Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Devil in the White City

We're a little late to the party on this one, but we'd like to recommend The Devil in the White City to anyone who hasn't read it yet.

Equal parts exploration of human's capacity for greatness and for evil, The Devil in the White City does a terrific job creating the climate of the World's Columbian Exposition, aka Chicago World's Fair, and also of creating the real-life character of serial killer H. H. Holmes.

While the novel can run a little too detailed in parts and tries to cover too many people involved in both the fair and the murders, it is overall an intriguing read.

A few interesting notes:  Holmes created a building, "The Castle", the size of a city block, and had it constructed to hide his evil deeds, including a air-tight room that he could fill with gas to kill people. more interesting is that he also rented rooms in the "Castle" as apartmens, and rented out the bottom floor as shops. So, here's this man murdering a ton of people, and he's surrounded by potential witnesses, or as he seemed to see them -- potential victims.

The aspect of the Chicago World's Fair may have been even more interesting than that of Holmes. For example, did you know that the Ferris Wheel became a thing at the Chicago World's Fair, or that Cracker Jacks was created for the fair?

Perhaps my favorite part of the book was reading about Buffalo Bill Cody's show that he set up just outside of the Chicago World's Fair because the Fair organizers wouldn't let his show be part of the fair. We would have loved to have been a spectator in that crowd, to watch sharpshooting Annie Oakley perform for the crown.

Give it a read.




The good 



The bad

Monday, September 29, 2014

The KittyCow


Someday I will write this whole story down, it is like some bizarre ghost story.

I was a chaperone for a Girl Scout camping trip when I was 16 (the kids were about 5-9 years old). I had a cabin with six kids I was in charge of at night, and helped out during the day.

Night one, one of my kids had a bit of a developmental issue. I wake up to her leaving the cabin. I chase after her thinking she is going to the latrine, but she's sleepwalking. I'm out in the dark barefoot trying to coax this creepy kid back inside when I hear something big out in the woods. I grab the kid and she starts screaming like an infant and goes stiff. I carry her back inside, everyone in my cabin is awake, I don't sleep the rest of the night.

Day two: Sleepwalker is moved to another cabin. That afternoon, when I'm walking the kids back from the latrine, sleepwalker and another kid sneak away from the group. I realize they are gone, get help, find kids fifteen minutes later. Back at camp, they start telling scary stories about their sneaking away, saying it was the "KittyCow" who lives in the woods.

Night two: Wake up and its gotten cold. Get up to close the windows and shutters and see a light in the woods, like someone has a lantern. It "walks" to a point in the woods, then stops. I stay still in the dark and watch it for a long while, about to shrug it off when the light moves again, coming around and going down the side of the cabin, closer, but not close enough to see who is carrying it. I realize its heading to the window by the kids bunk beds, sneak over and close the window and shutters. The light stays close on the other side of the shutters for a long time before moving on and disappearing.
Day three: Tell adults about light. They dismiss it as probably a ranger checking the campsite.
Kids by this time are totally freaking each other out over KittyCow. Literally starting to be afraid to leave the craft area in broad daylight because KittyCow might be there. There's all sorts of weird KittyCow stories. That afternoon, we find out a bear broke into another camp and ate food, so in addition to a real threat, we think that may be the origin of KittyCow.



Night Three: I stay up listening to music to see if the lights will come back. About 1 am, I see it coming by again, again walking to a point in the woods and waiting. Around 1:30, it starts closer to the cabin. As its walking around the side, I hear one of the other chaperones start to yell "hey, who is that? Who's out there?" The light cuts off. I yell back to the chaperone that I saw it too, what should we do? I'm terrified at this point.

The chaperone tells me to bring my kids over to her, holding hands. We all cram in one cabin, and a bit later a thunderstorm starts. For another night I basically don't sleep.

The next day everyone sort of laughs it off again, sort of saying we weren't seeing anything, that maybe it was heat lightning or the kids were playing with flashlights and we saw them reflected. I'm so sleep deprived it hurts and I'm hearing popping noises.

I end up being paired with another chaperone and we go for a hike with the kids. It's all foggy in the woods, and the kids are really strung out between the excitement the night before, which they blame on KittyCow. Out in the woods the kids start claiming they are seeing KittyCow everywhere, sneaking up on us.

I can't tell you now how weird and terrifying things got then. You had this Silent Hill fog, the kids are freaking out over every tree, screaming KittyCow is coming to get them, and I'm barely held together on no sleep, convinced myself that some weirdo has been creeping around our camp.

