Blogoween Day 19 – Freaky Fiction Friday: Recommended Classic Reads

FFF - Blogoween

I should have written something today, but the day got away from me! In lieu of hasty, thoughtless prose of my own, I’d like to recommend some classic reads:

“The Outsider” by H.P. Lovecraft

“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

“The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe

“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

“Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Blogoween Day 17 – Witchcrafting Wednesday: Giant PVC Spider

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This week is going by incredibly quickly and is very full of stuff and things and driving and moving and I can barely sit down to even type this out, so I am going to steal…FROM MYSELF!

Way back in 2013, I made a giant spider for my front lawn. I loved that thing to the very core of my black, icy heart, but of course I no longer have her. I only have the photos and the how to! I made a post about it on a very old site that I don’t utilize anymore, so I reverted that post to a draft, and I’m reposting here. Enjoy!

I fell in love with the concept of a larger-than-life arachnid when I happened upon one during a Google search and based him on designs here and here. He was shockingly simple to make and he will take up a hell of a lot of space: brodude ended up being almost 10 feet wide!

I sure hope these photos work, they’re still hosted on Blogspot I guess!

Supplies:

  • PVC PIPE! (a Halloween decorator’s biggest woe: why doesn’t PVC come in black???) I used 1/2″ which makes him a bit spindly. Bigger can obviously be used. I used about 58′ of pipe. Oh, and remember you don’t need like super fancy schedule pipe–this shit don’t need to carry water!
  • 4 – tee connectors
  • 8 – right angle connectors
  • 12 – 45 degree connectors
  • PVC cutters
  • Paint
  • Expandable foam (2 cans for me)
  • A ball of sorts
  • Cardboard
  • Creepy accoutrements

You want to start out with your base to keep your legs together (not metaphorically speaking, do whatever you’d like with your legs!). I had some painted PVC leftover from last year’s fence, and I have to say that cutting that pre-painted shit was a nightmare. Cutting clean, new PVC, though, was much better. I eyeballed these pieces, so I can’t really tell you the length of them, you just want both sides somewhat symmetrical. Or not, it’s your thing, after all. The front and back legs will bend away from the main body, so those connecting pieces can be much shorter than the middle legs which will be pretty similar, so they need some space. Connect your front legs with 45° thingies and the middle ones with your tee thingies. (Note: try to not call them “thingies” at the hardware store.  You will get more respect and better help from the seasoned old men in the red vests if you use their official-type name.)

All the pipes sticking up from the body bit I’m calling 1s. The 1s for all eight legs are all 24 inches long in my version. Between all 1s and 2s (the second leg segment) are all 90° connectors.  Okay, the most confusing part is coming up (luckily no part of this is really confusing so, you’re welcome). Each leg is made up of three segments. The two front and two back legs are 1, 2A, and 3A.  All of these segments are 24 inches. The middle legs are 1, 2B, and 3B.  Segment 1 is still 24″ but 2B and 3B are 36 inches. Got it? Okay, great. I knew you would.  Oh, and segment 2 and 3, no matter what length they are, are connected by a 45° connector.

I constructed my middle legs first and attached them to the base to hold it up.  I was experimenting with size, so I didn’t know what I needed for the front and back at this point.

You can get a little organicness by rotating the tee connectors ever so slightly to make the middle legs not be perfectly in line with one another. All of the connectors should be at a slight angle outward. You’ll see when you’ve got your legs on.

Oh my gods, my old hooooooooooooooooooooouse!! Look how sparce it was. We had NO furniture.

My suggestion would be to not construct this inside, for obvious reasons. Since I knew I’d want to play with the size and it wouldn’t be just a simple slap it all together thing, and it’s like a billion degrees outside, I did it in my living room. Had a couple other projects going on at the time too, so the place is messier than usual. When I transported it to the garage it fell apart completely (fitting through door frames and the like) and my neighbors heard their fair share of curses that day.

