Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Home Alone by Tamara Hogan


My imagination...
 Mark and I live out in the country, where the chances of anyone approaching our house - for any reason whatsoever, regardless of the time of day - are pretty much zero. Our driveway is hundreds of yards long. Even our closest neighbors call before coming over, and we do the same.  All that solitude...it's introvert heaven.

Usually. Because when Mark's gone for the weekend and I'm home alone...you know where my imagination goes. My hearing, always very acute, ratchets into overdrive. I hear every scratch or thump, inside and outside - especially when that thump occurs in the middle of the night.

There are a lot of animals, both wild and domesticated, on the loose in the area, and they don't particularly care that humans are trying to sleep. Coyotes howl at the moon in eerie harmony. Racoons ruckus and rumble as they cross the road. The deer play Chicken with cars on the county highway, rabbits hop the fence to nibble in the garden, and roaming barn cats yowl and mate. The next door neighbor's horses occasionally kick their stall walls well before the sun comes up, thinking it's time for breakfast, and her goat's neck bell clanks at all hours. Our own indoor cats have decided that 4:00 a.m. is "Fight Club" time, with Round One usually being fought on my legs. 

We are fortunate that we can primarily read the local Police Report for entertainment. That said...have you ever thought about what you'd do if someone broke into your house and you were home alone? How long it would take for the cops to show up, even if you could get to a phone and make a call? I have. Let's just say that I feel better having our next door neighbor, Pistol Packin' Patty, on speed dial.

So of course all this was going through my head when I heard a loud thump in the lower level of the house last month, when I was home alone. I knew I'd checked the doors and windows, and all were closed and locked. None of the outside motion lights had flipped on. I sat up tensely, turned on the bedroom light, put the phone in my lap, and then...I read. Yup, you read that right: I picked up our own Grace Burrowes' THE SOLDIER off my so-tall-it-tips TBR, and read. (Being small and weaponless, I wasn't about to go downstairs and actually, you know, check it out!)

...and the reality. Still scary.
Five minutes passed. Ten. Fifteen. And as I 99.9% suspected would be the case, I didn't hear the noise again. At the half hour point, the cats galloped upstairs from the basement. Maybe Fight Club had been relocated to the first level; who knows why cats do what they do? I relaxed, laughing at myself for having such a vivid, girly imagination, and kept reading until my alarm went off a couple of hours later, when it was time to drive to the coffeeshop and write.

When I opened the door leading to the attached garage, my jaw dropped. The garage door was yawning wide open, and had been all night long.

So much for those locked doors and windows.

If you're home alone and hear a bump in the night, are you more likely to wait it out, or check it out? Why?

Tamara Hogan’s debut urban fantasy romance, TASTE ME, was released earlier this year by Sourcebooks Casablanca. Underbelly Chronicles Book Two, CHASE ME, will be published in June, 2012.

25 comments:

  1. I have to check it out. My mind won't settle down until I do. I had a similar garage door incident a few months ago. Such a sinking feeling, isn't it?

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  2. Tracey, I KNOW!! When I opened the door leading to the garage the following morning, my breath just locked in my lungs. I spent about 5 minutes looking around for animal poop - maybe a racoon had decided to play? - but I didn't find anything.

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  3. I'm more likely to check it out on the just because.I'd rather be able to know it's safe than wait,imagining the worst (or experiencing it).

    I'm also going to point out that moments like this are why security experts suggest installing a solid door with secure locks between the house and the garage. Most houses have hollow doors with flimsy locks that are no match for the average burglar.

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  4. I can SO identify, Tamara!!

    550 foot driveway, surrounded by woods, can't see a neighbor...I don't even have a pistol packin' Patty. (Love that, by the way. LOL)

    I've never allowed guns in the house but recently a horrible home invasion happened in our state. Now there's a loaded shotgun where I can get to it.

    It's sad to think you have to be prepared for things like that. Usually all I hear are the owls in the night. But one should be prepared.

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  5. I sleep upstairs with a mastiff and a bullmastiff downstairs to preside over any fight clubs, intruders, and stray possums who wander into the house (the possum wandered right back out in a hurry, for a possum). I sleep well, most nights.

    And I will tell Devlin St. Just that he's kept another fascinating lady up well past her bed time. He'll be quite pleased to have stolen into your boudoir.

