I was inspired by This American Life’s Halloween episode And the Call was Coming from the Basement, a show that featured all “scary but true” stories, to write about a scary true story that happened to me. This is a story about being home alone with my siblings when I was maybe around 12 years old. My sister was around 14 and my brother, 10. At least, this is how I remember it.
My parents were off at some function for our school, probably an auction. They didn’t go out that much without us, and when they did, it was probably for a school event or an anniversary. This was one of the first times that we were left home alone. My sister was old enough to “take care of us” without a babysitter around. I think she even got paid to do it.
I grew up in a wooded neighborhood with winding, hilly streets. It was the type of area where everyone tends to leave their doors unlocked most of the time.
Although she was hired to take care of us, I wouldn’t say “caring” is necessarily the first word I would use to describe my sister. We must have been off doing our own things, as we normally were. My sister was probably reading, and I might have been shooting the ball around in the basement, with my brother on the computer.
After a while it had gotten much darker outside, and, for whatever reason, we all happened to be in the kitchen on the ground floor of the house when we heard…the doorbell ring.
We gave each other a look that said “Who the hell is that? No one is supposed to be here except for us.” And so we sat quietly for a moment.
Our voices shrunk down to whispers. “What should we do?” I said.
“We should ignore them and they’ll leave,” my sister said. “It’s probably just some solicitor or something.”
“At night?” I said. “That doesn’t make sense.”
“I’m sure they’ll go away. Don’t worry about it.”
The doorbell rang again.
“I donno,” I said. “It seems like they know we’re here.” In fact, that was quite obviously true. All of the lights in the house were turned on and we had huge windows in the kitchen, the living room, and the family room. And, you could see clearly into the house from the front door, which was right around the corner from the kitchen, where we were sitting.
The person at the door was not going away.
We all looked at each other again, thinking of what to do.
“Let’s just wait. I swear they’ll go away if we just sit tight,” my sister reassured us.
We sat there for several breathless moments.
“Okay,” my sister said. “I think they’re – “
Loud knocks resounded off the door and kickstarted our adrenaline. Who could it be? There was no logical explanation for what was happening. Why would someone refuse to go away? What did they want?
We were stunned into silence and sat there, unmoving.
Then, phone rang.
We crouched down behind the island in our kitchen. “What do we do now?” said my brother, as the phone continued to ring.
“I should just go peek and see who it is,” I said. “I’m sure it’s not a huge deal.”
“No, let’s turn the lights off first,” said my sister. “You go turn off the ones by the stairs. I’ll get the rest.” She scurried along the ground to the light switches around the kitchen.
The way it was laid out, I could make my way around the back of the house without being seen from the front door. Along the way, I looked out a small window to see a big, dark SUV in the driveway. It wasn’t a car I recognized.
The view looking inside our front door would have been the stairs straight ahead, a doorway to the left and a doorway to the right. The right was where I was standing, so that I couldn’t be seen. With my hand on the light switch: the one for the front hallway, the last lights that were on in the entire house.
My sister appeared across from me in the dark kitchen doorway, crouched down. I flipped the switch and the entire house was in darkness.
Silence and darkness.
“HELLO?!” came a booming, masculine voice from behind the front door. “I know you’re in there.”
My heart began beating out of my chest. Well, that was dumb. Now they know someone is home. I whispered across the doorway to my sister, “I’m going to look.”
“No!” she said. “He’ll see you!”
I peeked my eye around the corner. The front hallway slowly came into view in the new darkness. The front door was there. And in the window in the door, I saw the outline of a tall man. Standing, waiting.
But that wasn’t what worried me. The doorknob: it was unlocked.
I moved back around the corner and looked at my sister. “The door is unlocked,” I said. “You idiot.”
I could see the fear come out in her eyes.
“Open the door!” The man shouted.
“I have to go lock it,” I whispered.
“What if he has a gun?” She whispered back.
“I have to lock it.”
I slid my eye around the corner one more time. Surprisingly, this time, the figure was gone. I could hear faint footsteps disappearing. I rushed over to the small window. I thought I could still make out the outline of the car in the growing darkness. But, the man wasn’t leaving. There were no car doors opening or closing. In fact, he wasn’t near the car at all.
Where he was, was in the kitchen window. I could now see the outline behind my sister. The phone began to ring again.
This was my chance. I ran over to the front door, locked and dead bolted it, then bolted over to my brother and sister in the kitchen. “We’re going into the basement!”
We ran into the basement, locked that door too, and that’s where we stayed for the rest of the night. Scared, as we heard knocking and banging on the front door and the doorbell and telephone rings slowly subside after what seemed like forever.
When our parents returned home, we frantically told them what had happened.
After our long, panicked story, my mom went, “Oh, that was Connie.”
Connie was a long-time friend of our mom’s who had a very low voice that, as you can see, could easily be mistaken for a man’s. She was also extremely tall and wore her hair back, making her look a heck of a lot more masculine in the form of a shadow in the night.
“Yeah, she called me on my cell and said she was just dropping something off for me at the house. She said you guys were home but wouldn’t answer the door. She said you were acting silly.”
“What?!” I said.
“Yeah! It wasn’t a big deal. You guys should have let her in!”
“Why wouldn’t she say who she was at the door? Or leave a message on the machine? Why did she have to be creepy as hell about it?!”
“Come on, you guys know Connie! that’s just how she is!”
So, I guess that sometimes the things you’re the most scared of really aren’t scary at all. They seem that way because you don’t know what they are. The scary man wasn’t even a man at all! It was Connie. Connie isn’t scary. She’s a figure skating mom with poor telephone skills.
It makes me think about the scariness of my future in stand up comedy. It’s easy to worry about what’s out there, because I just don’t know. That’s the only scary part about it. I don’t know where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing in ten years. But, I’m pretty sure that way way down the road when I look back, the scariness will be gone and everything will just look like a Connie.