Once outside I propped it up again, being sure to get it up to the same height I had inside (putting the body at about 19 inches off the ground), and I grabbed a pizza hut box cover, cutting out the basic body and pincer shape I wanted.

I got this Charlotte-Perkins-Gilman-yellow ball from Walmart for $2.50. It was nasty and gritty and I could feel myself getting the kid-flu just from looking at it through the bungee chord bin. I had my first awkward exchange with a cashier of the season because of this ball. He asked me about my kids and I of course responded, “Hu? I don’t have any…oh! Yeah, no, that’s a spider butt.” I placed it between the middle and back legs and shoved it almost to the cardboard (not all the way down though) preserving the width between the legs.

The next step is to go crazy with expandable foam–your best friend at Halloween, looking all nasty and organ-y. God, I love it. I used an entire can (you have to use the can in one go, as it will harden in the nozzle) and covered the body, built up the fangs, and secured the connections to the 1s.

I used a second can to fill in under the ball/butt (this makes sure it sticks) and to build up around the leg connections and anywhere I wanted it to go.  Since my ball is transparent, I could see that I was getting all the crevasses.  And it can be super messy because that’s what Halloween is, right?

Finally, I had some crappy black fabric from last year’s dollar-store Halloween binge and tied it off at the connectors for the legs and spread it over the ball/butt.  I wanted spidey’s bum to be smoother than the rest of the body, but not super smooth. Adding this netting did nothing for the actual construction though, so it’s not necessary. Anything you want to do to give this dude body should be done now. Because painting’s next.

More tie-on things.

So then basically I spray painted him black. Spray painting PVC is kinda a pain, so I partially sprayed, partially used some old charcoal-grey paint and brushes from last year to do the legs. I liked painting over the netting because it helps it stick to the body and it gives it more depth. You can see some of that sickening yellow peaking through, and I like that too. I considered using these little skulls I had for eyes, doing about six or eight of them on the head, but it didn’t look right. For now I am forgoing eyes, and if I find something I like I’ll add them, but he will most likely stay like that. I went a little bonkers from the spray paint and played around with some metallic grey stuff too for fun. You can’t really tell, but he looks kind of wet which is creepy. He got a layer of clear coat to protect him from the rain too, of course.

And that’s it! Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. He’ll need something to keep him up probably once he’s mounted on the lawn, but I’ll figure that out when the time comes. Skinny Aragog will take up a spot 10′ wide on the lawn or some roof space if you can figure out how to hang him. Now I’ve just got to figure out how to do other projects that require the garage while this jerk takes up all the space. What possessed me to make this dude at the end of August is beyond me.

 

And that’s the end of that old post. Wow, I actually did a pretty terrible job explaining that…I definitely think I’ll be recreating this guy in the year to come, hopefully a new and improved version of him, and I’ll put up much better directions. Ugh, I just got myself re-pumped for Halloween, but I have to go back to packing…it will be worth it once we move though because we’ll get to pass out candy!

Blogoween Day 16 – True Terror Tuesday: Growing Up

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That’s it. Growing up. It’s fucking scary. End of blog.

Just kidding, I am way more long winded than that.

Did you ever play “light as a feather, still as a board” growing up? In case you’re unfamiliar, the game goes something like this:

One friend lies on the ground, arms crossed over her chest like a corpse. The rest of the friends encircle her, kneeling or sitting, and slide their middle and pointer fingers under her body (coincidentally, the Ouija planchette fingers). Sometimes, if not every time, one of the sitting friends tells a story about how the subject “died” or gives a little eulogy, and then the friends in the circle chant: “Light as a feather, stiff as a board” over and over until they are able to lift the “dead” friend off the floor.

Does it work? In my memory, abso-fucking-lutely. And you don’t question it as a kid because duh, magic is real, and all the grown ups are just keeping it from you! Or they don’t believe anymore so they can’t experience it (like Santa). But it’s right there, in your bedroom, levitation by the power of four ten-year-olds chanting a phrase that one of them learned from their big sister.

