I’ve never considered writing horror stories, but I must admit that I had perhaps too much fun participating in this horror writing challenge last year. I’ve just been asked to participate in a modified version of the challenge this year, and so I’ve been contemplating what exactly is creepy to me.
For instance, when Doug and I were house hunting over a decade ago, we were seriously considering a ranch house with a neighboring cemetery. As Doug made jokes about “quiet neighbors” and Elijah not having as far to go on Passover, I contemplated whether I really wanted to live that close to a cemetery because the thought of being there, alone, at night, creeped me out. The house itself needed some work, though its fenced-in backyard with huge garden and in-ground sprinkler system nearly had me sold. Then my parents came to check out the house and my mom revealed that she’d known the family that lived there before, and the son had committed suicide in the home. There was no longer a chance in hell we’d move there–even if I could deal with the ghosts next door, I couldn’t deal with the one in the basement. No way. Uh-uh.
I’m a pretty practical person, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get creeped out. Not so much by disgusting things, but more by the preternatural and just downright scary. I don’t watch horror movies for this reason: my already overactive imagination just doesn’t need further stimulation. I’ve had several hair-on-the-back-of-the-neck-raising experiences in my life, without the aid of any TV necessary. On a list that I’m only now constructing in my head, I would have to include clowns (thank you very much, Stephen King), most dolls–especially ventriloquist dummies–and Ouija boards.
If you want to end your friendship with me, bring out a Ouija board while I’m visiting. I will absolutely refuse to go anywhere near it and will likely give you an ultimatum: Either I go, or the Ouija board does. And it’s not enough to just put it back in its box now. No–now it needs to be doused in the tears of Beezlebub and placed in the fiery pit of hell from whence it came. So yeah, I’ve got a pretty visceral reaction to Ouija, and it’s because of a
bad awful nightmare-inducing experience I had with one half a lifetime ago. Long story short, let’s just say that when something otherworldly tells me to GET THE HELL OFF THE BOARD and the other person “playing” with me doesn’t process thoughts fast enough to have controlled anything, I tend to sit up and listen. Yeah, it’s insane. And yeah, it’s a friggin’ board game, mass-produced in some Hasbro factory, but I still stand by my story. I don’t try to explain the inexplicable.
Another definitely creepy occurrence in my Book of Life would have to be the jackals at Ma’alot. As part of the program I participated in, living in Tzfat, Israel, we took a three-day hike across the country, from the Sea of Galilee to the Mediterranean. One night we camped out near Ma’alot, and by camped, I mean a sleeping bag on the ground, no tent, no protection. We were warned to tie our shoes together–to tie everything that we didn’t want to walk away–together and even, if we wanted, to fling it over a tree branch. To loosely quote from Les Miserables, the jackals came at night. They wandered among us, snuffling and sniffing us, as I lay as still as possible in my sleeping bag, with my eyes squeezed tightly shut. They could have done whatever they wanted to us, but we’d been told they were harmless when it came to humans. I suppose if one had suddenly developed an urge to taste human flesh, then whoever was on sentry duty, complete with loaded rifle, would have had a reason for staying awake while the rest of us slept. That doesn’t help to reassure me much now, thinking back to how little I slept that night.
So what do you find creepy? Let me know–I’d love to tap into your darkest fears to come up with an appropriately horrific story. Bwah ha ha. And by the way, don’t Google “creepy.” Trust me; just don’t.
@2016 Rachel L. MacAulay All Rights Reserved.