hunted and haunted

Once you put something in your brain, you can't get it back out again.

It's something my mother used to say to me.  She was concerned more for my moral health than my mental health, I suspect, because she's no stranger to scary movies.  But scary movies are what I can't seem to get out of my head, so that's where her lesson has really resonated.

I don't get it.  I don't get it.  Why do people watch this stuff???

I blame most of my complete and utter terror on accidentally walking in on my parents at the age of 4 as they watched Hellraiser.  (Yes, there are many things you could walk in on your parents doing that could potentially scar you for life, but let me throw out there that seeing THIS:


The thing is, I have an imagination that won't quit.  And I don't mean that in the "ooooh, girl has legs that won't quit" kind of way.  I mean I can't turn it off, even when I want to.  I mentally write characters into every television show I watch.  I craft dialogue for movies that will never be filmed.  I live and re-live scenes from my own life; I rehearse telephone conversations I'll never have; I have long, detailed conversations with people I've never met.  This is my default.  Sometimes it's exhausting, but this is how my mind keeps itself occupied.  (In case you couldn't guess, I am the world's worst at meditating.)  But what this means is that once I see something scary... it multiplies, becomes something else.  Something bigger.  It takes up residence, digs in its claws, and fills my brainspace with its rotting breath and shining eyes.

It wasn't just Hellraiser that invaded my mind.  When I was... I don't know, maybe 12 or so, my brother and cousin and I watched Scream.  Now, I know the cool thing to do here would be to scoff and say, "And I mean, that movie wasn't scary at all," but uh... it was.  It really, really was.  The three of us were huddled up together in the dark, in a trailer, in the middle of the woods, in the middle of NOWHERE, in rural North Carolina.  As we watched the movie, I realized with a jolt that the light from the television was glaring blue off the windows, and I couldn't see outside.  As the night went on, I became sure - absolutely certain - that someone was standing out there, watching us.  Waiting.  And then the movie ended however it ended, with gore and terror and room for a sequel, and it was time for my brother and I to leave.  We had to.  We were staying at a house about a half-mile away, and our parents were expecting us back, and that meant we were going to have to cross a wide expanse of field in suffocating blackness while being chased by the knife-weilding sociopath who was standing on the other side of the window, stone-faced and merciless and just waiting for us to come out so he could torture us to death.

I have never run so fast.  Every footfall was a heartbeat was him; every star reflected the glint of a knife; every shadow kept pace.  Every breath was a reminder that there was no escape.

I suppose some people find that sort of terror exhilarating.  I just felt hunted.

So, unless you count The Sixth Sense - and I seem to be the only person who does - I haven't seen a scary movie since.  (I still have moments of complete terror that I'm going to round a corner and a kid with half his head blown off is going to ask me if I want to check out his father's gun.)  I don't read scary books.  I squinch my eyes shut and mute the commercials for scary shows on TV.  I can't let that stuff in.

Because the scariest part is, once it's in, I can't get it out again. 

The scariest part is: then, there really is no escape.

Happy Halloween.


  1. I totally get how you are, and why this holiday is not a favorite - I can't turn on the TV or even read blogs today without being afraid of what I'll see. I like action movies, and even gritty war movies, but I never ever watch spooky movies.

    The last one I remember watching, in fact, was the "Space Vampire" episode of "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century," way back in grade school, when I went to sleep with not only the lights on, but a jackknife in one hand, a flashlight in the other, and two homemade samurai swords tucked at my side.

    Glad to know I'm not alone in this.

  2. I was just thinking about this last night, about how those scary images from decades ago are still in my brain like a computer virus, doing damage. I wish I'd never watched a Friday the 13th movie or any of those creepy shows when I was younger. My imagination never shuts off either. Even all these years later, I'm still freaked out by some of that stuff.

  3. I'm so glad to know it's not just me! This freakiest of holidays always makes me feel like a superfreak. And not the good kind.

    @MC - can you please oh please teach me how to make homemade samurai swords??

  4. Ha! This is so me! :) I insert new characters into old movies. I create dialogues out of nowhere, for stories that don't exist. With people I'll never talk that seriously too...but wish I could. It's great. And, yes, exhausting and dangerous. One of the reasons I also avoid scary movies. :)

  5. I count The Sixth Sense as a scary movie! It was man! Scary enough anyway. I don't think I've seen a scary movie since then either.

    And p.s., I hope you get published soon. I just started a publishing company with the option to act as a publishing consultant or a straight up copyeditor. If you know of any writers who are interested in my services please let them/me know! The website will be www.inspiripress.com. There's nothing there yet because I've been concentrating on getting my book out the door first.

  6. @ Melody - It took me a long time to figure out that lots of other people walk around talking to people who don't actually exist, and that they're called Writers. :) Love it!

    @Rebekah - very cool!! I'm so excited for you. :) Let me know when it gets off the ground and I'll see what I can do about spreading the word!