So it’s most likely that, as a group, we picked one another up, and were so caught up in the game, it felt real, and after a couple decades our memories are just fuzzy enough to let us question what happened in the wee hours of a weekend morning long ago, but there is a part of me that wants to believe there is some kind of magic going on. And there’s a bigger part of me that wishes I still had the capacity that ten year old me had to anticipate certain outcomes.

I was thinking about this game and others like it and the willingness of my childhood friends (and myself) to engage in such things. Similarly we played Bloody Mary and Candyman (whose name to this day makes me nervous) which always evoked a quick exit from the bathroom and have made me forever nervous of mirrors in dark rooms. Less “dangerous” were fortune-telling games with folded paper and asking ouija boards who you might marry when you grow up (to be clear: I do not believe ouija boards are inherently evil, Hasbro is not mass-producing portals to hell, ya’ll). There were other, let’s call them rituals that bordered on the occult like “crack an egg on your head” or guessing what words someone was tracing on your back, and even the act of braiding the hair of your friend who sat in front of you in class, now looking back on it, was almost like witchcraft, the physical embodiment of saying “this is a member of my coven.”

I wanted to find the origin of light as a feather since it seems such a shared experience, but unlike games with poems or songs like Red Rover or Ring Around The Rosie, it is often done in secret, at night, rarely spoken of outside the slumber party, and unobserved. How did it get handed down and for how long has it existed? Surely it was imagined in the last hundred or so years, maybe popularized by some movie in the seventies, and it will die off in the next few generations in favor of all the 3am games popping up all over the internet. I was surprised, however, to find the diary Samuel Pepys, a British civil servant, who wrote the following in his diary on July 31, 1665:

This evening with Mr. Brisband, speaking of enchantments and spells; I telling him some of my charms; he told me this of his owne knowledge, at Bourdeaux, in France. The words these:

Voyci un Corps mort,
Royde come un Baston,
Froid comme Marbre,
Leger come un esprit,
Levons to au nom de Jesus Christ.

He saw four little girles, very young ones, all kneeling, each of them, upon one knee; and one begun the first line, whispering in the eare of the next, and the second to the third, and the third to the fourth, and she to the first. Then the first begun the second line, and so round quite through, and, putting each one finger only to a boy that lay flat upon his back on the ground, as if he was dead; at the end of the words, they did with their four fingers raise this boy as high as they could reach, and he [Mr. Brisband] being there, and wondering at it, as also being afeard to see it, for they would have had him to have bore a part in saying the words, in the roome of one of the little girles that was so young that they could hardly make her learn to repeat the words, did, for feare there might be some sleight used in it by the boy, or that the boy might be light, call the cook of the house, a very lusty fellow, as Sir G. Carteret’s cook, who is very big, and they did raise him in just the same manner.

This is one of the strangest things I ever heard, but he tells it me of his owne knowledge, and I do heartily believe it to be true. I enquired of him whether they were Protestant or Catholique girles; and he told me they were Protestant, which made it the more strange to me.

So I came to the conclusion that all little girls are born witches, and somewhere along the way we lose that. And that’s the true terror of this Tuesday.

Blogoween Day 14 – Favorite Horror Comedy Films

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My favorite genre of film might just be the horror-comedy. I want to be scared and grossed out, and I want to laugh about it. These are hard to do right, I think, because they can’t be comedies in Halloween costumes–no, they must first and foremost be horror films that are also funny. For instance: Scary Movie and its sequels are comedies (and I use the term loosely) wearing Halloween costumes (though I will admit I love Anna Faris and Scary Movie 2 has a special place in my heart for being so fucking quotable). The Scary Movies and their ilk sacrifice many of the elements that make a good horror film for comedic elements. In a truly good horror-comedy, the humor is found within the horror. The laughter usually lightens the mood, but a lot of these movies are still dark, gruesome, or downright scary. So if you’re interested in being spooked, but not too spooked, this season, check these out:

TDvEvil
“We’ve had a doozy of a day.”

