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The Spot Writers – “Monster in the House” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. October’s prompt: “write a story inspired by what’s outside your window.”

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama, is available from her locally or on Amazon.


MISTER WOLFE, the sequel, coming early 2020. Watch for it!


“Monster in the House” by Cathy MacKenzie

I lay in bed, not daring to move. That noise. What is it? Someone’s broken into the house is my first thought, but I’d have heard the beeps of the alarm system—wouldn’t I?

They’re at the front door. Outside—no, definitely inside. But how? Was I that sound asleep I didn’t hear the alarm? Didn’t Hubby hear it?

Hubby is beside me. Fast asleep. I can’t see him in the dark. I’m too afraid to open my eyes, but I’m positive it’s dark.

Quiet now—no, there it is. Definitely at the front door.

My heart thumps against my chest. I clutch Hubby’s arm. “Wake up,” I whisper. My fingers press into his flesh. “Someone’s here.”

“Wha—what’s wrong?” His voice is thick with sleep.

“Shush. Someone’s at the front door.”

“What? Who?”

“Shush,” I say again. “Shush.”


Nope. There it is again.

“At the front door. Someone’s here. They’ve broken in.”

“Someone’s in the house?”


Maybe it’s not the front door. But it’s somewhere close by. There! Again.

My eyes are open now, but it’s as if I’m blind. I point in the darkness. “Down the hall.”

The noise is down the hall, by the bathroom. Mere feet away.

“It’s an animal.” A squirrel?

“Go back to sleep,” Hubby says. “There’s nothing here.”

Three days ago, we moved into our new-to-us house. I’m not attuned yet to these different night sounds. What creatures might lurk in the dark? Or in a nook or cranny we haven’t yet discovered. The house could be haunted for all I know.

The intruder—or intruders—isn’t mice. I’m familiar with the soundless pitter of those rodents. This commotion is far from soundless.

But in the house?

Hubby sits. “Your imagination again.”

Last night, I heard an unmistakeable noise and woke him up. It could have been mice then as it was a weird sound in the walls. Turned out to be the furnace. The previous owners forgot to turn off one of the in-floor heat zones, so the furnace turned on occasionally at night.

He plops back to the bed.

“There!” I poke him in the side and sit, clutching the linens to my heaving chest. “Definitely down the hall.” The sound reminds me of an elderly person on crutches, with his bad leg dragging on the floor.

If Hubby doesn’t hear it this time, he needs to return to the doctor to get his ears unplugged.

“I don’t hear anything.”

“Shush, you always talk so loud.”

Silence except for my thumping heart that’s about to blast from my chest.

“There! You must hear it now.” The shuffling is louder. Must be an animal in the house. Hubby has a habit of leaving the garage door wide open to the elements. Maybe it’s a raccoon. A family of raccoons made their home in our attic a few years ago. Could a raccoon have snuck in?

“Hmmm… There is something.” He gets out of bed and sneaks down the hall. Turns on the hall light.


Where is he? Has the “monster” gotten him?

He’s been gone too long.

“Where are you?” My voice is too low for him to hear.

The light finally goes out.

“Nothing there,” he says, returning to bed.

I hear it again. The sounds are louder. Shuffling. Scratching. Hubby hears it, too; I can tell by the change in his breathing.

I shriek. “It’s outside. Behind my head.” Someone’s spying on us. That one-legged man?

Hubby peers out the window by our bed. “Probably a branch rubbing against the window.” He turns on the bedside light and looks out again.

The noise increases as if the creature—animal or human—is afraid of the light. Shuffling. Scratching. Screeching.

“Raccoon,” he says. “Raccoon in the compost bin.” He shuts off the light and comes back to bed.

“You can’t leave it,” I say.

“I’m not going out at three in the morning.”

The raccoon eventually calms down. Maybe it falls asleep. Maybe we do.


The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/


C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.



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The Spot Writers – “Back to Work” by Val Muller

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: a book keeps appearing out of the blue in the most unexpected and unusual places. Today’s tale comes to you from Val Muller, author of the spooky novel The Man with the Crystal Ankh.

Back to Work By Val Muller

From the moment her daughter just “had to have it” at the checkout line, Harrison Habbinger the Squirrel drove Marie crazy. It should be illegal for stores to have children’s items in the checkout section. Or any items, for that matter. The check-out line was always the worst part of grocery shopping with a toddler and a newborn.

But what is a mother to do? When there’s a fussy toddler and a cart full of items to be placed on the conveyor belt, the easiest thing is just to give in. And the toddler always knew just how to time things just right—messing with the cart items just to the point of causing an actual mess. It was like she knew her mommy would be frazzled enough to buy the small book. In the game of chicken, the toddler always won.

And it was what, $3.95? But it was a four-dollar mistake. Since its purchase, Harrison Habbinger the Squirrel kept popping up everywhere, even when Marie tried to hide it.

It wasn’t even a great story. It made its point with alliteration. Each page played with a letter. “Harrison Habbinger loved lemons, licking his lips for lavender lemonade…” The author had labored so much on making the alliteration happen that there was nothing interesting about the story. The toddler didn’t learn any new facts about squirrels, there were no insights, no characterization, no funny jokes put in there for parents. Some children’s books did all these things. They were—well, maybe not quite enjoyable to read, but at least they made an effort at it, eliciting a chuckle at some idiosyncrasy of the grown-up world.

