' and played the record over and over and over. This song was my uncle's favorite as well.

After his funeral, my mom realized that she couldn't bear to hear the song again and she couldn't have the record in her home. She threw it away.

The record appeared in her stack of 45's two days later. She shrieked, accused us (me & my brothers) of 'playing' with her and threw it away again.

The record appeared in her stack of 45's three days later. My brothers and I caught holy heck, as she was sure we were messing with her. I was 6. My younger brother 4 and my older brother 8. We were freaked, and so not messing with her.

She broke the 45 into pieces and then melted some of the pieces. She then took the pieces to a neighboring dumpster.

The record appeared in her stack of 45's 4 days later. She cried for a week. She kept the record but never played it. In fact, she didn't play any records for months afterwards.

I was beyond relieved when we moved.

Posted by Anonymous Deborah @ 9:23 PM #
 

OMG - your story scared the living crap out of me. That is soooooo terrifying.

I used to work in palliative care - where people are looked after when they're terminally ill. We used to put the people very near death in this one particular room, because it was really lovely with a nice view over the park and lots of room for visitors. We used to have 2 bells in the room - one for the patient to ring if they wanted a nurse and one on the wall near the door for a nurse to ring if she needed help with something. Every single time a patient died the nurses bell would go off without fail! It ended up being that if the bell went off on night shift we would look at each other and know what had happened and sigh. That bell got checked by the electricians many times and they never found anything wrong with it.

We were convinced we had a "grey nurse" - a ghost of a nurse who would walk the ward. Sometimes on busy nights a patient bell would ring and we'd go in to the patient after a while and they would say that the other nurse had already been in to help them - get them a blanket or a bedpan or something. They would say it was the nurse in the old-fashioned dress with the veil on. We hadn't worn veils since the 70's! We weren't scared of the gray nurse, but we hated it when that bell went off.

Posted by Blogger mermaidgrrrl @ 11:43 PM #
 

I read your story yesterday and told it to my girlfriend at bedtime. We couldn't sleep. Yikes!

Posted by Blogger Colette Denali @ 4:01 PM #
 

EEEEEEEE.

And can I tell you how weird it is to read my name in such a scary story???

Posted by Anonymous Liza @ 10:31 AM #
 

Just.... WOW. That is crazy scary.. thank god you had that flash of foresight to check the door. Things like that make me absolutely believe in guardian angels/spirits, giving you a nudge in the direction to protect yourself. I'm so glad everything turned out well.

Posted by Blogger Alena @ 12:51 PM #
 

Just.... WOW. That is crazy scary.. thank god you had that flash of foresight to check the door. Things like that make me absolutely believe in guardian angels/spirits, giving you a nudge in the direction to protect yourself. I'm so glad everything turned out well.

Posted by Blogger Alena @ 1:13 PM #
 
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