I grew up on a steady diet of Stephen King and horror movies. My mother, in her infinite wisdom, said all those terrible thing floating around in my head would come back and bite me on the ass (or something to that effect). As usual, I knew better… Until my mum moved to a separate house about 10 – 15mins walk away and I was left alone (aside from my step brother who I hardly spoke to and was never there). Oh boy did I regret all those scary movies and stories then. Sweet baby Jesus. That house could be super scary at night – creaky stairs, roaming dogs on loose rocks. Any sudden noise and I was convinced it was the end. And you’ve never seen darkness ’til you’ve lived in a rural area. There were no street lights nearby so, when it got dark, it got dark. None of that nice city light pollution to keep things from absolute devil’s asshole blackness.
Funny thing was, I was never scared of a human intruder (you know, something that can actually happen). Your garden variety thief, rapist or murderer didn’t rate on my scale of scary. For me, it was always the supernatural that frightened the crap out of me. Not vampires because they were sexy (I also liked Anne Rice, I think Lestat was my first love) but my memory could conjure up plenty of other evil night demons based on the pages and pages of horror stories I read over the years.
One of the scariest things I’ve ever read was a short story by Stephen King called The Road Virus Travels North. I must’ve been about 24 or 25 and it TERRIFIED me. I don’t even know why. When you think of the plot like a rational human being, it’s not all that scary.
In a nutshell:
- Man goes to garage sale
- Man buys drawing of monster driving car (first mistake: ignores warning about the scary history of the artist)
- Drawing changes as monster now drives to meet him, killing everyone he holds dear along the way (including his poor old grandmother – wtf!)
- Monster finds man
- Monster kills man.
See, when it’s laid out like that it, it’s not too terrifying. It’s just all the horrible details King adds and his wonderful/terrible way of telling it. This story struck a nerve with me, maybe because the dude knew he was going to die and could do nothing about it. Even with the passage of so many years, I’m still a bit worried when recounting this story. It still freaks me out even though the rational part of my brain knows it’s not real.
After that, I kind of swore off horror. I decided a grown woman shouldn’t put herself in a situation where she needs to sleep with the light on, like a fucking child. Time passed and I thought I was a grown up so I saw Paranormal Activity at the movies with my mum and sister. BIG MISTAKE. My nerves were shot afterwards and it didn’t help that mum jumped out from around a corner and frightened the crap out of me as we were leaving the theatre. I went home and literally slept with the light on for a week. Every noise terrified me. I was often too scared to sleep – or even sleep facing away from the bedroom door – until Jared got home from work. It was that bad.
After that, he kind of put a ban on me. I couldn’t be trusted to act like a rational human being with a FAKE MOVIE about IMAGINARY and IMPOSSIBLE SHIT so I was not to watch these movies any more. Stephen King wasn’t writing any scary books so I was safe from temptation in that respect. Years went by. A few people asked me to see the various sequels for Paranormal Activity and I said, ‘Not a fucking chance in hell’. I even skip the station when the trailer comes on for a scary movie or TV series. I close my eyes and block my ears when it happens at the movies.
And then The Witch came out. The reviews were good. They said it was ‘different’ and ‘feminist’ so I was intrigued. We went to see it and I was fine (although I did close my eyes towards the end when it got a bit scary – Jared had to fill me in on what happened). ‘Maybe I’m cured,’ I thought. ‘Maybe I’m a big kid now.’ These were the optimistic thoughts floating round in my head when I decided to watch American Horror Story last weekend. After a few episodes of the first season (the one about the haunted/murder house), Jared exercised his right to veto, throwing in a ‘are you sure you should be watching this?’. I was pretty into the storyline but we found something else and all was well – except, in the back of my mind, I felt a little bit afraid. Just a little but enough to know I’d probably made a grave error.
And so it happened that, when I woke up this morning, it was the perfect storm for all my fears to come flooding back. Jared had already left for the day (I was alone, aside from the useless dogs) and the curtains were drawn in the dining room (so the apartment was nearly pitch black, with plenty of dark pockets for something to hide in). Usually, we leave the blinds open so the whole apartment is quite bright of a morning but not today. And, of course, my mind started whispering about the creature maybe/probably/definitely lurking by the couch – all sharp toothed and bloody mouthed – just waiting for me to make a noise/get out of bed so it can run in eat me/kill me then eat me/steal my soul/do whatever the fuck it is that monster do. Fuck fuck fuck! Fuck you American Horror Story and fuck me too for thinking I was adult enough to watch scary stuff again. God-fucking-dammit.
Let’s take a breath.
Obviously, I’m writing this now so there were no monsters, bloody mouthed or otherwise. Eventually I found the courage to scurry out and turn on all the lights before opening the curtains, all the while expecting something horrific to sink its teeth into my calf, ankle, neck, whatever. Nothing did. I survived. And now I’m thinking… maybe I can watch American Horror Story after all… I mean, I’m ok now, right?