Tucker and Dale vs Evil

I remember seeing this movie constantly be suggested for me on Netflix and being pissed off because I assumed it was about two rednecks who get all self-righteous and fight some zombies. I was wrong enough to absolutely fall in love with this A+ film. This movie does just about everything right from the characterization of the main hillbillies to the so-shocking-you-have-to-laugh death scenes. It’s bloody, it’s wild, and it’s great. Also, Alan Tudyk.

 

shadows
“I hit an artery.”

What We Do In The Shadows

This would probably be a desert island pick for me, right up there with just about every other mockumentary I’ve ever seen (my other favorite genre). This might be a dubious pick to some because it is so funny that it could be argued it is first and foremost a comedy, but even if so, to hell with it because it’s hilarious. I also find the characters really endearing and their stories somewhat compelling, so it ticks even more boxes about what a good film should be. Also, I hear they’re making a television show as a follow up now? Normally I hate when someone so good gets capitalized on, because it’s usually just that–an attempt at a fat check–but I have faith in the people who made this.

 

shaun
“Fuck-a-doodle-do!”

Shaun of the Dead

Probably one of the most deserving movies to be considered classified as a horror film first, then a comedy, SOTD also does a great job of depicting what would actually happen during a zombie outbreak–one in 2004 London, at least. Anything with Simon Pegg is usually good, but this movie is exceptional as are the other two in the “Blood and Ice Cream” trilogy.

deathgasm
“Do demons recognize daylight savings?”

Deathgasm

Okay, I know that’s…quite a title, but hear me out! I actually found Deathgasm because I was looking for a bad movie. I though, based on the title and description, it was going to be one of those B-movie gems that’s so bad it’s good, but it actually turned out to be so good that I felt bad for underestimating it. Then I felt bad because not more people know about it! It’s just so much fun. This movie has everything: heavy metal, demons, zombies, weaponized dildos. It also explores the concepts of friendship, competition, and what evil actually is, all covered with a nice, thick coating of blood.

housbound
“You cannot punch ectoplasm.”

Housebound

While very funny, Housebound actually scared me a number of times. Recalling it, I think I felt more fear than joviality, and that’s because unlike the others on my list, this movie explores horror from a strictly paranormal aspect. There is no marveling at how insane it is that zombies–you know, like actual zombies from the movies–are walking amongst the characters and no over-the-top gore to under-react to for a laugh. There’s just a haunting, a mystery, and actual fear. It will make you laugh though, especially due to Rima Te Wiata’s portrayal of the sweet but daft mother.

Honorable Mention: The entire country of New Zealand. This list wouldn’t exist if not for the great kiwi nation and I’m forever indebted to them for so many gems.

Blogoween Day 12 – Freaky Fiction Friday: Saber and Parchment

FFF - Blogoween

Note: This is written in first person, and sounds a lot like normal blogging me. Though it’s based on true events, it is, obviously, fiction. It was written originally in an attempt at the NoSleep style, part one to a longer story. Perhaps I’ll continue, only time will tell, but I do think it can stand alone.

Saber and Parchment

I met Nick when I was in my final semester at [redacted]. We had an American lit class together, and our mutual love of Poe evolved into love for one another. We moved in together that summer, some might say too quickly, but we knew we were meant to be together. It felt like fate.

Or like a totally manufactured series of events.

Maybe I jumped in head first because I never thought I could have anything normal, and Nick felt like my chance at normal. Up until my last couple years of college, my life had been so full of fucking noise–just this constant background chatter from what I affectionately call the Other Side, like background music that would occasionally crescendo into some horrific experience. But since about my sophomore year everything had gone quiet, and when I met Nick I thought maybe, just maybe, I’d imagined everything in my life up until that point.

