Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What Are You Afraid Of?

Since this week is Halloween, I decided to ramble some of what actually frightens me.

As I mentioned before in my Weird New England post, scary stories have always been a large part of my life from a very young age. Part of it was also due to the fact that my brothers liked to try and scare me and tell me plots to the Stephen King novels or by telling local lore about a supposed haunted locale. I also lived in a house for a year that had a Historical Society plate on it saying it was built in 1717. The house had its creepiness about it as it did have a secret room and a secret passage. I had/have an overactive imagination so I always thought there were ghosts in that house.

I didn't always like this sort of thing, though. In fact, when I was about 6 or 7, I went through a phase in which everything scared me. But then, I grew out of it and began to actually read about what scared me to better understand it. When I understood it better, I found myself less afraid. It is also why I know a ridiculous amount about ghosts and ghostly folklore. I read everything I could about it. If ghosts are real or not, at least I knew what I was up against.

Pull off the sheet and run

That is advice I apply to non-supernatural/horror related problems today. If something scares you or worries you, do your research and suddenly it is not as overwhelming.

Even with that advice, there are still some paranormal things that scare the crap out of me. One of them is demons. I blame purely Unsolved Mysteries for this one although I do remember one of my brothers telling me the real story about the Exorcist and that scared me shitless. I don't think I ever saw the Exorcist because of that. Or maybe I did and just blocked it from my memory.

The theme song is now stuck in your head -- your welcome!

Anyways, Unsolved Mysteries. Back when I was little, my family only had one small TV and we all had to share it. I often lost out. My brothers and my mom loved Unsolved Mysteries and America's Most Wanted and with both the theme music alone scared me. Unsolved Mysteries -- while it mostly dealt with missing persons -- often went into the paranormal. There were a few episodes involving demonic possession. And there was one in which a demon haunted a playground that would bother the children who went there with nightmares. I remember that episode very clearly because I thought, "They're kids and I'm a kid!"

I asked my brothers about this and they told me a few stories. I think what terrified me the most about demons was demonic possession. Just the thought that something could invade my body and use it without my say seemed ultimately frightening. I don't like the idea of being under something else's control.

I started to look at demonic possession pictures but it frightened me so here's an exorcist cat instead

The thought of it still frightens me but it didn't stop me from reading more and more about it. And heck, the novel project I'm working on right now deals with demons and demonic possession. I did so much reading about it, I came up with a story idea about it. Still, give me a movie with a demonic possession storyline, I will have nightmares for weeks.

Whether demons are real or not, from all the reading I did, I must say I still learned a few lessons. For one, be careful who you invite in. That should go without saying. The second is, if something is trying to frighten you, don't draw attention to them. It gives them more power. I feel both those piece of advice work outside demonology.

There is another thing that also frightens me incredibly and is part of the reason why I really like Sci-Fi Horror because it will guarantee to scare the living daylights out of me. I think part of the reason why Sci-Fi Horror frightens me so much is simply because space itself is so vast and apparently empty. There is so much we don't know and what is out there must be so alien, we couldn't even begin to understand. You know how I said the less we know about something, the scarier it seems to be? Yeah, Sci-Fi Horror uses this trope and bounces off the fact that civilization is so far away that there is no place safe to run to, leaving you completely vulnerable.

With all those galaxies, there is bound to be dickish aliens

That is terrifying for me because I am a very planned, rational person who needs to know what the plan is. I need to know what I'm up against. I need to prepare. So the idea of being in the vast emptiness of space and up against something completely alien is completely horrifying to me. It is a loss of control akin to demonic possession like I mentioned above.

Not all Sci-Fi Horror takes place in space, though. In fact, there is another sub-genre that also scares the crap out of me -- Alien Abduction. I'm not talking about Star Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy type of abduction. I'm talking about the kind in which aliens kidnap you like you were some animal in the wild and conduct experiments on you. Once again, this exploits my fears of a complete loss of agency. And also, the fact this could happen while your in bed trying to sleep. The place you should feel safest is invaded by something completely not of this earth that you can't even begin to understand.


I do find the lore regarding aliens and alien abductions fascinating. And I did begin a story revolving around that. Clearly, I like to write about the crap that scares me the most. But sometimes, when I can't sleep, I'll see someone's headlights bounce off the wall and for a split second, I'll scare myself about it. I know it's not true, but it still the idea of it frightens me.

I'm not afraid of serial killers or whatever. Those don't terrify me because when you're dead, you're dead. But just the idea of being up against something I don't understand or something I don't completely understand having control over my being while I'm aware of it will keep me up at night.

It is interesting because what we're afraid of does say a lot about our personalities. For me, it is definitely a control thing. I need to be in control. The thought of a situation in which I have none is my worst nightmare. 


  1. I think I said this once or twice talking about Lovecraft, but loss of agency=terrifying.

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