Things literally devolve into mass hysteria, the kids are literally falling to the ground screaming and sobbing, and the other chaperone LEAVES. She just books it out of the forest back to camp while I am coaxing, pulling, and CARRYING screaming children out of the mist.

I have never and will never experience anything as creepy and terrifying as that afternoon in the woods. While nothing happened, its haunted my dreams since then.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

It's Hard Getting Fired


I was working at a manufacturing company that was sold. The new owners came in and laid off about 30% of the workers. I was not let go, but a guy in my department (we will call him Dave) was. Dave was shocked to be fired because he was certain he was too valuable for them to lose. He was very angry when they let him go.

About a week later he calls me while at work to thank me (this is pre-cellphone so he called me on the company line at the extension for my department). I had recently taught him how to run a new machine and him knowing that was helping him get some decent job prospects. He said he wanted to take me out to lunch as a way of saying thanks.

A few days later we went. He picked me up at work during my lunch break and we drove down the street to this deli. For the first half of the lunch he was pissed off and venting about being fired. I understood his anger and just let him vent. I tried to say the right things and encourage him by telling him he would likely end up with a better job soon.

As lunch wore on things took a dark turn. He started talking about how he could do some real damage in the plant if he wanted to because he could sneak in the side door where nobody would see him and cause havoc before they even knew he was there. He told me how he could slide boards into the handrails of the doors and locked everyone inside if he wanted. He went on to list people he didn't like that he blamed for his being fired.

As lunch came to an end I was still trying to stay positive, but was getting worried that Dave was going to do something rash. As we drove back he told me not to worry. He said he liked and respected me so he would never do anything to me, but some people might need to pay.

We get back, I wish him good luck and I suggest he try to relax a little and maybe spend a few days just unwinding and enjoying the time off. He says goodbye and I head inside.

My department had a window that looked out into the parking lot. I could see where he was parked from that window. He didn't leave after I went inside. He sat in the car with an anguished look on his face. I started getting worried so I told my boss what was up and that I thought we needed to call 911. He did.

The police showed up and at first Dave wouldn't get out of the car. Finally they talked him out of the car and got him handcuffed then they search the car. In the trunk of his car were several short boards, two rifles, a pistol, and a machete.

I was freaking out for two reasons. First, the idea of what he was planning, and second because I was certain he would blame me for his getting caught. He asked to speak to me before they took him away so I went outside assuming if he was going to threaten me it was best if he did it in front of the police. He asked if I called 911. I told him it was me who said to call 911 so yes, I was responsible for the police being there. He then looked me in the eye and said, "Thanks. You might have saved me

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Scary Books

If you can't tell, we here at Alone at Night are ready for October. Halloween! We plan on celebrating the entire month long with marathons of scary books and movies.

Today we'd like to invite you to share your favorite scary books!

We'll start things off with a few of the ones we've enjoyed over the years.

'Salem's Lot by Steven King was terrific. The classic vampire tale, where no one sparkles, but everyone should be afraid. The small-town atmosphere present in many of King's works really sets the scene for the story. Claustrophobic in all the right ways.


For the kidos we have Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. We've shared the wonderful artwork from Stephen Gammel in a previous post, but the stories are dark and terrible and just right for well adjusted kids. Parents may think the stories are too dark, but I remember reading them as a kid and a lot of the darker elements passed over my head until I was older and able to handle them.

Of course there is the wonderful Goosebumps series from R. L. Stine. R. L. Stine has inspired us to write our own scary kid's stories, which maybe one day we'll share bits of on Alone at Night. Also, for slightly older kids, Stine has a great series called Fear Street.

We also really enjoyed  the equally parts funny and horrific "John Dies at the End".  I had it drilled into me by my Screenwriting professor that one shouldn't judge books against their movies. They are separate works of art and comparisons between the two aren't logical. However, we're going to ignore that advice and say that the book John Dies at the End is far more engaging than the movie.


Those are just a few of all the terrific scary books out there. We haven't even mentioned some of our favorites "I Am Legend", "The Haunting of Hill House", "Pet Semetary", etc. We wanted to leave some room for you fine folks to share your favorite scary stories.

