By Aislinn De'Ath

By Aislinn De'Ath
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Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Fear factor...

Reader, I am addicted to being scared. Horror films, spooky books, stories about ghosts and real life haunted houses, even people passing on urban legends late at night after a couple of drinks, I love it all. That is, I love it all when I can go home and get into a shared bed. Slightly less now that I have to sleep alone. With a big full length mirror facing me. And a red curtained window next to me. And a bed that has plenty of space for a ghost/demon/murderer/monster (delete as appropriate) to hide beneath it, waiting to get it's claws/knife/big clown hands on me.

So for the time being, I am attempting to avoid scary things. Now, this isn't particularly easy, given that
a) I have two scary but brilliant books next to my bed begging and pleading to be read
b) I am in a play that features a character who is essentially a spider given woman's form (and I have a very over active imagination)
c) Norwich has a ghost walk I really really want to go on

The thing is, when I was a kid I had really severe, quite terrifyingly grown up nightmares. And I have a sneaky suspicion that they might tiptoe back if the door is even open a crack for them (and take the place of the very humdrum nightmares I have now about forgetting lines, accidentally smoking and The Lad cheating). Don't believe they were bad? Here are a couple of the ones that scared me so much I slept with the light on for a good few years of my childhood (which is probably why my skin has such a delightful yellowish waxy tone to it nowadays)

1) The butcher

This one (I assume) must have quite a bit to do with seeing Hong Kong meat markets as a kid, mixed with the usual child nightmare of parents splitting up. Bear in mind I was about 5/6 when I first had this one.

My parents have got a divorce. I am surprisingly ok with this, so my mum takes me to meet her new boyfriend, a cheery, chubby chap with a bald spot. We go to his bungalow and he and mum sit, chatting about various old relationships they've had in his chintzy front room. Eventually, I get bored and decide to go fetch a drink. Without them noticing, I slip off the sofa and out of the door. When I get into the hallway (which is very femininely decorated, a bit like a maiden aunt's home) I see a number of heavy doors, none of which are marked. The one ahead has a humming noise like a fridge or something coming from it, so I realise that it must be the kitchen. With all my strength I push open the door and tumble in. Looking round, I discover that rather than being in a kitchen, I am in a giant meat freezer, complete with bloodied carcasses of meat hooked from the ceiling. When I take a closer look, I see they're the naked bodies of middle aged men, and somehow realise that these are the partners of all mum's new boyfriends' exes. Suddenly, his voice rings out from the doorway, 'She didn't know about him,' he booms, as I back into the swinging body of my father (only to find I can't scream), 'but she gave me permission for you!' He advances at me with a hook in one hand as my dad's hand twitches and I realise that he's not yet dead, but can't help me, because he is so horribly injured by the hook he himself hangs from. And I know I'll be joining him soon.

Creepy right?! I was so young! HOW DID MY BRAIN COME UP WITH THAT?!?!

2) The Dark Thing

So this one was when I was a bit older, about 8 or so, and you have to bear in mind that camping in my cousins garden was something we were pretty likely to do, both being big fans of american kids stories like The Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High (where they did things like camp in the garden ALL THE TIME)

It's a very very clear, beautiful summer's night. Me and my cousin Nicki are camping out in her garden, without a tent, just with an old bed her parents are getting rid of anyway, so have let us use for the night as a bit of peter pan style glamour. Nicki gets into bed but before I go, I want to look into the pond, which is so still it's like a mirror. As I glance in, I see a dark shape soar above my head. I look up, but there's nothing to be seen so I assume it's a bird or a bat. I clamber into bed and say goodnight to Nicki, who's now drifted off anyway, so she can't hear me. As I close my eyes, dragged into sleep, the dark shape swoops down. It's not a bat, it's the size of a full grown man, but not a man. A formless being of evil who's only wish is to eat my soul and step inside to inhabit my body instead. I can't fight it off, I am already asleep.

Of course, the scary thing about this particular nightmare was that when I woke up from it, the shape was floating around my ceiling, before settling at the end of my bed, watching me as if waiting for me to fall asleep again, I screamed and screamed and my dad came running in and turned on the light, at which point it disappeared. Now, years later, I realise that it was a night terror (something which I've suffered a fair few times since with spiders), but as an 8 year old who couldn't logically work out what she was seeing, can you imagine how freaky that was?

You know what?

 I'm going to stop there and watch an episode or 10 of 30 Rock. Otherwise, there'll be no more sleep for me this month!

Tarrah folks! Dream sweet dreams....

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