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The Intruder

The Intruder

A Story by Clifford
"

~Halloween-themed~ Based on a true story

"
Little Jakey woke with a start, but he couldn't place why. After a few moments, he realized the reason: his nightlight was dead. His eyes widened and his chest felt heavy. The darkness seemed to shrink and surround his bed, drawing closer and closer with each breath. He stopped breathing and listened, hoping the monsters under his bed weren't there tonight. His thudding heart was loud and distracting, but he didn't think he could hear anything crawling around.
Jakey pulled the covers off of himself and slowly slid his feet off the side of the bed. Once he felt the cold floor beneath him, he started to tiptoe to his door. He heard a whisper and froze. He turned back to his bed and, squinting against the darkness, saw a small object on his nightstand. He soon identified it as his sister's baby monitor.
That was supposed to be in Lily's room. Why was it in here?
Jakey's father's voice played in his head: You're a brother now. You have to be brave for your sister.
Swallowing past a lump in his throat, Jakey crept across the hall. His chest grew tighter with each step he took, until, finally, he was mere inches from the doorway. He tightened his jaw to keep his teeth from chattering. He peeked his head into the room.
His father's silhouette stood over Lily, reaching into the crib. Something seemed weird about his posture, but Jakey couldn't place what.
"Daddy?" he called.
Slowly, ever so slowly, his father looked over. His pale eyes--the only visible feature of his face--seemed to glow. He raised a finger to his lips. "Shhh." He remained motionless, staring blankly at Jakey.
Goosebumps broke out over Jakey's skin. Nodding to his father, he crept away from the door. He turned around and walked down the hallway, his hand on the wall for support. He hesitated at the staircase, the bottom hidden by shadows. After slowly exhaling, he hurried down the steps. His quivering legs were unresponsive, and he almost tripped a few times before he reached the ground floor. He went to his parent's room and stopped in the doorway, holding his breath, listening. Dozens of eyes seemed to hone in on him from the darkness. He could almost see the Bad Men from the movies. Somewhere in the house, something banged, almost like a door. Jakey instinctively shuffled forward, into the room.
He tried to speak, but words refused to leave past his throat. He painfully swallowed a few times. "M...M-Mommy?" he said, his voice little more than a hoarse whisper. A few seconds of silence passed. He tried to call out again, but his teeth were clacking too wildly.
He urged his shaky legs forward until he was standing by the edge of his parents' bed. His heart seemed to stop.
Both his parents were lying in bed, sound asleep.
Jakey's blood went cold. His teeth went quiet. His legs stopped shaking. His neck tingled.
Jakey turned and, moving more quickly than he ever had in his life, sprinted to Lily's room. He turned on the light and went to the crib. Lily was nowhere to be seen.
An earsplitting, bloodcurdling scream came from Jakey's lips. It seemed to last forever. Gradually, the scream became raspy and petered out. Jakey found himself on his hands and knees, panting heavily.
Two heavy sets of footsteps approached him. Someone crouched down next to him, and the shadow of another person loomed over him.
"Jacob," a stern voice said. Jakey's eyes were locked on the floor by his left hand. Blood rushed past his ears. "Jacob!"
Jakey started and looked up. His father's eyes bore into him, chilling him to his very core.
"Where is your sister?" he snapped. "What did you do with her?"
Jakey's vision blurred and warmth ran down his face. The only sounds he could make were wet sobs. Hard hands gripped his shoulders so firmly it hurt and started shaking him.
"He took her!" Jakey shouted defensively. His voice was impossibly dry, and it hurt to talk.
The hands loosened. Slowly, Jakey looked back up. His father stared at him, his face unreadable.
"Who took her?" Jakey took a few quicks, raspy breaths. His father shook him, face hardening.
Jakey stammered. "I-I-I-huh-he--"
A door slammed downstairs.
Jakey's father paused. He looked at something behind Jakey. "Stay still." He stood up and made for the door, walking behind Jakey. His footsteps paused. "Call the cops." He went to the door and locked it. He flicked off the lights, coating the room in darkness. After a moment, Jakey's mother started whispering into a phone.
Loud footsteps started coming up the stairs. Her voice continued but then stopped as the footsteps approached the door.
"Come quickly," she urgently whispered, then lowered the phone. She knelt down and wrapped her arms around Jakey.
The footsteps paused right in front of their door. A couple seconds passed, then the doorknob rattled. Something banged on the door, so loudly Jakey thought it was about to fly off the hinges. He clamped a hand over his mouth to keep from screaming.
Three more bangs, followed by silence. The knob moved again. Jakey's heart was pounding so loudly he was sure his parents could hear it.
Finally, the footsteps moved on, disappearing down the hallway.
The silence stretched on for what felt like hours. Just when Jakey couldn't take it anymore, a sound came from below them. Several sets of footsteps spread out across the house.
"It's the police," Jakey's dad whispered. "Stay here." Still crouched, he made his way to the door. He went into the hallway, closing the door behind him.
Jakey's mother darted to the door and locked it again. She returned and held him tighter.
Nearly two minutes passed, in almost complete silence. Then a knock came.
"It's me," Jakey's father said. His mother, still holding Jakey, went to the door and opened it. Jakey's dad and a police officer stood in the doorway. They came into the room, with Jakey's dad embracing his wife and son.
"You folks will be okay," the officer said. "We're scoping out your house, making sure everything's safe. I'll stay with you until everything's clear."