Leave a comment!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hunted

I grew up in Oregon and was acquainted with the outdoors at an early age. My favorite hobby came to be hiking, particularly in areas that are either very dangerous or isolated. The health benefits of hiking were secondary to the thrills of walking the edges of exposed cliffs, being in cougar and bear territory, and knowing that I was far from help. Into the Wild was released in the fall of 2007 and I immediately fell in love. Being a high school senior, I could barely go another week living in my parents' house. The movie spoke to my sense of adventure and inspired me to hike the California portion of the Pacific Crest Trail upon graduation.

I made it from the Mexico border to northern California without much incident. I saw rattlesnakes and black bears, experienced dehydration, but nothing happened that made me fear for my life. Somewhere in the Lassen National Forest in northeastern California, I walked around a bend in the trail only to be startled by two people sitting on a rock dressed in nearly all white.

Their faces were dirty, their appearance disheveled, and the man had a long unkempt beard. Both seemed to be in their forties. They looked like the couple who kidnapped Elizabeth Smart. What struck me as odd about the encounter was encountering anybody at all. I frequently went days without seeing a single human being. Their white clothes could be explained away by the need to escape the California summer sun. Their scruffy appearance could be explained away by the fact that most thru-hikers abandon personal hygiene on the trail. After I said hello, they said nothing and simply watched me as I passed. Even that I didn't find odd. I chalked it up to them being foreign and not knowing what to say.

I camped a few hundred yards off the trail that night, as I always did. Following bear precautions, I hung the leftover food I had cooked that night from a tree approximately five feet off the ground. Packing up camp in the morning, I noticed the food wasn't there. I immediately thought a bear had entered my campsite and so I began to look for paw prints. I didn't find paw prints, but I did find boot prints circling the campsite, two pairs of them. One of those prints led right up the rope from which the food was hanging. I thought of the couple I had passed earlier and everything clicked. I quickly packed up and left. My mind was racing the entire day, but I figured the couple was simply hungry. If they had nefarious intentions, they would have come for more than the food.

Several days passed and my mind was at ease again. I had begun to circle my campsite with sticks to wake me in the event of an intruder, animal or otherwise. I awoke in my tent one night to the sound of those sticks crunching. I grabbed my hunting knife. I tried to relax by telling myself that in the middle of nowhere, the source of that noise is much more likely an animal than a person. Then I heard frantic whispering. It was impossible to tell which direction the voices were coming from. Being in the dark, surrounded by trees, a hundred miles from the nearest city plays tricks on your senses. I debated yelling out claiming to have a gun but instead decided to be silent and retain the benefit of surprise. I heard footsteps circling my tent and was ready to slash and whatever opened it. But just like that, it was over. No more footsteps, no more whispering. I lied frozen awake in my tent until sunrise and opened my tent to find nobody there. The only evidence something had actually happened were the boot prints, the same as before.

Several more days passed and I was now in Shasta National Forest, probably 50 to 75 miles from where I first encountered the couple. The trail became more or less a goat trail. Being on the side of a mountain and above the tree line, I could see the trail winding for miles in front of and behind me. I stopped for water in the rare shade and noticed two hikers miles behind me. All I could see were two white dots moving along the mountainside. I immediately said out loud, "Fuck this, this trip is over." I pulled out my map and looked for the nearest town, which appeared to be Castella located off I-5. The only problem was that it was 25 miles away. I hiked well into the night trying to gain as much ground as possible. I kept losing the trail and decided to set up camp, this time far off the trail and into the forest. I got in my tent and tried to sleep but every little noise kept me awake.

After a few hours in my tent I heard the telltale signs of another bad night: the footsteps, the whispering, the sticks breaking. Sound travels far in the absence of other sound. I knew they were close, but wasn't sure how close. All I could think was "This is fucked up, this is so fucked up. God dammit." Finally a flashlight hits my tent, lights up the entire thing, and goes dark. I unzipped my tent and climbed out carrying my knife, yelling nonsense into the dark. It was sort of like that cliche scene in movies where people in the wilderness hear sticks breaking around them and the camera pans around the trees because the people have no idea which direction the sound is coming from.
Then I heard footsteps running towards the tent and barely made out a figure moving in my peripheral vision. I turned and ran deep into the forest. I tripped several times and ran into several trees. After running for approximately five minutes I tripped, rolled, and came to rest next to a downed tree. I got under the tree trunk and laid still. I saw the flashlight moving around in the distance. I laid under that tree for hours. I was certain they were gone but I didn't move. Eventually birds started chirping and I knew sunrise would come soon. Once it did I made my way back to the trail, abandoned my campsite, and walked the rest of the distance to Castella where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses I-5.

