Monday, October 31, 2016

Book Reading/signing

At our first book reading/signing.
Terrifying Tales: 13 Scary Stories for Children is available on Amazon digital and paperback. Get your copy today.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Halloween Podcasts

We at Alone at Night love Podcasts. We listen to around 20 different podcasts weekly and always look forward to Halloween season, because many of our favorite shows put out special episodes. Below is a list of some of our favorite podcasts that have great spooky episodes. Take a listen and thank us later.

Snap Judgement and their Campfire Tales episodes (currently on the third installment). Snap Judgement is a live story telling show, very similar to it's more famous cousin The Moth.

The Horror is a collection of old-time radio episodes meant to give you a scare. They don't need to do special Halloween episodes, because for The Horror, everyday is Halloween.

Radio Lab is an institution among creative radio shows. It's the grandfather and role model for many of the podcasts currently raking in the listeners. The show has been around for ages and as such has several episodes dealing with the things that go bump in the night. Here are a couple of examples: Ghost Stories, Haunted

At its core, Astonishing Legends is just two guys talking about weird things. Many of their episodes could be appropriate for Halloween but just three episodes after they began they covered the Greyfirars Kirkyard for a terrific Halloween special episode. Check it out.

Here There Be Monster Podcast is another podcast where every episode could be considered a Halloween episode. HTBMP covers all things creepy from criptids and ghosts, to aliens and other strange encounters. The show specializes in listener contributions.

We're not the biggest fan of the Thinking Sideways podcasts. The show's host's personalities can be a bit unbearable at times, but they do cover a lot of spooky stuff. Episode topics range from true-life crimes, unsolved murders and disappearances, but they also cover the paranormal and supernatural on occasion.  Here's an episode about the Gates of Hell located, fittingly enough, in Kansas. We also heard that the gates of Heaven are located in a cornfield in Iowa.

Finally, we end with a show of which most radio listeners are familiar. Like Radio Lab, it is an institution. It's been around for ages, and is the gold standard for audio story telling. We're talking, of course, about This American Life. This American Life has been around for so long that even though they are in no way a spooky show there are several episodes that are appropriate for Halloween. We especially liked this one called "And the Call Was Coming from in the House".

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Here's a scary short film for your enjoyment. You can see the ending coming from a mile away, but its still fun. Enjoy.

Friday, October 14, 2016


Everyone disappeared. It happened on the last day of October -- the 31st. Gradually at first. Then, before midnight, I was the only one left.

I awoke on October 31st and at first thought nothing of the day. I didn't realize anything was wrong until I went down stairs, hair still wet from my shower, and found the kitchen empty. Every Halloween that I can remember began with pancakes shaped vaguely like pumpkins carefully crafted by my holiday-obsessed father. But not this morning.

The house was silent. I called out for my dad, wondering where he was and what he was up to. I thought maybe he was trying to pull some sort of prank on me. The saying is, after all, trick or treat. The sound of my own voice startled me. It cut the silence in the house like a dull knife. There was no response.

It was strange, but not so alarming that I would call 911, or anything as drastic as that. There were a number of explanations rattling trough my mind as to where my dad might be. Called in to work, out of pancake fixings, out for a  Saturday  morning walk, maybe. All I knew for certain was that I was alone in the house.

There wasn't anything else unusual at this moment, nothing that would have given me pause and clued me in to the mystery that would follow the rest of the day. There was the normal amount of traffic on the street outside my windows. I saw the usual number of neighbors picking up their newspaper, or getting an early start to their lawn care or other weekend chores.

It was watching the world outside my window getting on with their day that made me remember the list of things on my to-do list. Item number one, get candy for trick-or-treaters. My dad had tasked me with this yesterday over dinner, and I had promised to pick up three bags in time for tonight's frivolities.

