Peter had come into the world with a terrible variety of physical imperfections, chief among them vital organs (including heart, liver, and spleen) that were too large for his little body. For months doctors feared he could die at any time. Somehow he managed to survive and at length his health, though still somewhat precarious, improved. He was on his way to starting a normal life when an evil, paranormal entity decided it wanted to kill him.
At 2:00 a.m. one night in the spring of 1969, Peter’s mother, Martha McDonald, was awakened by her son’s hysterical screams. When she rushed into his room, she felt a sharp, damp coldness which seemed to cut right through her. The air was strangely heavy, and Mrs. McDonald had the distinct, uneasy sensation that someone besides herself, Peter, and Peter’s older brother (still sleeping) was in the room??"someone she could not see.
As his mother held the shaking little boy, he told her that a "man" was standing in the room and staring at him. He had been awakened, he said, by the sound of scratching at his window. When he looked, he saw a form standing near him. He adamantly rejected his mother’s suggestion that he had imagined the presence. Actually, Mrs. McDonald wasn’t so sure herself that the intruder was purely imaginary, but she wasn’t about to let Peter know that. Nevertheless, hoping to make Peter feel better, she ordered the "man" to leave.
"Suddenly everything was normal again," she later wrote. "The atmosphere changed dramatically??"it was warm again."
Peter went back to sleep and all was quiet the rest of the night. Still uneasy about what had happened, the next morning Mrs. McDonald checked outside the window to see what could have caused the scratching Peter had reported. She couldn’t find anything, which did nothing to ease her fears. But she comforted herself with the thought that at least whatever had caused the strange incident was gone, and the incident was over. Still, she couldn’t get it out of her mind.
It was on her mind when she went to bed that night. And at 2:00 a.m., when she heard Peter’s terrified little voice calling her name, she expected the worst??"and she found it: the same inexplicable coldness, the same insistence on Peter’s part that an evil man was staring at him.
The scene repeated itself every night for the next few weeks. "Eventually," Mrs. McDonald recalled, "I became accustomed to that incredible, shocking coldness that met me at the doorway to Peter’s room. It was more than the chill one feels when frightened. It was almost like a force of hate."
One thing changed, though. Now the man was smiling, with a terrifying evil leer, as if he were waiting for something.
Please, I don’t want to go!
Mrs. McDonald could never see the man, but she sensed his eyes on her. She grew to loathe him. She felt he was laughing at her. Yet she had some strange power over him. When she would order him to leave, he would.
As the frightening visitations continued, Peter claimed he could see the man more clearly. He had, the boy said, "red hair and a mustache." An aura of arrogance, impatience, and growing anger emanated from him. He always stood in one corner, away from Peter’s brother, who strangely enough always slept through the episodes.
Now Peter was saying that the man had taken to waving his arms, as if beckoning to the boy to come away with him. Peter would shriek, "Please, Mama, I don’t want to go!"
Then the man began to speak to Peter, expressing explicitly and commandingly his desire to have the lad accompany him. His visitations were longer, and he was becoming harder and harder to get rid of.
One morning, after a particularly horrifying encounter, Mrs. McDonald was doing her daily chores while Peter played alone in his room. Suddenly the boy appeared. He had a peculiar lazy grin on his face. He approached his mother, threw his arms around her and said, "Oh, Mama, I love you." Then he seemed to stagger. Something was wrong. Peter was intoxicated!
As she followed him to his room, she passed the bathroom. Looking inside, she immediately saw what had happened. Her son had taken a chair, reached into the medicine cabinet and swallowed 36 aspirins. By the time Mrs. McDonald got Peter to the West Hudson Hospital in Kearny, New Jersey, his system had absorbed the pills, and it was no longer possible to pump them out of his stomach.
For two days Peter hovered between life and death. His situation was further imperiled by his already-weak heart. But his doctors worked vali-antly to save him. A few days later he came home, weak but very much alive.
At 2:00 a.m. that night the evil man returned. When his mother entered his room, feeling as usual the hideous, hate-filled coldness, Peter told her the man was no longer in the corner he had always occupied; now he was "on a horse" on the other side of the room, where Peter’s brother lay sleeping. The man’s face was twisted in anger, and he was shaking his fist. Then he jerked the reins, and he and the horse rode off!
"For the first time since it began," Mrs. McDonald wrote nine years later, "I felt as if, finally, it was over??"really over. The fear was gone. The cold was gone. I cradled Peter in my arms and told my little son that I ‘knew’ the man would never come back.
"So far he has not returned."