I hitchhiked my way to the town of Mt. Shasta and spoke with the police and forest service. They put me up in a motel for the night, and my parents drove from Oregon to pick me up the next day. I followed up with the police and forest service months later who told me there had been similar reports of items disappearing from campsites throughout the surrounding national forests. However, there had been no other reports of the terrorizing that I experienced. As far as I know, nothing ever came of the couple.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Tell People You Love Alone at Night

Hello, dear readers. I hope the day finds you well. As we lead up to the spookiest month of the year (in the US at least), we hope you share with us some treats as well as tricks. If you're reading this, then you're probably a fan of what we are working toward building here at Alone at Night. So, do us and your fellow Alone at Nighters a favor and share that love with your friends, family, and internet strangers everywhere!


The more people coming to the site (which we make no money off of btw), the more scary stories will be submitted, the more comments will be made. In short, we'll have a more thriving site for us all to enjoy.

So, please, link to an Alone at Night story on your Facebook page, tell your friends to check us out and submit that story they were telling you the other day. Help us grow.


Let's make October our spookiest month ever!


Stay Safe,


Alone at Night





Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ambush



"I was driving a shortcut from Twentynine Palms, CA to Albuquerque, NM. Twentynine Palms is located in the desolate high desert east of LA. The shortcut was all two lane road through total nothingness, except for passing through Amboy, CA. Amboy is a nearly abandoned town nearly as far below sea level as Death Valley, with a dormant volcano and lava field on one side and a salt flat on the other. It was also, at the time, a hotspot for satanic group activity.

"So I was driving by myself in the afternoon. I stopped in Amboy and snapped a picture of the city sign, just to prove I was there to friends who dared me to take that route to I-40. I got back in my car and proceeded to drive up into the mountain range between Amboy and I-40.

Once I reach the top I am driving north through a canyon with high grass on both sides of the road. Up ahead I see some stuff in the middle of the road. As I approach I slow down to see a red Pontiac Fiero stopped sideways across both lanes, a suitcase open with clothes scattered everywhere and two bodies laying face down in the road, a man and a woman.

I stop a hundred feet or so away and the hair on the back of my neck is standing up. Being a Marine, I reach under the seat and pull out a 9mm pistol and chamber a round. Something seemed very wrong, it looked too perfect as if it were staged. An ambush? Was I being paranoid? Something was just wrong. Getting out of the car seemed unthinkable, it was the horror movie move.

As I scanned the road I saw a line I could drive. Pass the guy in the road on his left, swerve to the right side of the woman, behind the Fiero and I'd be on the other side. I dropped it into first gear, punched it and drove the line I planned.

I passed the back of the Fierro without hitting it or either of the bodies in the road. I continued forward a couple hundred feet and slowed down so I could breathe and let my heart slow down. As I looked up into the rearview mirror I saw that the two bodies had gotten up to their knees and twenty or so people emerged from the tall grass on either side of the road by the car and bodies.
At that moment my right foot smashed the gas pedal to the floor and did not let up until I had to slowdown for the I-40 east onramp.

I will never know what would have happened to me had I gotten out of the car to check on the bodies or stopped my car closer to them. Somehow I do not think it would have been good. Sometimes real life can be scarier than a movie."


**Alone at Night Note:

This story was shared on Reddit. We've seen a lot of these types of stories. People needing help on a desolate highway, and then BAM a group emerges from the shadows to do untold and ungodly acts upon innocent good Samaritans. We're skeptics here at Alone at Night, which is part of the reason we created this sight, to share true scary stories and none of that paranormal bull shit. That being said, we don't want to say this person is lying about their encounter, or making parts of it up. We just think readers should be leary about such fantastic tales. As you've seen in our other stories, there is enough truly frightening people and events in this world of ours, that we don't need to look elsewhere for a scare. However, we love a good scary movie/book/art as much as the next person, so occasionally we'll share stories, such as this, that we're pretty certain aren't true just because they're a good yarn.

Old School Scary Artists

This post is for the one voter who went against the pack, declared "I am not a Lemming!" and voted for a favorite part of Alone at Night that isn't "true scary stories". Here's some more freaky art.