I grabbed my jacket from the hook near the door, walked out to my car and drove to the store. I said hello to the greeter standing just within the entryway, an elderly man that liked to sing old R&B songs to pass his time at work. There were large displays of discounted bags of candy just feet from the entrance, and I grabbed three bags at random. I used the self-checkout lane, which was also the closest to the entrance, scanned my items and paid. On my way out, I looked for the greeter to say goodbye, but he was gone.

The drive home was uneventful. Maybe the traffic was a little lighter than would be normal for the day and time, but there were still plenty of cars on the road. As I turned onto my street, I noticed the trees in the neighborhood, which just a week earlier had leaves the colors of a campfire, stood mostly barren. How quickly seasons change.

I parked my car and greeted my next door neighbor, Mrs. Murdie. She was in her yard, a dog leash gripped tightly in her hand, her golden lab, Bessie, doing her business. I remarked how cold it had gotten and Mrs. Murdie agreed. I asked if she had seen my father this morning, and she gave me a strange look, as if confused by the question. She is getting on in years, so I shrugged it off, wished her a nice day and went inside.

I had forgotten my phone at home, and I checked it first thing when I entered the house. Nothing from my dad, but I did have a message from my friend, Sarah. She wanted my help moving her ex-boyfriend's stuff from her apartment. They'd gone through a bad breakup, he cheated, and she kicked him out, but he wouldn't move. She said he was out this morning for work and she wanted to move his stuff to the curb. She's my best friend, so I had to help.

When I arrived at Sarah's apartment, half of the guy's stuff was already on the curb. We didn't have any boxes to put things in, so we just carried armfuls of junk and set it down on the sidewalk. Sarah said she didn't want to talk about it. It took longer than I would have guessed. It was around five pm when we finished.

I asked Sarah when her ex would be getting home. She looked at me sideways and asked who I was talking about. I thought maybe I wasn't clear in my question and asked her again what time her ex would be out of work and get home. He was always jealous of Sarah and my relationship I didn't really want to  be there when he came home to find all of his things on the sidewalk. Sarah said she didn't know who I was talking about. I thought at first maybe she was just doing one of those things you do when you have a break up, pretend that person doesn't exist. I said it was going to be hard to pretend he didn't exist until after he picked his belonging up off the curb. Sarah asked if I was feeling okay, a genuine look of concern on her face. I told her that I was, and I asked if she was? I told her that I know how breakups can hit people hard sometimes and I was starting to worry about her. Then she asked me what I was talking about. She said she hadn't just broken up with anyone. That she had never dated anyone.

I didn't know how to respond. It was unlike Sarah to take this approach to a breakup. To swear off having ever dated anyone? In the six years we've been friends, I've seen her go through more guys than I have fingers. It wasn't a healthy way to deal with it, but I knew her well. She could handle a breakup. I was worried about her, but I was worried about my dad, too. I had sent him several texts throughout the day and he hadn't responded to one. I told Sarah I would call her later this evening to check up on her, and I took my leave.

The drive home was strange. There were far fewer cars on the road than there normally would be on such a day and time. I was becoming increasingly concerned with the day.

When I arrived home, I got out of my car and something crashed into me, nearly knocked me off my feet. It was Bessie. She jumped at me, wagging her tale, happy to see me. I didn't see Mrs. Murdie. It wasn't like her to let Bessie out off leash, as she had a tendency to bolt. I took Bessie by the collar and walked her to Mrs. Murdie's door. My knock was answered by silence. I knocked again, but there was no answer. My dad was allergic to dogs, so I couldn't take Bessie into our house. I tried Mrs. Murdie's door and it opened.

The door half opened, I poked my head in and called out for my neighbor. No response. I opened the door the rest of the way and took a step into the house. I called out again. Still nothing. I let go of Bessie's collar, hoping that maybe she would run to her owner, but she just circled a few times and then curled up on the floor.

 I entered the house proper and called out again for my elderly neighbor. She is old, but her hearing has always been fine. I was worried she might have fallen. I searched the house, and didn't find her. It wasn't until I was done searching and nervously petting Bessie that I came across something strange. All the picture frames in the house were empty. I'd been in Mrs. Murdie's house before and on nearly every wall hung pictures of her family. Now, the frames were barren.