But not Harrison Habbinger the Squirrel. Yet for some reason the toddler was obsessed with it. The book followed them everywhere. Even when she thought she put it back on the bookshelf, it would materialize in the pantry, under the TV next to the DVD player, in the passenger seat of the car…

One day, Marie received an email from her husband at work. He’d discovered the book stashed in his briefcase. He’d showed it to his co-workers, and the office had a good laugh at the stupidity of the book.

Every night, the toddler asked for it to be read once, twice, sometimes more. It was excruciating, and the worst part was that the alliteration made it impossible to tune out. It was laborious for a tired mom to read at the end of the day. As the newborn grew, his love of the language patterns only helped encourage the toddler’s obsession.

And it didn’t just stop at the book. The obsession with the squirrel transcended the pages.

The toddler often asked for stories in the car, always about the squirrel. Waiting in line. In the bathtub. At bedtime. Eating lunch. In the car. Everywhere, the toddler demanded a story about Habbinger.

It was getting harder to make up original stories about the squirrel that had very little personality. When trying to put the baby to bed, Marie cringed at the excited cheers downstairs shouting the fact that as soon as the baby fell asleep, Mommy would be free to read Harrison again.

And again.

And again.

When Mommy was stuck for hours at a time and a chair feeding the baby, she was held captive by a toddler and her book.

Marie tried to remind herself that she was only away from work for 12 weeks. The time would fly by quickly, the baby would get bigger, and the toddler would return to daycare as well. The time would fly by fast, even if the hours might seem long. But still: every time she saw that book, she shuttered.

Her seven-hundredth attempt to hide the book failed on the cusp of her return to work. She spent her last waking moments of maternity leave reading the squirrel book several times to the squealing delight of her daughter who seemed nowhere near ready to fall asleep for the night.

The first two days back to work were a sort of reorientation into the work world, with coworkers taking her out to lunch and her regaling people with stories of the birth and the first few weeks and the toddler’s reactions and all the cute baby pictures that leave out the less desirable moments of parenthood—the diaper blowouts and temper tantrums and the obsession with badly-written kids’ books.

But after those first two days of work, things got back into routine. Everyone focused back on their jobs, and Marie realized she had a lot of catching up to do. It was on that Dreadful Wednesday, hump day, dreary rainy blurry Wednesday, when she actually felt a bit tearful dropping the kids off at their daycare. She stared at her desk. Had she done it? Has she been one of those moms to squander her time off? Everyone told her to appreciate every little smile, every little diaper accident, every little change of clothes, every all-nighter, every annoying story, because those hands wouldn’t be little for much longer. They said it was way too easy to squander if you weren’t careful.

Had she squandered all that time?

She dug into her bag to try to find her lunch. She’d packed some Halloween candy, and chocolate always cheered her up. As she dug through her bag, something tattered and worn and colorful peeked out at her.

It was Harrison Habbinger the Squirrel. In all its glory. There in her work bag.

How had it got in there? She smiled and knew the answer. That little toddler of hers, as mischievous as she always seemed, always knew how to time things just right.


The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/


C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

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The Spot Writers – “Squirrel War” by RC Bonitz.

Welcome to the Spot Writers. The prompt for this month is to write a story including the words bird, roof, egg, war, and hay


Today’s contribution comes from RC Bonitz, author of A BLANKET FOR HER HEART. His latest book, DANGEROUS DECISIONS, has just been accepted for publication by REBEL INK PRESS.



 It started with the bird feeder. I loved to watch the nuthatches and finches cluster at the feeder, their wings flapping as they sought their chance to grab a bit of seed. Then the squirrels came, walking like acrobats on the tiny strand of wire that supported the feeder, scaring off my feathered friends.

I could fix that. I went out and bought a squirrel proof feeder at my local hardware store. Excited, I brought it home, filled it, hung it up, and hurried into my house, anxious to observe the success of my endeavor. A squirrel hung from the roof of the feeder stuffing himself with seed by the time he reached the window… Bloody hell.

I considered smearing egg or grease on that skinny wire, but that would have to be replaced quite often. I gave some thought to trapping and killing the squirrels, but was not that desperate. Yet.

Next I discovered my furry friends were pulling hay from my son’s bow and arrow target behind the garage. Why I could not fathom, but that’s what they were doing. That had an easy fix. I put the target in the garage. No squirrel could get in there as long as I kept the door closed.

Did I say door closed? How about the damper on my fireplace? We left that open one weekend when we went away. A harmless mental lapse no doubt, right? Wrong. A squirrel fell down the chimney and got into the house. He wanted out, oh yeah, did he ever.

We came home to find our visitor had chewed up vast chunks of the wood frame on every window in the house in his struggle to escape. Wonderful. The estimated cost for replacement windows and adjustments to the siding came to $15,000. And guess what our insurance company told us? Squirrels are rodents and insurance companies do not pay for damage that they cause. We had to shell out all those bucks ourselves. GRRR.

That was it, I’d had it. I set a trap and caught my first squirrel toot sweet. All I had to do was drown the blasted thing and catch another. Simple. No problem. Piece of cake, right? Except it might be a mother with little ones to feed. But I hated squirrels. Didn’t I? But…it was a living thing, just trying to survive. I could have driven it to someone else’s neighborhood and dumped it off there. Right, sic it on some poor unsuspecting soul I didn’t even know. I set it free.


The Spot Writers- our members.

RC Bonitz



Val Muller



Catherine A. MacKenzie


Deborah Marie Dera


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