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  6. @Virginia, great points. We have one of those hollow doors you describe, and more often than not, prior to this event, we weren't too careful about locking it.

    We are now. And the door really should be replaced.

    @Ash, I hem and haw on the gun thing. Mark has a hunting rifle in the closet - not loaded, and being I don't know how to load it, it would do me no good. Maybe I should practice with Patty, who DOES pack, 24/7, and has a shooting range in her indoor riding arena.

    @Grace, OMG Devlin - and his brothers - are absolutely delicious, and very much worth the lost sleep! I can't wait for Val's story! And I don't have long to wait - November, right? What a gorgeous series.

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  7. Great blog, and so true. If I am alone, not only sounds are magnified, but my ability to hear even the tiniest of scratches. I live in a very wooded area, but do have neighbors nearby.

    I have picked up whatever is at hand to crack the intruder over the head: spikey high heel or one of my wooden clogs, a flashlight-you get the idea-and then I venture downstairs.

    I always feel better armed, since our daughter took her field hockey stick with her when she got married, I no longer have that option. LOL!

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  8. @Colleen, my tool of choice is a Maglite flashlight. ;-) And I have some kick-ass ankle boots that could definitely be used for self-protection in a pinch.

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  9. I too have cats and always assume the many noises that I hear are from them so when I do check things out it's just because I need to know if I have a mess that I have to clean up lol. I'm rarely home alone so maybe I would feel differently.

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  10. @catslady, you are a better cat mom than I am - or maybe I'm just a slob. I figure any messes can darned well wait until the morning, after I wake up!

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  11. Oh, I am a wait it out kind of girl. If it wants me, it has to come looking and then it will have to work real hard to get me. Why make it easy by going to find it?
    Amelia

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  12. @Amelia, we're on the same page. A) I'm not gonna make it easy for someone to attack me. They're gonna have to work to find me first. and B) Why should I get cold when very it's likely nothing? I take chilly tootsies very very seriously!

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  13. Check it out. I have a baby, so I can't leave anything to chance. Mama Bear!

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  14. @Shana, I agree, with children in the house, it's another matter entirely.

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  15. Tamara, I have to check it out or I can't sleep. We have a virtual arsenal in the closet but I don't really know how to shoot the guns, not since I gave my .38 Saturday Night Special to my son. My son who says I'm 90 percent bluff and only 10 percent mean but he's never been brave enough to test to see which I am that day. LOL! I got that gene from my Momma who would have faced down Lucifer if she thought he was going to harm one of her kids.

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  16. @Carolyn, with guns I fear I'd be 90% bluff too - which my brother in law, who's a county sheriff, says is pretty much akin to handing the intruder the weapon, inviting them to use it against you.

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  17. Good for you, @Brooklyn Ann! So glad you feel confident protecting yourself.

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  18. Last night I was up reading (I couldn't sleep) it was 3:30 and someone was walking around upstairs. It sounded like an elephant. I thought one of the kids had gotten up to go to the bathroom, but the stomping continued. I thought maybe one of them was sick, so up I went to check it out. There was my youngest, all dressed and ready for school. When I asked what she was doing up, she said "It's five-thirty, mom." Poor kid, she's dyslexic... I always got my 5s and 3s confused too. I told her what time it was and to go back to bed. LOL I guess that makes me one who checks things out.

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  19. Aw, @Robin, the poor little dear! I think one big factor in my "don't check" habit is that I don't have kids. It's just Mark, me and the cats.

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  20. you were lucky girl me i check out every thing being nosy as i am
    i have live with diffent ghost in the past and i now that living in the country you see a lot i had some ghost that used to argue and i go up stairs and tell them to shut up and be have

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  21. I usually will ignore it. I don't have a gun in the house, but I do know that the guy who lives a few houses down has one, so I do know where I'm running to if I need help.

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  22. @desi, do they listen to you? I've never seen a ghost that I'm aware of, but I have friends who swear that their houses are haunted.

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  23. @Linda, we're of the same mind. Unless I hear a window smash or a door get kicked in, I play the odds and figure it's those darned cats! Thankfully, I haven't been wrong yet.

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  24. Scary! I would have to check it out, but I like your idea better. A good book is always a good choice!

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