Friday, October 11, 2013


The prelude to the extraordinary is always a whisper and not a roar. A drop of water battering against paper, the ensuing silence warns us not to venture forth, but society demands that our daily schedule not be interrupted. The result? We can’t stay home and hide. 

It is within this narrow definition that the most frightening experience of my life occurred. The year was 1999. I was working at a cushy job at a prominent consulting firm. I worked the second shift, from 4 to 11PM, so my days were free to do with as I wished. 

This particular day, I elected to surf the web. I don’t know why I chose to look up grisly murders. I would guess it had to do with stoking my imagination for a story I was about to write. I often like to set an atmosphere, and the mood was convincingly struck by one particular news item that caught my eye. 

The crime happened in my city—New York City to be exact. A young man had murdered his girlfriend, hacking her to pieces and eating parts of her body over the course of several days. It was post-Dahmer, but in my humble opinion, you can’t have too few cannibals running around. You just can’t. 

The man who committed the heinous homicide was apprehended and locked behind bars, but still, the story stuck to me like cobwebs on eyelashes. His girlfriend had been a dancer, and I suppose I identified a bit with that. I’m a lifelong fan of dance and felt sad about an aspiring ballerina’s life cut short by the swipe of a blade. Yes, she’d died from decapitation. Her head was found in the fridge, but there was no information on whether it was next on his menu or kept around for company.   

There was no motive found for the attack. Nothing had set him off. There was only a veiled reference to the young man being involved in the occult. Neighbors in the apartment complex had complained about him practicing strange rituals at night. That cobweb was now covering my eyes. 

While the entire case was eerie, what was most peculiar was the date of the murder—April 30th. The date struck a bell. Especially because of the allegations that the killer was into black magic. Being a horror writer, I’ve delved into the esoteric, and in the back of my mind, I began wondering what part Walpurgisnacht played in the bloody rampage. 

Opposite Halloween on the calendar, Walpurgishnacht is a sacred holiday. While not every person or group celebrates it in the same way, amongst a small faction, the occasion calls for a blood sacrifice. While the murder was committed several years ago a shudder ran up my spine. I wasn’t sure what connection this crime had to do with the present day, but a glance at my calendar confirmed the date as being April 30th, 1999. 

A hush fell blanketing my apartment against external noise. The raindrop mentioned earlier drummed against a pane of glass, but the window no longer served its original purpose. Instead, the transparent membrane was a fragile boundary that demarcated sanity from hell. The teardrop burst apart upon impact, trickling wasted dreams. 

A feeling of dread cloaked me. Every fiber in my being urged me to stay home, but I adhered to my schedule. So when 3:30 came, I left for work, arriving on time. 
The seven hours flew by. I was happy about that. The sooner they were over, the sooner I’d get through this day. At 11 PM, my shift was done. I went downstairs and got into the car that was hired by the company to ensure I got home in one piece. I snuggled in the backseat, certain that I was safe and secure.

Before we reached our destination, I asked the driver to let me off on the corner instead of taking me to my doorstep. I had run out of bottled water and wanted to pick up a gallon. I wasn’t worried about the hour. New York is the city that never sleeps and the saying holds true for the nightlife on Second Avenue. In my neighborhood, the street is lined with taverns and bars that stay open until the wee hours of the morning. At 11 PM, the party was only getting started. It was in this festive, well-lit arena that I was dropped off. 

I scooted into the store, making my purchase. I hugged the jug of water to me as I turned onto my street. I lived between First and Second Avenues, and while Second Avenue was bustling with activity, First Avenue was more sedate. On this night, my street was quiet also. Usually there were neighbors taking strolls, returning from dates, and taking Fido for a walk, but not on this night. Like I said, it’s sometimes the silence that gets to you. It’s the silence that lets you know something is very wrong. 

I hurried down the right hand side of my street, scanning the length of sidewalk for signs of life. My eyes skipped over the road that separated the two cement walkways. I was delighted to see a young man walking towards me, on the left hand side of my block. 

He was the antithesis of what we’re taught is menacing. His fair hair short and well-groomed, his cheeks had a pinch of color to them. Well-dressed in a white shirt striped with blue, a navy windbreaker and expensive pair of khakis completed his collegiate attire. If he had been strolling any Ivy League campus in the country, no one would have batted an eye.  But he wasn’t strolling a campus, he was walking on the left hand side of the street where I lived. Further, his presence was disturbing me. 

