09 October 2011

I grew up in the densely wooded suburbs of northern New Jersey.  When I grew up there, it was still the type of place where you could see your neighbor’s house through the trees during the day time but, at night, you could only make out a twinkling of the light coming from their windows.  It was the type of place where your neighbor’s house was just far enough away that if something was chasing you through the woods, you would make it tantalizingly close to your neighbor’s front door before being caught and dragged away into the darkness.  It was the type of place that would have been a perfect stand-in for almost every single horror movie that came out in the 1980s.  This is so true that my middle school actually took me and my classmates on a weekend camping trip to the lake where they filmed Friday the 13th.  Of course, they dressed it up and called it Fairview Lake but we all knew better.  We knew that it was Crystal Lake and that Jason was out there in the darkness somewhere (even though we were all still too young to have seen the actual movie).

This story isn’t about the weekend I spent at Crystal Lake though.  This story is about the events of a different night that happened a few years before the Crystal Lake adventure.  This story is about the first night that my mother let me and my older brother stay home alone while she went out and about the monster that paid us a visit while she was away.

It was a big deal being left home alone.  My older brother Erik is three years older than me and, ever since my parents had gotten divorced, had tried to take on the role as man of the house.  It’s not a role easily filled by a twelve year-old boy.  My mother had a date that night.  She would have normally called a babysitter but my brother had been angling for some added responsibility for a while and my mother finally cracked.

It was late autumn.  Only the most tenacious of leaves still clung to the branches of trees not unlike a brown, rotting disease.  The shadows of the leaveless trees spread out over our yard like long, bony fingers.  It got dark early.  The sky was already gray when my mother turned to us before leaving the house.  “Okay, so there is microwave pizza in the freezer,” she said as she turned to hug us goodbye.  The microwave was still a new toy to us, new enough that we didn’t even realize how bad microwave pizza tasted.

“I got it Mom,” my brother whined, trying to egg my mother out the door.  This was his moment.

“Did you feed the cat?” my mom asked my brother.  We had an old tabby cat named Noah.  It was an outdoor cat and we left it’s food by the side door outside the kitchen.

“Yes,” my brother huffed, insulted that she would even ask. 

“And if anything happens, Mrs. Schloman’s phone number is on the refrigerator,” my mother said.  It was a time before cell phones, before it was so easy to reach find people when you needed them.  Mrs. Schloman was my best friend’s mother.  She agreed to stay home that night while my mother went out.  She was who we were supposed to call if there was an emergency. 

“I got it Mom,” my brother whined again.  My mother turned and gave Erik a hug.  It was quick.  Then she turned to me.  She leaned down and reached for me.  I clutched her, not wanting to let go, not wanting her to leave.  I wasn’t as eager for this night as my brother was but I wasn’t going to ruin it for him either. 

“I love you,” my mother whispered in my ear soft enough that my brother wouldn’t hear her and tease me after she left.  Then I let her go.  I remember watching the lights of my mother’s car trail up the driveway as she pulled away from the house and then watching them as the disappeared over a hill and through the trees, two tiny stars drifting down the road until they vanished.  Once they were gone, all that surrounded the house was darkness.

The fear that I had been harboring in my gut of being alone only lasted a few minutes after my mother was gone.  Then I began to feel some of the euphoria that my brother had been anticipating.  Freedom.  For three hours, we could do whatever we wanted!  We ran around the house.  We jumped on every bed.  My brother put chocolate sauce and marshmallow fluff on our pizza before microwaving it.  The marshmallow fluff exploded in the microwave, covering the its entire interior.  It was one of the coolest things we’d ever seen.  We left the mess for our mother to clean up  The pizza was disgusting but we ate every bite.  We laughed.  Little did we know that the whole time it was out there, waiting.

When our energy began to flail, my brother and I settled down to watch TV, hoping to catch some R rated movie on HBO.  I don’t remember what we decided to watch.  When you see a monster, you forget everything else that you’d been doing.  Our TV room was next to the kitchen.  Off to the side of the kitchen was the glass paneled side door leading to the porch.  We left the porch light on, a lone beacon of light in the darkness. 

I don’t know what time it was when we first heard the scratching sound on the side door.  All I know is that our mother wasn’t due home for at least another hour.  I heard the sound first.  My brother was too engrossed in the television.  It was a light screeching sound, the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard, the sound I’d hear again three years later when my brother would make me watch Nightmare on Elm Street with him and Freddy ran the knives on his gloved fingers over metal.  It was those sounds only so quiet that I couldn’t even be sure that I heard anything.  Still, the blood ran out of my face.  I looked over at my brother to see if he heard the eerie sound too.  If he hadn’t heard it too, I knew that I’d be too embarrassed to say anything.  My brother was lying on the floor, head in his hands, engrossed in the television.  He hadn’t heard it.  I waited, praying that I had been imagining things, praying that I would never hear that sound again.

