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Excerpt: 'The Amityville Horror'

December 19 to 21, 1975

George sat up in bed, wide awake. He had heard a knock on his front door.

He looked around in darkness. For a moment, he didn't know where he was, but then it came to him. He was in the master bedroom of his new home. Kathy was there, beside him, hunched down under the warm covers.

The knock came again. "Jesus, who's that?" he muttered.

George reached for his wristwatch on the night table. It was 3:15 in the morning! Again a loud rapping. Only this time, it didn't sound as if it was coming from downstairs, more from somewhere off to his left.

George got out of bed, padded across the cold, uncarpeted floor of the hallway and into the sewing room that faced the Amityville River in the back. He looked out the window into the darkness. He heard another knock. George strained his eyes to see.

"Where the hell's Harry?"

From somewhere over his head came a sharp crack. Instinctively he ducked, then looked up at the ceiling. He heard a low squeak. The boys, Danny and Chris, were on the floor above him. One of them must have pushed a toy off his bed in his sleep.

Barefoot and wearing only his pajama pants, George was shivering now. He looked back out the window. There! Something was moving, down by the boathouse. He quickly lifted the window, and the freezing air hit him at fill blast. "Hey! Who's out there?" Then Harry barked and moved. George, his eyes adjusting to the darkness, saw the dog spring to his feet. The shadow was close to Harry.

"Harry! Go get him!" Another rap sounded from the direction of the boathouse, and Harry spun around at the noise. He began running back and forth in his compound, barking furiously now, the lead holding him back.

George slammed the window shut, and ran back to his bedroom. Kathy had awoken. "What's the matter?" She turned on the lamp on her night table as George fumbled into his pants. "George?" Kathy saw his bearded face look up.

"It's all right, honey. I just want to take a look around back. Harry's onto something near the boathouse. Probably a cat. I'd better quiet him down before he wakes the whole neighborhood." He slid into his loafers and was heading for his old navy blue Marine parka lying on a chair. "I'll be right up. Go back to sleep."

Kathy turned off the light. "Okay. Put your jacket on." The next morning she wouldn't remember having awakened at all.

When George came out of the kitchen door, Harry was still barking at the moving shadow. There was a length of two-by-four lumber lying against the swimming pool fence. George grabbed it and ran toward the boathouse. Then he saw the shadow move. His grip tightened on the heavy stick. Another loud rap.

"Damn!" George saw it was the door to the boathouse, open and swinging in the wind. "I thought I'd locked that before!"

Harry barked again.

"Oh, shut up Harry! Knock it off!"

A half hour later, George was back in bed, still wide awake. As an ex-Marine, not to many years out of service, he was fairly accustomed to emergency wake-up calls. It was taking him time to turn off his inner alarm system.

Excerpted from The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson. Copyright 1977 by Jay Anson, George Lee Lutz and Kathleen Lutz. Excerpted by permission of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved.

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Jay Anson