The comfort I felt in first seeing him vanished, but I didn’t know why. Call it intuition, a premonition,  a foreboding, I was struck with fear. I don’t know how many of you have experienced fear, but it’s a cold thing. Reptilian and bloodless, it causes your blood to freeze and your brain to spin as if caught in a ice crusher. That’s what happened to mine. 

We’d both advanced several steps. I was one-fourth the way down the block, rushing towards my apartment building that was located in the middle of the block. He was one-third of the way down the other side, but not in any hurry at all. His friendly face wore a smile. It lulled me into doubting myself and my conviction to stay away from this pleasant-looking stranger. 

While I tried to remain in that comfort zone, my mind did an analytical assessment. It had figured out that in a few more seconds, I’d pass him. When that happened, he’d be closer to Second Avenue. It meant I would be cut off from the busy area if I tried to run for help. I would only have First Avenue to sprint towards and it was a long way away. Plus the usually heavy traffic that pulsed up and down the thoroughfare wasn’t happening this night. There hadn’t been a single car passing by, or at least none that I could see. Add to that the fact that most of the businesses on First Ave. shut down by this hour, and it didn’t seem a good choice to summon help. 

I attempted to purge this whole line of reasoning from my thoughts. I mean, why would I have to run anywhere? This was a college kid. Probably taking time away from studies to enjoy a Friday night,, he most likely was headed to one of the clubs to find female companionship or throw back a few. Besides, I had an entire street separating him from me. In the time it took for me to come up with that scenario, we were even closer in proximity. 

I tussled with whether I should turn around and go back to Second Avenue. I’d had the urge to do just that ever since I laid eyes on him. However, I didn’t act upon the impulse. Instead, I just clutched the plastic water container more tightly and kept on going. 

The idea of my passing him circuited my brain one more time. I wasn’t sure why I should be afraid when that inevitability occurred, but my confusion was kicked up into high gear by a voice. 

“Do not walk past him”  it said.  

The male voice was not audible and yet a man had whispered that phrase into my right ear. I had no doubt of it. An image of a tall, stately older man wearing a long robe filled my head. It was this man—the one I had pictured in my head—that was communicating. 

The gentleman’s voice was calm—reeassuring in reading my thoughts and offering advice. Wonderfully mellow, it was the kind of tone you would use with a friend. I slowed down a moment. I was only four buildings away from home. The young blonde man on the other side of the street was kitty-corner to me. He bent down to tie his sneaker. 

He was wearing sneakers. This fact drove home that he was a kid. A kid from college. I ignored the voice. After all, I was now only two buildings away from my residence. All I had to do is scoot up those stairs and use the key already in my hand. How could anything bad happen? 


This time the voice was authoritative and demanding. It was not a request; it was an order. I obeyed. I would not dismiss  this paternal figure who was trying to help.
Although I was still convinced that the young man wasn’t a threat, I acquiesced to higher wisdom. Compelled to listen, I would not turn my back on this elder twice. I whirled around, walking briskly towards Second Avenue. 

I should explain that I am a notoriously fast walker—even when out for a leisurely stroll. When I increase the speed of my stride, very few people can keep up with me without breaking into a trot. It was this fast pace that I used to hightail it up the street. 

I kept my legs rhythmically pumping. I had almost reached the tavern on the corner. The bar had a restaurant in the back, and that cafe was sided with windows for diners to look out. The glass assured that I would be seen in case of trouble, but there wouldn’t be any. I was only scared and imagining things and listening to a voice that everyone would tell me was never really there. 

I was inches away from the first pane of glass. I stopped, pivoting around quickly. It was an instinctive move. I hadn’t heard a sound, but didn’t I say it was silence you needed to fear? This axiom was proven correct. 

When I turned, I looked straight into this young man’s face. He’d crossed the street and was in the midst of running up behind me. Because he wore sneakers, I’d never even heard him. When he met my eye, he stopped dead in his tracks, beginning to laugh. A horrible smirk breaking out like an infectious disease, his face was no longer pleasant. There was evil in this young man’s blue-blue eyes. 