Years later, Jacob could remember nearly every detail from that night. Even though no one was hurt, it was traumatizing, especially to his five-year-old self.
The police found a forty-something hiding in the basement with Lily. They arrested him and, upon later searching, found he'd been living in the ceiling of the basement. He stowed away with a sleeping bag and several knives.
The perpetrator, David Crist, later confessed to plotting to kill the family.
Among all the details of that night, one always returned to Jacob when he thought back on the event: what would have happened if his nightlight hadn't died?

© 2017 Clifford



Author's Note

Clifford
I'm not typically a fan of this genre, but I figured I might as well give it a shot for the Halloween season. It's a bit out of my comfort zone, in more than one way, but I hope you enjoy it all the same. I'm not entirely satisfied with how the story progresses toward the end, so I'm open to suggestions.

My Review

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Featured Review

I like the use of descriptive words- really helps draw me into the story.And for going out of your comfort zone, this is a really good start. Very spooky. But I do agree, very anti-climatic ending. For a realistic story, it's perfect. It sounds like journal article turned into a story. Typically with scary stories, the police are for whatever reason unavailable to save the day and the ending is a "by the teeth" conclusion. Either very ominously does the villian win or very narrowly, the hero wins. If you want a really scary story, you could leave it ambiguously. Possibly ending it where Jakey discovers his parents are both asleep in bed. Maybe he also saw a second assailant he took for his mother and interacted with her quite a bit before the discovery. Or maybe after seeing his parents, he runs back to his sisters room, etc. etc. but they never find who took Lily or maybe they do (in a less than ideal condition) but never find the assailant. OR Jakey's parents never wake up leaving him alone to fight the assailant. Or hide from him while he kills the rest of the family.
Scary stories typically leave you with a bone chill afterwards, questions still unanswered. So reassuring the reader with all the answers afterwards like "they found the baby alive and well with the bad guy and he's gone now and everything's all good now" aren't especially campfire worthy.

Just a few mechanical suggestions as well: In that first paragraph, perhaps instead of darkness "shrinking" around his bed, it would expand and engulf. That would make more sense. And instead of "He painfully swallowed a few times."- "Painfully, he swallowed a few times."
"She went back to him and held him even tightly." - "She returned to hold him even tighter"

Other than that, I think you had a really strong start and a great opening into a real thriller. Just leave us thrilled in the end. Endings are everything in a scary story.

Posted 11 Months Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Clifford

11 Months Ago

This story really isn't meant to be a campfire story. It was never my intention to have a super thri.. read more
DB Heinemann

11 Months Ago

Ah, I see. When I think darkness as shrinking, I think it's more going away than coming back. But ot.. read more



Reviews

I love this. Everything is described pergectly; the scene is set; it's scary. Thanks for posting cause it'd epic!


Posted 10 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Clifford

10 Months Ago

I'm glad you enjoyed the story. Thank you for reading.
Hyacinth

10 Months Ago

No problem, I just call it like I see it :)
This was definitely a story for the Halloween season. I loved how you gave us an explanation of who the intruder was at the end. Too often in scary stories it's simply some faceless man who is inherently evil. As someone who writes crime fiction, it's no fun to have bad characters that are simply a boogeyman archetype. The line that he was living in the ceiling of the basement really resonated with me, and gave this some added depth. Bravo!

