Have you ever had that moment when you are actually paralyzed by fear? Your body becomes so weak that you couldn't move? My moment came when I was ten years old and it was real. I saw a monster. A real monster. Here's my story...

Mom, Dad and I lived in a little village in Eastern Kentucky that had a post office, two little country stores, a couple dozen families and a grades 1 to 12 county school where my father taught. All buildings were along the road between the mountains except for the old Enterprise Teachers Academy that sat on a small hill overlooking the little village. The old academy dated from the 1800's and was torn down soon after we moved there.

The house we rented sat at the bottom of the little hill. It was a big house that had belonged to the Academy, and all the items salvaged from the school's destruction were stored in the upper level of our house. My father and I both enjoyed old things so we spent an afternoon rummaging through the upstairs filled with old trunks, books, schoolmaster's cloaks, canes, old clothing and many years of dust.

I particularly remember an old US map that did not yet have 48 states. There were a couple of boxes blocking a door that led to another closet that we didn't look in. After a couple of days I decided to go back up alone and explore that closed room. I was a big kid for age 10, and it didn't take long to move the boxes and open the closet door.

It was late in the afternoon and there was no electricity in the upstairs and no window in the closet, just a dim light from the main room's one window. This made it very dark in the closet, but I could see a lone trunk against the back wall. I stepped through the opening and leaned down to open the trunk but I sensed a presence behind me in the small room.

Fear started to creep up the back of my neck. I thought maybe I was just reacting to all the old radio shows and movies about kids and monsters in dark places so I slowly turned around to prove there was nothing to fear, but -- it was real!  I could see it in the small amount of light.  It was above my head and blocking the exit. I could see two red eyes about seven feet up with two giant arms raised above its head ending in bony claws. There were other protrusions from its surface that looked like lobster claws.

Suddenly I could smell the creature! It was an old smell like a dead animal.

the monster I saw in the closet
Big Bill Love "A Rendering of the Closet Monster"

I couldn't move or yell out. I was completely paralyzed. I don't know how long I stood there. It may have been a few seconds or many minutes. I remember being able to hear my heartbeat. I could hear clear sounds from outside the house.  A dog barking.  A squirrel scampered across the roof. It was as if I was another person watching me  getting ready to die.

Time passed and nothing happened. The thing didn't move toward me. It didn't disappear. It just waited. After a while I realized I could still see a little light where the creature's body should be. Maybe it was a ghost. Maybe I could get through it.

With nothing to lose I ducked and found enough strength to push the few feet out of the little cubicle. I made it. I had run right through the thing. I was outside but still in the attic. All my energy returned and I scrambled down the steps to freedom.

My Mom and Dad were in the garden and I ran to them, terrified with my monster story. My father, who was skeptical about ghosts, went upstairs to check and came back to get me to reluctantly follow him upstairs where he showed me the "monster" hanging on the inside of the closet door.


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