Horror

I’ve been meaning to write, for some time, on the subject of fear. Emotions are things that I’m quite aware of and they affect my decision making quite strongly. However, they are not things I experience with any overwhelming torrential force; at least, I don’t anymore. Fear, though, is something I still experience with some solidity. To me, it is still a very real thing. But, it’s not quite the same as it used to be…

When I was a child, I spent a lot of time in my basement. I wasn’t an isolated child, by any means. I always had a companion. However, I did enjoy my solitude. That was the place where my greatest adventures took place. That basement was my playground, my stage, my ethereal clay. Where once there was 80’s floral pattern and faux wooden panel, I erected alien worlds, ancient kingdoms, strange, erotically-driven alien races that sucked the life essence from a man through sexual acts that were administered at any time day or night. Sometimes, when I look into the darkness, I can still see myself looking out on a landscape that stretched far into the distance, laser-disk firmly in one hand and katana in the other,

There was a flip-side to this fertile aether. In a world crafted by the imagination, one must always give up a modicum of control. Perhaps it’s the darkness in which I always write or the under-cooked pizza turning in my stomach, but, just now, I can easily conjure those images, brief flashes of horror, more concept than vision. More feeling than illusion.

Alone, in the shadow cast by the flashing television screen, I would sit on a giant beanbag. My head, resting on the metal support-pole in the center of the room, would sway slightly from side to side. Then, as old houses with noisy furnaces have a tendency to do, the world around me would conjure a sound. I still don’t know what it was, and I don’t care to find out, but I’m sure it came from the ventilation system: a low, rolling reverberation, like a great, winged beast exhaling in its slumber. Snapping my head to the side, I would become acutely aware of the limits of my vision, of the blind-spots in the dark. Now, the television’s sound falls away. I am rigid, nerves firing, muscles twitching, a ball of quivering anticipation.

The light was my salvation, but its activation was so far beyond my grasp. I knew, I just knew, that if I moved and revealed my position, exposed my weakness, then they would come: the little chicken things with scythes for wings that liked to jump on my back and dig their claws in, the goblin troupe, on their merry way, whistling as they bludgeoned me with quaint, home-made, earthen tools and, wort of all, the thing from the furnace. The pilot light was a thing most devastating, glowering from deep within the shadows of the furnace at night. It wasn’t frightening during the day, which made it all the more sinister. Where was it hiding all the dread from the light? Truly, it is a barbaric thing to hide one’s nature in a shroud, only to reveal the self when the worst of it is felt. At least, that’s true when it comes to scaring little children in their homes. I’m sure that none of this was aided by my father’s tool room. It was a tiny, hallway of a room beside the furnace with walls of peg-board and floors of green cement (I don’t know to this day what it actually was). The room, though, looked more like a torture chamber than anything. Then, there was the room with no windows that was famous for inspiring the most terrifying of nightmares. At least, it was famous in our house, in our family, where ghost stories were so prevalent and spiritualism so rampant.

All of that was honed to a point, to a moment, as I gazed across the room at the light-switch, past all these monstrosities lurking in the dark, that was my savior. It was an eight-step walk, but in the mind of a child, on the floor that was a shire, a kingdom, a hair-salon, a planet, a galaxy, an arena, an ocean, those eight steps were an eternity and that switch an oasis promising swift deliverance while hiding, presumably, a grisly end. So, I’d snuggle down into my covers and wait for the end. The noise of the television would reassert itself and I’d try to forget my nagging fears.

Now, though, there is little more disturbing than that. It’s true, it’s what I did, it’s what I do. When our fears loom, and we feel powerless, our go-to move isn’t rising up. We try our best to ignore it and pretend its not a thing. I’ll admit, many of the fears we entertain are baseless and boundless, but many carry more force and consequence than goblins or ghosts. Now, I fear complacency because I see it within my self.

Fear takes many forms, though. It’s not all philosophical conundrums and vibrant flashes of remembered phlebotinum. For that reason alone, disorderly emotional resonance deserves another post, which will come at a later date. Cheers!

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