Posted 11 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Clifford

11 Months Ago

I absolutely agree with you about the "boogeyman archetype". I get no entertainment from faceless ev.. read more
Sorry it took a while to get to this. This is a very good story for the Halloween season. I thought at first the intruder was a real ghost. Using Jakey as your protagonist was a good idea, gives us the view point of a much frightened child, and most of us remember the 'monsters under the bed'. Good write

Posted 11 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Clifford

11 Months Ago

Thanks, Ted. Good to hear the POV was effective.
I like the use of descriptive words- really helps draw me into the story.And for going out of your comfort zone, this is a really good start. Very spooky. But I do agree, very anti-climatic ending. For a realistic story, it's perfect. It sounds like journal article turned into a story. Typically with scary stories, the police are for whatever reason unavailable to save the day and the ending is a "by the teeth" conclusion. Either very ominously does the villian win or very narrowly, the hero wins. If you want a really scary story, you could leave it ambiguously. Possibly ending it where Jakey discovers his parents are both asleep in bed. Maybe he also saw a second assailant he took for his mother and interacted with her quite a bit before the discovery. Or maybe after seeing his parents, he runs back to his sisters room, etc. etc. but they never find who took Lily or maybe they do (in a less than ideal condition) but never find the assailant. OR Jakey's parents never wake up leaving him alone to fight the assailant. Or hide from him while he kills the rest of the family.
Scary stories typically leave you with a bone chill afterwards, questions still unanswered. So reassuring the reader with all the answers afterwards like "they found the baby alive and well with the bad guy and he's gone now and everything's all good now" aren't especially campfire worthy.

Just a few mechanical suggestions as well: In that first paragraph, perhaps instead of darkness "shrinking" around his bed, it would expand and engulf. That would make more sense. And instead of "He painfully swallowed a few times."- "Painfully, he swallowed a few times."
"She went back to him and held him even tightly." - "She returned to hold him even tighter"

Other than that, I think you had a really strong start and a great opening into a real thriller. Just leave us thrilled in the end. Endings are everything in a scary story.

Posted 11 Months Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Clifford

11 Months Ago

This story really isn't meant to be a campfire story. It was never my intention to have a super thri.. read more
DB Heinemann

11 Months Ago

Ah, I see. When I think darkness as shrinking, I think it's more going away than coming back. But ot.. read more
Nice storytelling! I like the way you start out with the family scene, well described so I imagined the way the little boy must've felt, as well as the basic feelings of affection & bondedness thru-out the family. I like the details of the house & sounds & light & darkness, etc. All well crafted to add to the suspense. I think the pacing was great, as the suspense built. My least favorite part was the ending when the missing baby was explained . . . this part felt a little disconnected from your overall storytelling . . . more like an author's note than an integral part of the story. But I totally understand your motivation, not wanting this to become a longer piece as you showed the baby being found, etc. . . . so you wrapped it up by explaining more than showing. It all works. I like it when a great storyteller (you) writes in an unfamiliar genre, becuz then it doesn't have all the predictable clichés . . . your story is unique & has a more gentle & familial feeling than the usual terror pieces.

Posted 11 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Clifford

11 Months Ago

I agree with you about the ending, about it feeling like an author's note and all that, but you hit .. read more
Amazing piece of art, loved it! The descriptive writing was amazing, you painted a clear picture of the events in my mind. I connected with the protagonist, i could feel his emotions. The mystery was intriguing it kept me guessing and wondering trying to predict what's next (got it all-wrong.) Your work is interesting and unpredictable; readers love such type of writing it keeps them captivated.

Posted 11 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Clifford

11 Months Ago

Thank you very much, Nanjie. Glad you enjoyed.
Very creepy. The child's point of view interesting.

I have a writing suggestion. The paragraph that begins 'Goosebumps....'. The writing gets repetitive to me. He did this and this... Perhaps reorganizing some sentences could increase the urgency?

Posted 11 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Clifford

11 Months Ago

I see what you mean with that. I'm mentally drained and not up for much right now, but I did make a .. read more
Shannon

11 Months Ago

You have produced a lot of work lately. Some of it with intense subject matter and/or outside your .. read more
Clifford

11 Months Ago

Wise words. Best not to push things too far too quickly.
Spooks! Well done Clifford. This is a great (scary) Halloween write. I wonder if there are any genres that you can't pull off with aplomb! All your writes have been well written and hold my attention. I liked that way that this scary story has a relatively happy ending but you leave us with a big scary "what if"! Thanks for sharing! :)

Posted 11 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Clifford

11 Months Ago

You flatter me with your review. I'm glad you enjoy my writing, and I'm glad the "what if" was impac.. read more
Tres creepy!
I've actually heard of a real life case of someone living underneath someone's porch.

Posted 11 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Clifford

11 Months Ago

Yes, it's crazy what some people do. This very story was based on a true event. Thanks for stopping .. read more

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Added on October 31, 2016
Last Updated on May 20, 2017

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