Something silver snapped shut in his hand. I recognized the object as a knife. Perhaps it was like the one that sliced the head off that dancer. I’ll never know. With the switchblade closed, he rammed it into his jacket pocket. I took one more step and could now be seen through the windows. The diners all there, a sense of relief rushed through me. Then there were the pedestrians in the crosswalk. I was visible to them also. There were too many around to continue an attack. The young man was resigned to this reality. He hurried past, mumbling something about, “how a lamb had gotten away.” 

He merged into the jumble of pedestrians out to christen the start of another weekend. By outward appearances, he looked like he belonged in their midst, but he didn’t. He was a sociopath who didn’t belong anywhere but in jail. There was no longer doubt in my mind about that. More pieces fell into place. He hadn’t been tying his shoe. He had reached down to retrieve his knife tucked away in his shoe … or under his sock. 

I thought about calling the police, but about what? No crime had been committed. Yes, he had that knife, but he wouldn’t have it if he saw a squad car. 

By that point, he’d disappeared. Gone off to wreak havoc in somebody else’s life. I felt sorry for the people that would be forced to interact with him. I hoped they saw through what he presented, to what he was at his wicked, rotted core. 

With him gone, the atmosphere changed. Friendly and inviting, there was no longer anything to fear. I resumed my journey home, arriving safely thanks to a mysterious presence that I couldn’t see. 

The paranormal? I don’t know what I believe, but I’m certain something exists. What it is? I couldn’t say. To fathom its depths, one would have to be as extraordinary as those who inhabit that rarefied air. All I can say is that there is another realm. One where beings care deeply about what happens to a little lamb. 

Wendy Potocki lives and writes in NYC. If that isn't scary enough, she writes in the genre of horror. She feels creating good horror is an art form. She religiously devotes herself to pursuing it over hill and dale -- and in the crevices of her keyboard.

Named one of the Top Ten "New" Horror Authors by Horror Novel Reviews, she has six self-published novels. Book trailers for many of her works may be found on her official website Her next planned projects are Thrill, The Witch's Stone, The Virgin, and ZaSo, a Gothic tale of horror. Please subscribe to her mailing list for updates and giveaway information.

In her spare time, she loves to go for long walks, drink Starbucks Apple Chai Lattes, make devotional offerings to her cat named Persephone, and be stilled by the grace, beauty and magic of ballet.



======= GIVEAWAY CLOSED! ALL COPIES WON!!! ============

Today's giveaway is my class horror chiller-diller THE MAN WITH THE BLUE HAT. A bedtime story designed to evoke nightmares, there will be THREE ECOPIES given away. 

Just go to the Official Facebook HALLOWEENPALOOZA Event Page and comment "I WANT TO WIN" in the post announcing today's blog post and giveaway. If you're one of the first three, you win! Here's the link:

Good luck! 



Beth’s life is perfect, but then Beth has constructed it to be that way. She never steps outside the boundaries and never colors outside the lines, but something happens to crumble it all away. Something in the middle of the night – something no one can remember. Something that brings on a spate of insomnia that affects the entire community. When Sadie, the town drunk, accuses Beth of being the cause, Beth reacts in shock and fervent denial, but Sadie is insistent. She’s certain that an evil Beth committed is the cause of bringing ruin and calamity to their fair city. Beth knows it’s all untrue, but as the sleepless nights continue, the paranoia grows. Soon a chorus of voices are added to Sadie’s – even her best friend’s. Beth fights against the tide rising against her, but her adamant defense begins to falter when a strange man knocks on her door. He delivers an ominous message to her daughter, Kirsten. It strikes at the heart of the mystery as to what is happening in Breckenridge, and portends a horrific fate that awaits them all.

The Man with the Blue Hat is classic horror. It’s a chilling, page-turner … a bedtime story designed to evoke nightmares. It’s scary good.


  1. Wow! What a story! What a terrifying close call! Glad you're OK.

    1. Kathryn -

      Thanks for reading. Yes, at the time it was mind numbing, but when I think back, I feel the incredible sense of peace I felt at the end of the evening!

  2. Yikes!!! I always listen what I was always told, "that still small voice". Subconscious, angels, whatever it is, I listen to it. I'm so glad you did too. Too often people, women especially are concerned with offending someone by walking the other way. Too many women have been abducted right outside a Wal-Mart or their house, when if they'd just realized that the man is too close to your car, and they should run. Goosebumps! Great, but scary story. Hope he didn't find another lamb that night. :(

    1. Carmen -

      Too true! Always listen!

      Yes, I hope he wet lamb-less. So strange.