There is a lot that artists can do with technology these days. Some truly amazing, and if desired terrifying art can be created. However, to us at Alone at Night, old school artists have made more chilling art than any Photoshop pro could dream of. Here's a few examples:


This is by Henry Fuseli, titled "The Nightmare" created in 1781.

and the one below by Peter Paul Rubens created in 1636 "Saturn Devouring his Son"





Then, of course, you have pretty much anything from the great Hieronymous Bosch



We love some of the scary art that digital artists are making these days, but sometimes you just have to go with the classics.



PS. If you haven't heard of any of these artists, (really? Not even hieronymous Bosch?!) then go to a museum, you uncultured clods.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Your House is Lonely and Peeping Tom's Come for Dinner

I'd just turned seventeen, only a few months ago. I was at home with my mother and sister who I lived with at the time, both of them sleeping and leaving me to deal with my boredom by myself.

The house we were living in at the time was tiny as hell. It only had two bedrooms, and was all on one floor. But, luckily for us, it was a really wooded area that we lived in. It was super difficult just to 'find'.  It didn't face any streets and had three turns on a driveway strip just to get to the house.
 No way would anyone just stumble across it, you had to actively search for our home.

It was about one in the morning and I was messing around on the computer and watching TV, procrastinating from sleeping. There was no good reason for me to not go to bed just yet, but I was relaxed and totally chill with staying up for a few more hours. Since my mum had just gone to bed about an hour before, I hadn't begun to lock up the house for the night, aka all of our windows were still open, and most importantly, our living room windows.

We had a bay window, and I hated it. This window was freaking huge. Probably about 8 feet long and 6 feet tall. It even has smaller windows on the sides of it so you can open those and get a good breeze. It takes up most of the wall, and during the day it's great. We could look outside our window and we're surrounded by trees and the sunlight in our lawn. But at night time? When you look out, all you can see is darkness. Not good for a paranoid teenager.

I was sitting on the couch, which is right next to the window, when I heard something outside start shifting and dragging. We had wild animals roam across our lawns all the time at nighttime, and bunnies were abundant, so I wasn't too worried. But after about five minutes of this continual noise, I began to get a little worried. I tried to glance out, but all I could see was darkness. Listening closer, I froze; The sound was footfalls. There was someone outside.

For a moment, I just sat there, not sure what to do. Sometimes my older brother, who worked about five minutes away from our house, would stop by when he got off early in the morning and pop out when I opened the front door to see what was making noise. But this seemed different, I felt really  vulnerable. The feeling of being watched was really heavy and made my blood run freezing cold.

Sliding off of my couch, I walked over to my front door, which wasn't locked. Seeing as it was such a small place, the front door led directly into our living room, and was less than six feet of wall space away from those huge windows.

As quietly as I could, I locked the door and turned on the porch light, hoping that I was just wrong and I'd see an animal scamper away.

I was dead wrong. The moment I turned on the light, the porch light had lit up the front lawn, revealing the silhouette of an adult man, standing directly in front of my front door. I've never been so fucking terrified in my entire life, so the first thing I did was sprint back to my kitchen, watching the front door and window carefully and grabbing the biggest knife I could find, which was longer than my forearm.

I continued to keep my eyes looking out at it as I walked sideways, making my way to where my mum and little sister were sleeping. I looked away for a split second to get the door unlocked to their room, and when I looked back up I nearly started crying.

The guy was probably over 40, dressed completely in black and had his face pressed up against my window. We made eye contact and kept it, and by then my brain just didn't seem to be working. This guy had been pacing back and forth in front of my house for at least five minutes, and now was just looking at me. If he'd wanted, he could have hit out my screen and gotten in.

Panicking, I grabbed the door handle and threw the door open as hard as I could, turning and sprinting into the room. I'd woken my mum up when I'd slammed the door open, but she didn't really register there was danger until she saw me waving a knife around and yelling.

By the time she came out into our living room, he was gone. We called the police. They checked out the area and the guy wasn't anywhere in sight, but apparently there was a long rut in the ground out in our lawn from where he was pacing back and forth. Right in front of those windows. It wasn't too far out, but if I'd looked out at any time, he could have seen me and I never aw him. That thought still freaks me out to this day.

They haven't had any more cases of him window peaking since, but I have no idea what he would have done if he'd actually gotten into the house. Still, my mums first course of action was to go out and get me mace, in case any more incidences like it happen again.

Point being, from this point on, windows and doors get shut and locked the moment the sun goes down, no exceptions.