I had no idea what was going on. Did my neighbor remove all her old photos that she previously seemed to adore? Was she going to put in new photos? I couldn't say, but it was an odd sight. One that sent chills down my spine. I made sure Bessie and water and food and then went back to my own house.

I had hoped to see my dad when I entered, but he wasn't there. I checked my phone and saw that he still hadn't responded to my texts. I tried calling him. The call didn't go through. I received an automated message saying that the number was invalid. I hadn't dialed the number in. I used the saved contact. I checked the contact number, maybe somehow I had accidentally changed it, but the number was the same as it always had been.

I was standing in the middle of my living room, everything quiet, when the doorbell rang, jolting me out of my head and my increasingly darker thoughts. I answered the door expecting a police officer, or for some strange reason, my dad, though why he would have used the doorbell I don't know. Instead I found a zombie carrying a pillow case.

The zombie yelled trick-or-treat in a high voice and I simply stared motionless at it for a moment. I saw a woman standing on the sidewalk take a tentative step toward my house and was jolted awake. It was a kid trick-or-treating. Of course it was. It was Halloween. I went inside and grabbed a newly purchased bag of candy, tore it open and dropped an absent minded handful into the kid's nearly empty sack.

Before the child-zombie could walk away though, I stopped him. His candy bag was nearly empty. It was well into the trick-or-treating hours now and that kid's sack should have been nearly overflowing. I asked the kid where all the candy was, and received a blank dead stare in response. I asked how many houses he had been to where people answered their door and the kid said a few, an unhelpful answer. The mother had moved to my porch steps by now. She encouraged her kid to come on and go to the next  house. I asked her, hadn't she noticed there were far fewer people out trick-or-treating this year? Why were so many people not answering their doors? Why didn't her kid have more candy? She said there was the same number of people as always, asked if I was playing some kind of Halloween trick and then ushered her kid away from my house. She glanced back at me as they walked pass Mrs. Murdie's dark house and moved down the street.

I scanned the dark sidewalk for other trick-or-treaters. I saw another pair far down the block, but that was it. Three kids out on Halloween? All of my neighbor's houses dark? Something was happening. Something I couldn't understand.

I went back inside and called my dad again. Again the automated message saying I dialed an unknown number. I called Sarah. The call rang once and then the dreaded automated message answered.

Maybe there was some sort of evacuation that not everyone knew about. Maybe a train carrying hazardous chemicals had derailed. There had to be some reason why everyone had disappeared.

I turned on the television. It was time for the eleven o'clock local news. The TV didn't pick the signal up. There was only a black screen. I changed the channel. Again a blank black screen.

I dug my phone out of my pocket and tried one last call, 911. There was automated response after I punched in the numbers. There was no dial tone. Nothing.

I ran to my room and woke up my laptop. I tried to open Facebook, but was given an HTTP 404 screen. Same thing with Twitter, with the New York Times.

I walked back down stairs. I sat on the couch.

So, that brings us to the present. To my knowledge everyone in my town, and perhaps state, or maybe even the world has disappeared. That's reason enough to be afraid, but I'm afraid for one more reason. Just moments ago, with the last seconds of Halloween ticking off the clock, there was a knock at my front door.

by D.K. (Alone at Night)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Fly Watches the Wall

