Scary Story: Fire Escape Fright Night

One summer some time ago, I sublet a one-room apartment in a very sketchy part of New York. (Even the rats traveled in pairs.) Four flights up and without air conditioning, the only relief from the brutal summer heat was a small fan next to a massive window that led to a rusted fire escape. To prevent spontaneous combustion, I always slept with the window open.

I have never enjoyed scary movies. But two close friends came into town and dared me to join them at a special midnight showing of Stephen King’s “The Shining.” Big mistake.

The film left me so scared, I literally lost the power of speech. Shaken to my core, I arrived back at my apartment at 3 AM, double locked the door, put a chest of drawers against it and climbed into bed with some foolish notion I would fall asleep.

An hour later, my mind still raced with images of a crazed Jack Nicholson, pickax in hand, screaming, “Here’s Johnny!”

From the open window, I suddenly heard what sounded like chains being rattled. Moments later, added to the chains were the heaving grunts of a man - like Marley’s Ghost with asthma. Only now there were heavy footsteps accompanying the grunts and chains. A Murderer was on the fire escape!

Frozen in my bed, I knew my life was at its end. Without warning, a massive hand appeared outside my window. It reached for the railing of the fire escape. The hand morphed into the hulking shadow of the Murderer. The grunting became louder with each step. The Murderer stopped at my window. My telltale heart was racing and I was so scared, I could not scream if I wanted to.

This was the moment of truth. The Murderer was going to climb in the window with a massive pickaxe and decapitate me. I tried to not look, but fear overwhelmed me and my eyes would not close.

The monstrous shadow of the Murderer grunted one last time. I knew this was it. And then he raised his arms up and let out the loudest, most disgusting belch in mankind. “Bleechhhh!” 

Continuing his climb upward, he moaned, “I can’t believe that bitch locked me out again.” I heard him enter the apartment above me and with a thud, hit the floor like an anvil.

That night, I made a mental note to get some new friends.


Ken Ferber has more than 30 years of expertise in CEO and leadership branding, reputation management and strategic communications. He is one of the few persons to have successfully led such functions in the corporate, government and non-profit arenas, giving him a 360-degree view of all things that impact a person or company’s reputation. Ferber is the founder and CEO of Trueify, LLC, which helps professionals, identify their unique values-based personal brand. This past June, he traveled to Germany and Poland to visit death camps, and to study how Germany has been remaking its image as it relates to its role in the Holocaust. A New York native, Ferber is a graduate of The George Washington University in Washington, DC. He resides in Southern California – an easy drive from some terrific wineries.



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