I have plenty of them. I’m sure most folks do. Normally I keep them pretty well in check, or at least think I do. Since I’m crazy, anyway, most folks either don’t notice or mercifully pretend not to.
Most of them are the mundane sorts. Will I keep my job? Will I suffer pain, embarassment or death today? Does my significant other love me? Is there an afterlife for coyote mongrels, and if there is, is Loki there, and if he is, is he happy and pain free and forgiving for the times I was a less-than-stellar owner? (Okay, maybe that last one isn’t very mundane. But you get the drift.)
Some are less rational, but still, I think at least, somewhat understandable. If I say this online now, is this going to snowball and land me in a nutjob’s crosshairs later? If I have this delicious pound of barely-cooked lamb now, will it cause a chain reaction ending with me locked in a bathroom, missing work and being fired for it? Am I sure I turned off the Playstation, or will one of the cats chew on the controller charging cord, cause a series of sparks that kill the cat and burn down the house?
Then there’s the irrational kind. “I think I might be haunted by my deceased sister, and she’s mad at me.” “My mother is going to turn up on the doorstep one day with a lawsuit, a shotgun, or both.” “My father, among all the possible suspects, will be the schizophrenic murderer, and that genetic legacy will run true, sooner or later.” “There’s a disembodied hand crawling on the floor towards me and I have to scream, but can’t, so will choke to death trying to scream or get my aspirator shoved down my throat.”
Yeah. I have problems. See the first paragraph. I’m a high-functioning manic depressive with possible delusions and paranoid ideations. Whaddaya want from me? I’m just lucky enough to occasionally make my psychosis work for me.
Now, the upside of this is that very very few fictional, fantastic (but supposedly factual) or fantastical fears have much of a hold on me. I can read horror novels all night, watch hundreds of horror movies or play Silent Hill from dusk til dawn and not get a single shiver. FNAF4 and Outlast may leave me feeling very tense, but it’s more nervousness or the jumpscare that gets me, rather than a lingering malaise, dread or general creepout… And once the game, book or film is done, anything that did manage to freak me out goes away.
A few things stick. Mirrors is one. One of my irrational fears directly relates to mirrors, so a whole movie about them being conduits for evil – and the way the imagery was done in that film – is an awful idea for me to be exposed to. Likewise, water will never be my friend (I’ve been technically dead twice due to drowning, and can’t get water in the face or above my stomach without having a panic attack) so What Lies Beneath was a bad idea. There’s a few moments in Doctor Sleep and its predecessor, The Shining, that bother me; and I still have to double check small closets as a result of “The Boogeyman.” We’re not going to talk about Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark‘s “The Thing.”
But compare that list to the number of books, movies and games I’ve been exposed to, and you find it’s a very tiny percentage that get past the walls, and usually have to have at last some relation to one of my real (or real imaginary…) issues.
Something new did, today. Unexpected. Completely nonsensical, given the source material. But because it did, I feel the need to bring it up.
I’m sure a lot of folks online have heard of Haunted Harold. A possessed, haunted and/or cursed doll, sold on eBay in a long and involved drama that one can find the details of with a quick Google search. I follow Harold’s blog, originally out of a morbid curiousity that evolved into a cynical amusement. Today, I said “What the hell,” as the situation finally allowed it, and so I grabbed the book.
I’ve read 1/5th of it. And now I’m sitting here, in the dark house, freaking the hell out. Every creak has me on edge, every time the dog gets restless and paces to his bowl and back, every random pop from the vape pen as it sits on the charger. The pet artist is off at work where she will remain until the early hours of the morning, so I have Animaniacs blaring and an extra gallon of coffee on hand, because sleep has officially been cancelled.
There’s no reason for it. The story thusfar is hokey, sensationalistic and – to be brutally honest – silly camp. But for some reason it’s pressing all the little fight-or-flight buttons in my lizard brain, even though nothing really overt has been discussed yet. So far it reads like a hundred Creepypastas I’ve laughed at over the years. But there’s some glimmer in there that has freaked me out, and it makes it worse because I can’t identify what it is. Unlike Mirrors or What Lies Beneath, I can’t point at my real-life phobias and say “This is there, that’s why it bothers me.” Unlike “The Boogeyman” or Doctor Sleep, I can’t trace the logic and plot chain link by link to see the wall of fear and where it fell on me. It just grabs me and won’t let go.
Maybe there’s something to the Haunted Harold thing, after all. Or maybe I’ve just psyched myself out. Or maybe the extra stress and depression from the crap at work this week is just spilling out this way.
Oh well. At least I know I’m crazy. That helps, sometimes. But what about the rest of you out there? What scares you? Found some bit of media that for no obvious reason just puts you in a panic? Let us know down below…