I've always been a watcher. A window looker. Don't worry. I swear I'm harmless. Then again, most people will swear that about themselves and all you have to do is turn on the six o'clock news to know that some people are liars.
It's a problem of curiosity. I want to know what you're doing. How you're living. See the ways in which you spend your time. Life, you see, is overpowering in its abundance of experiences. We are, each of us, a universe unto ourselves. I want to leave my world and be a part of yours.
I get stuck in my head. I can't get outside of myself to see what other people are thinking, or feeling. I know that you have thoughts. I know that you do feel. I just can't experience it. Then other times I care too much. I get outside of myself and try to get inside of you, to know you intimately, head and heart.
It is the way you act when you are alone. Do you eat cereal late at night while staring at a blank wall? Do you talk to yourself, argue with yourself, berate yourself for all of your faults both real and imagined? Do you walk around naked?
Oh, to be a fly on your wall.
I can't decide if I need to remind you that I'm harmless a second time. Will it reassure you, or will it make you think I'm trying too hard? You tell me. What are you thinking?
I live in suburbia. I can't say it is the best place for people like me -- and there are many people like me. I can say it does offer some advantages. The residential streets are often dark, with a treasure of concealing shadows. Most people keep their curtains closed or blinds drawn, but not everyone. There are back alleys that run behind houses. People are less likely to close their blinds on the backside of their homes. They think, who would be in the alley late at night. Me.
I've seen you. Yes, I've seen you. Alone. Lonely. I've seen you get dressed on a Friday night like you've someplace to go. I've seen you prop up your courage with alcohol. I've watched you walk to your front door only to hesitate. We both know there's no one out there waiting for you. You have no plans made. I witness your hopes as they slowly fall to the floor like glass from a broken window. I've smiled as you changed out of your weekend best and back into your sweatpants and t-shirt, sit back on the couch with a frown and bathe yourself in the television’s sickly glow.
You don't belong to the outside world. There is no one waiting for you. There is no one waiting for you. There is no one waiting for you. There is no one else waiting for you. Only me.
Ours is a one-sided relationship. I witness you, your actions and inaction, your terrible sameness and your shinning individuality. Have you ever done something and wondered, how many people have done this exact same thing? Is there ever a time when you answer yourself truthfully with no one?
When I want, I can be invisible. You could look right at me and not see me, not know who I am or what I do. You might be near me at this very moment, but you'll never know. You'll never know until I want you to know and that might never happen. Or, it could happen tonight. Who is to say?
Take solace in knowing that you're not special. You're one of a hundred, a thousand. You're just another wall to another fly.
I am a fly.
You are a wall.
You are a galaxy.
I am a watcher.

by D.K. (Alone at Night)

Wild Dogs

Years ago, when I was a much younger pup than I am now, I thought I was invincible and I used to enjoy backpacking at night.  If the sky was clear and there was a large moon, I wouldn't even bring a flashlight.

            There was something freeing in the limited way I could take in the world through my eyes.  My other senses were freed to run wild.  I could hear better, smell better, feel the air and the ground underfoot better. 
There are many reasons why most people don't backpack at night.  If you're familiar with the woods in the slightest, then you probably could explain to me why my hobby was in fact very stupid.  It is very easy to get lost while hiking at night.  You could trip, twist an ankle, and then what would you do?  That, however, wasn't what finally stopped by from hiking alone at night. I stopped because it's at night that the woods come alive.
I was hiking a short trail in a national forest. It was a trail I'd hiked many times before.  I had a small pack on my back with just the essentials: tent, sleeping bag, food and some water. 

            The trail was a three mile loop, and I knew it by heart.  I was about two miles in when I heard a rustling in the underbrush near the trail.  I didn't live in bear territory, and there was very little animal life in the woods I frequented that could harm me.  So, I wasn't worried.  I figured it would be an opossum, or possibly a raccoon, though it sounded larger.

            I paused, and watched for a moment, and the sound stopped.  After a few more seconds, I turned to continued. There was more rustling and when I turned around, there was a dog on the trail. 
            He was some sort of mutt, and he was big, around German Sheppard sized.  His hackles were raised and he growled.  Quite suddenly I was surrounded by another five or six dogs, of various sizes and breeds.  They were all growling and barking and generally pissed off. 

            By that point, I was scared.  I had a walking stick that I used, an old hockey stick cut to size, and it was my only option as a weapon. An idea came to me.
            I took a swing at a dog to my right and he easily dodged out of reach.  However, when he dodged my swing a hole opened in their perimeter and I snuck through, jumped, grabbed a low hanging tree branch, and pulled myself up. 