Moments past, and then, “screeeeech.”  I heard it again.  My pulse tripled it’s pace.  I looked over at my brother.  He heard it this time too.  His face had a look of confusion and fear and, seeing my older brother afraid, my fear doubled.  “What was that?” my brother asked me.  I just shook my head, too afraid to even speak.  Then we heard the sound again.  My brother looked towards the side door.  His eyes grew large with fear.  I followed his gaze.  The porch light outside the side door was casting a long shadow of a man on the kitchen floor.  The shadow had to be at least six feet tall, maybe larger. 

My brother put his fingers to his lips, warning me not to make a sound, to not even move.  I didn’t need the warning.  I was frozen with fear.  Then the shadow disappeared.  We sat together for a few minutes, neither of us saying anything.  We both knew what the other was thinking.  We were hoping that what we saw wasn’t real.  We’d played with each other enough growing up to know how real our imaginations could make things seem.  It had to be that.  It had to be.  This couldn’t actually be happening.  But the shadow returned.  It seemed even bigger now as it lumbered towards the door.  We couldn’t see the door but by the shadow thrown off on to the kitchen floor we knew that the man had to be just outside.  That’s when we found out that it wasn’t a man at all.  The creature stretched out its hand towards the door.  For a moment we feared that it was reaching for the doorknob, suddenly uncertain that we’d remembered to lock the door.  Even the fear that the door was unlocked vanished when we saw in the shadow the shape of the monster’s hand.  It wasn’t a hand at all but a claw with long spiny fingers ending in sharp pointed nails, like a demon.  The claw touched the glass and “screeeeech.”

My brother didn’t wait this time for our overactive imaginations to die.  He grabbed me by my collar and began to drag me across the house.  He grabbed the cordless phone too.  He took us as far from the kitchen as possible, into our mother’s bedroom where he pulled us into the closet.  We closed the closet door behind us and began piling shoes and clothes around us, building a wall to keep us completely hidden.  Then we waited.  It was dark in the closet.  It was quiet.  We waited for the sound of the monster’s footsteps getting closer and closer to the closet.  We waited to hear the screeching sound again.  When we heard nothing for what seemed like an eternity, my brother lifted up the cordless phone.  Luckily, I remembered my friend’s phone number even though it was still stuck to the refrigerator.  Mrs. Schloman answered.  Erik whispered to her, telling her that there was a monster outside our house.  She came in minutes, saving us from the darkness of the closet. 

We had to venture out of the closet when the doorbell rang so that we could let Mrs. Schloman inside the house.  She walked the house with us, turning on every light and checking every corner.  We didn’t find anything.  The monster was gone.  My mother came home an hour later.  When she did, she found Mrs. Schloman sitting up with us in the living room.  Mortification is a probably a pretty accurate word for how my mother felt.  She was sure that she would never be able to go on another date, that our overactive imaginations would stop her.  We told her that the monster, a giant man with long spiny claws who was scratching at our kitchen door, was real.  She didn’t believe us... until a few nights later.

Only days had passed from the first run-in with the monster when, after we had all had dinner together, my mother, my brother and I were sitting in the television room watching TV.  My brother heard the sound first this time.  He nudged my mother and pointed towards the door.  I heard it then too.  “Screeeech.”  We looked over towards the door.  The monster’s shadow splayed out across the kitchen floor.  For a moment, I saw fear in my mother’s eyes but she was brave.  “Wait here,” she said to us and began to walk towards the side door.  Erik and I watched her.  She stopped walking and put a hand up to her chest. 

“Come here boys,” she said to us as she stood a few feet from the door.  My brother and I shot each other questioning looks before tiptoeing towards our mother.  Then the raccoon, only half the height of its shadow standing on its hind legs, reached out and scratched the glass window pane on the door.  It had eaten all of our cat’s food and was simply and politely (for a raccoon) asking for more.  So, in the end, the monster was real and the monster was hungry.  The monster, once seen clearly, simply wasn’t scary.

 Available now from Dutton Adult!


Rule Number One: No killing innocent bystanders.
Rule Number Two: No killing anyone under the age of eighteen.


Since the age of eighteen, Joseph has been assassinating people on behalf of a cause that he believes in but doesn't fully understand. The War is ageless, hidden in the shadows, governed by a rigid set of rules, and fought by two distinct sides-one good, one evil. The only unknown is which side is which. Soldiers in the War hide in plain sight, their deeds disguised as accidents or random acts of violence amidst an unsuspecting population ignorant of the brutality that is always inches away.

