The Man Under The Lamppost

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When I was 13 years old, on the cusp of turning 14, I was home alone for the night. It was January of 2010 in rural Northwest Indiana. My mom was turning 40 and my dad took her to Chicago for the night to celebrate with a few friends while my brothers stayed at our grandparents house. I opted to stay home because I was at that age that I wanted to prove that I was responsible enough to care for myself. My parents grudgingly said yes but only so that I could take care of our two dogs, Luke and Charlotte, for the night.

They all left that afternoon but not until I was giving an extensive list of chores and reminders such as phone numbers and my grandparents address. In big, bold letters in the bottom right corner were the words “LOCK THE DOORS”.

I remember the excitement I felt after watching the car pull out of the driveway and eventually disappear over the horizon. Immediately after I ran into the house, locked the doors, and ran into the living room to watch TV with my dogs. A few hours went by and through the window I could see the sun setting over the field out front. I decided it would be a good time to walk the dogs out back. I leashed them both up and wandering into the back yard to let them relieve themselves. We walked out to the woods behind the house and I let them sniff things for a while. The sun was setting fast and I began to get chilly.

Both of my dogs had focused on a single spot and would not stop smelling that one area. I gently wanked on the leashes, causing both of their faces to dart up. I started walking back to the house but the dogs weren’t moving. I wanked a little harder but they still refused to budge. They were both fixated on the woods. Charlotte began to growl quietly which was out of character for her. Usually she’s afraid of anything bigger than her head but she suddenly seemed much more brave. Luke followed this behavior. The growling started to become snarling. They started both tugging on their leashes and barking rapidly. I was able to drag them back to the house on account of them being smaller dogs. It wasn’t uncommon to see deer in the area so I just assumed that they spotted one moving and wanted to go after it. I just brushed it off, went inside, and walked back into the living room. I took one last look outside the window and saw that the sun had disappeared and was just barely able to see snow falling onto the ground under a nearby lamppost.

About an hour passed and I hear my dogs barking at the window. It was in the same violent manner as before. I told them to shut up because I was trying to watch some cartoons I had recorded and couldn’t hear a thing over them barking. I reluctantly got off the couch to see whatever it was they were barking at. As I got to the window, they had both ran away from it. I scanned the front yard to see whatever they were looking at that made them so upset. I searched back and forth until I noticed something just outside the light from the lamppost. After about three seconds of looking at it, it moved to the side into the darkness.

I jumped backwards at the sight and sharply gasped. My dogs started to go wild again. Although I was scared, my curiosity got the best of me and I returned to the window and started to scan the yard again. My eyes left the lamppost, traveled down the stretch of road, and returned to a sight that made me scream. There was a man standing under the light, hands behind his back. His face and torso were covered by shadow but his body was outlined in light. He had short, dark grey hair, a black coat, jeans, and black boots. He was tall despite having his back hunched over, being definitely over six feet tall. I stood there for a second looking at the man, trying to understand the situation. The nearest house was almost a mile away and there was no car in sight. Before I could ponder where he came from any further, I had a gut-wrenching realization. He was looking back at me. I backed up but he started walking towards the house and walked out of the light. I quickly closed the blinds and grabbed both of my dogs along with a phone.

I ran to my bedroom, locking the door behind me and closed all of the blinds in there as well. I took the phone and dialed my grandparents number. No answer. I called my dad’s cell phone. No answer. It was then I started to hear banging at the front door. Not like knocking, but like someone was ramming their body into it. I frantically dialed 911 as my heart was throbbing in my chest. A woman’s voice answered by saying “911, what’s your emergency.” I told the woman that I was home alone and a man is trying to break into my house. After giving her my address, she told me that it would be five minutes before the police would arrive. The banging kept getting louder and louder until I heard metal clanging. I tried not to scream as I realized that was the sound of the doorknob hitting the ground. The doorknob had fallen off but the man was still banging at the door. It had not opened yet. I had to hold both of my dogs mouths shut to keep them from barking and giving away our position. It seemed hours before the banging finally stopped and was shortly followed by the faint sound of sirens. The police had almost arrived. It wasn’t long before I heard knocking at the door followed by a man announcing that he was an officer responding to a call.

I the officers in through the back door because the front door was busted and locked shut. The cops eventually got in contact with my parents and grandparents who rushed over as soon as hearing the news. The cops determined that the man had beaten on and around the doorknob with a hammer, leaving dents all over the door. Enough snow had gathered on the ground to show the footprints of the man running into the woods where they found a small shelter built with branches about 300 feet away from where I had walked the dogs earlier that day. There they found a knife and evidence of a set of footprints leading father back into the woods. Unfortunately the woods got thick enough where no snow had reached the ground and the footprints disappeared. They never caught the man as the police force was mostly busy trying to find the honeybee killer that was at large at the time in the area. We moved out of that house two years later and never received any updates from the police since.

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