            The dogs barked, and growled, and leaped at the branch on which I was perched.  I climbed a couple branches higher, and watched in disbelief as they ripped apart my discarded backpack.
            The dogs didn't stay long around the tree.  They seemed to realize they couldn't get to me and they trotted off. Maybe they were trying to trick me into thinking it was safe to climb down.

I slept in the tree until morning.  From the safety of my perch, I searched the woods around in all directions, but saw no sign of any dogs.  In the daylight all things seem safer, so I hopped to the ground, gathered up the remains of my pack and walked back to the trail head and my car. 
             I stopped by the ranger station on my way back home and notified them of what happened.  It was the first they'd heard of the dogs, and for the next several months when I'd go hiking, in the day time, there were posters up at trail heads warning hikers and campers of the wild pack. I also don't hike at night anymore.
 by D.K. (Alone at Night)


About six years ago, I lived in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It’s a small town just outside of the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. It was, and probably still is, a tourist trap, but I moved there shortly after graduating college because I loved the Smokey Mountains and enjoyed being so close to the park. I spent every free moment I had in the park, hiking and camping.
One sultry summer weekend I was hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail that ran through the park. I found my camp site for the evening, and I started to settle in. I remembered taking a few moments to find the best place to pitch my tent, no widow-maker branches above, even ground below, no roots, etc. While doing this, I noticed that, seemingly, I was the only one camping in this spot.
Though summer is the busy season at the park, it isn’t that unusual to be alone at a camp site, even one off so popular a trail as the AT. Most people don’t like to get dirty.
It wasn’t until I had my tent set up, and had gotten a cooking fire going that I heard an unusual sound. Someone was singing. I couldn’t catch the words, but I could tell that they had a sing-song quality to them. The sun was setting, but it wasn’t dark yet, so I went out to see who my neighbor was.
I tried to follow the voice, but every time I thought I was getting closer, the sound seemed to drop off or move locations. Night falls like a hatchet in the woods. One moment it’s light and the next it’s dark. So, too, did that night. I clicked on my headlamp, and followed the small glow from the glo-stick I had cracked and hung from my tent earlier.
Imagine my surprise when I got back to my tent to find a man hovering over my fire, singing to himself. Though he was hunched over my fire, I remember thinking how tall he was. He had snow white hair and must have been in his sixties. I stood still for a moment trying to judge this man, and calm my imagination. This pause gave me an opportunity to hear his song. He sang:
In the great book of John, you're warned of the day when you'll be laid beneath the cold clay. The Angel of Death will come from the sky and claim your poor soul when the time comes to die.
Like most men who hike into the wild alone, and sleep among the bears and wolves in the woods, I am a man of strong nerves. I don’t scare easily. However, the sight of that old man, with his long white hair and big beard, crouched over my fire and singing this foreboding tune was enough to turn my weaken my knees.
With no other options, I walked out of the woods and into the clearing where I had made camp. The man looked up and stood, and he was very tall, and thin as a bone. We exchanged simple greetings of hello. I asked him what he was doing, and he said he was waiting to see who was camping near him. Made enough sense, I suppose, since it was the same thing that I was trying to do. I told him my name, and asked his, and he gave me his trail name (most thru-hikers of the AT take up a trail name). The man said he was Cotton Joe. We spoke a little and mainly sat in silence near the fire. After a while and without a word, he walked off into the night.
I cooked my food, and broke out my flask of spiced rum. It was definitely a night, where a little alcohol would help me get to sleep. I had my journal out and was writing down this odd occurrence, as I watched the fire die down, and I heard the man singing once more:
When The Angel of Death comes down after you, can you smile and say that you have been true? Can you truthfully say with your dying breath that you're ready to meet the Angel of death? When the lights all grow dim and the dark shadows creep, and then your loved ones are gathered to weep, can you face them and say with your dying breath that you're ready to meet the Angel of Death?
Not a tune to fall asleep to.

by D.K. (Alone at Night)