Killing people is the only life Joseph has ever known, and he's one of the best at it. But when a job goes wrong and he's sent away to complete a punishingly dangerous assignment, Joseph meets a girl named Maria, and for the first time in his life his singleminded, bloody purpose fades away.

Before Maria, Joseph's only responsibility was dealing death to the anonymous targets fingered by his superiors. Now he must run from the people who have fought by his side to save what he loves most in this world. As Children of Paranoia reaches its heart-in-throat climax, Joseph will learn that only one rule remains immutable: the only thing more dangerous than fighting the War...is leaving it.

 Order Children of the Paranoia Online:

 Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository 

Find Trevor Online:

Enter to win a SIGNED copy of Children of the Paranoia + Swag!

Rules and how to enter:

You MUST be at least 18 years old to enter
To enter, please fill out the form provided below
This giveaway is open to US mailing addresses only
Giveaway ends: October 23rd, 2011


REMINDER: *If you are interested in the COMMENT CONTEST, remember to include your email address with your comment for an extra entry.
Please ready full entry rules >>>HERE<<< 

Trevor, thanks so much for sharing your true scary story with us. I can totally see why this one stuck with you! Also a HUGE thank you to you and Dutton for offering the copy of the book to giveaway. 

*I am not compensated at all for any of the links within this page.

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  1. When my sister and I were scared as kids, we buried ourselves in clothes, too. Like that was really going to help. Great story!

    candicerjames [at] gmail [dot] com

  2. That had a surprising ending!!


  3. Scary story! I was like so scard while reading it. I laughed at myself in the end when I found out it was only a racoon! xD The giveaway seems great, but I'm not 18 :( Wish it was for everyone.
    Email: osnapitzAngiex3(AT)aol(DOT)com

  4. Scary story! I was like so scard while reading it. I laughed at myself in the end when I found out it was only a racoon! xD The giveaway seems great, but I'm not 18 :( Wish it was for everyone.
    Email: osnapitzAngiex3(AT)aol(DOT)com

  5. Paranoia can be an all consuming thing. Something really terrifying.

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  6. I would have been so scared. But great ending! I had something similar happen in the house where I grew up. I know there was a man with a trench coat and fedora type hat on the porch one night. The shadow that came though was clear as day.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

  7. Great story. Never had the pleasure of being scared by a raccoon but I can imagine a creature at my door and being scared out of my mind.


  8. I would NEVER go on a camping trip to Crystal Lake! LOL no way, no how!


  9. Awesome post! I loved how scary it was! Love the twist in the end :) I've had this book on my wishlist for a while b/c I had heard such great pre-pub buzz. Thanks for the giveaway!


  10. I enjoyed your story! I got into it like crazy, haha :-)


  11. a Raccoon! hey those things really are scary!
    tlabunski (**gamil))**

  12. So it's almost midnight right now and I just got done reading that story and I am freaking out (I just have one small light on so it's dark, late, and I'm alone). That was scary!!!! I should really wait and read these during the day...


  13. Thanks for all the great feedback. The story is lighter than most of my work (though it didn't feel lighter at the time). I'm really glad people are enjoying it.

  14. Another raccoon! lol Those critters are causing all kinds of trouble huh! I've only seen one in person and while it was cute it did look pretty vicious lol I'm glad it wasn't Freddy though!

    Thank you for the entry!


  15. Liked this post but never heard of this book before...will be checking it out.

  16. Oh my, I am fraked mentally 0.O

    lilyflower999 (at) gmail (dot) com

  17. That was a super scary story!! Raccoons are pretty genius about getting what they want though. LOL!

    AmethystDaydreams at zoho dot com

  18. The raccoon strikes again!


  19. Mary DeBorde
    zenrei57 (at) hotmail dot com

    Those onery raccoons!! ;D

    Once as a youngster, I got scared home all alone when the power in the neighborhood went OUT ... ugh, being home by myself was bad enough - but who knew what scary creatures the darkness held :O

    I think I ran out of the house yelling lol

  20. What a great story. Love the book title. This would be a very different and welcome change in plotline. Adding to my list!
    Thank you for the chills and the giveaway.


  21. Well I am feeling a little paranoid after reading this post :) Thank you for taking the time to share with us today and for the wonderful giveaway opportunity.


  22. Creepy!! But totally something that happens to little kids left home alone. I remember so many things like this happening to me and my brothers when we were younger; and I also remember my older brother doing everything possible to scare me - it worked almost every time. Thanks for sharing your story, Trevor!And thanks for the giveaway.


  23. Ahh, I think we all have a similar story to that! Glad it turned out fine:) Great post.

    bchild5 at aol dot com


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