Nick was a year older than I, but I finished my degree first as he was balancing school and work to help pay for his degree. Nick’s job was unique: he worked third shift for the university’s emergency facilities department. It was way too easy, and he got paid way too much to do it, even as a student employee, and of course he loved it. Basically, he waited to get alerts that could range from the temperature gauges in the science facilities varying by a degree, to a forced entry through any of the keycard-access-only dorms, and when they came, he would dispatch the right people to handle the issue. The alarms didn’t sound often despite the university being massive, and most of what he handled were drunken students stuck in elevators, or drunken student pulling fire alarms, or drunken students, well, you get the idea. There was always one other employee, a non-student, there as well, so Nick spent the majority of his time writing essays, watching pirated movies, and on rare occasion he’d go “exploring.” It was a sweet gig, and he was going into his fourth year at it when we moved in together.

I was newly graduated with an English degree and no idea what to do with it, but lucky enough to snag an editorial assistant job with a favorite professor of ours, the very professor whose class Nick and I met in. I could work anytime I wanted, so we both ended up living nocturnally that last semester he finished up school.

We lived in a shoddy one bedroom just off campus, but popular housing for students as some of our classmates lived in the same complex, and walking a couple blocks would get us on to university grounds. The school was spread out over hundreds of acres, and though it had its own transit system, it didn’t run at night, and Nick was usually scheduled from 10pm to 6am. His office was in one of the oldest halls on campus so there was very little parking near it, and most parking on campus required a pass that we were too cheap to shell out for anyway. He usually biked there, but when it was raining or particularly freezing, I drove him. I liked the drive, even at 15 miles an hour on old cobbled streets, and more importantly, I liked knowing Nick was safe.

I imagine there are other things like it, but in all the years since, I’ve never quite experienced the silence that is driving through a university campus just before sunrise. Parties ended hours before, classes have yet to start, and exhaustion settles over the grounds like a dense fog. In those moments, the towering halls and copper statues seem like relics from lifetimes ago, and you wonder if anyone will ever return to these ruins after you.

Of course, even in the predawn there are people out, very few, and most unseen–this I know better now than I ever wished to.

Summer passed uneventfully, with Nick taking a couple evening classes, and me getting paid to collect research for Professor White. He was working on a book about magic and folklore in literature with plans to publish in the following year. I was reading through renaissance poetry and romantic gothic novels to find the exact passages he would reference vaguely from memory in his notes, and typing up the information for him throughout the night, then Nick would come home by sunrise, we’d sleep for a few hours, and start our day over again. By fall we were in a pretty good rhythm save for Nick picking up an early morning class twice a week.

Nick’s job was technically high security, but he’d ask me to come eat “lunch” around 1am with him on occasion. I’d bring fast food if his counterpart John was working, and a burger or a couple tacos would keep him quiet about my presence. One night I got a Skype message from Nick–texting didn’t work from his basement office–asking me to come for lunch in the next hour. I hadn’t planned on it, but Nick typed out that he’d found “something awesome” and needed to show me.

I brought some Thai for all three of us, and left the car in a delivery area safe enough for an hour or two. Campus police seemed to like nothing better than to call a tow truck on passless cars, but didn’t start patrolling until around 5am. Nick was waiting for me at the door: his ID was high security and allowed him into most buildings on campus, but mine just gave me special library access, and without cell service down in his office, he wouldn’t know I was there otherwise. The emergency facilities office was a small room in the basement of [redacted] Hall, a largely disused building that had stood on campus in some form or another since its inception. The office had a number of cubicles, two glass-windowed offices for management during normal business hours, and cement block walls painted hastily in hospital white. Monitors lined one wall, most filled with text, one of them displaying a live video of the hall we’d just walked down, and a gentle hum filled the room. That hum let you know everything was fine.

We ate, and Nick told John he was going to take a break. John waved him off and hunched over in his chair, eyes closed. When we were out in the hall, I asked Nick what happened if John fell asleep. “He always does,” he told me, “but he’s never missed an alarm yet.”

Nick took me to the end of the hall where a heavy, fireproof door opened into a dim stairwell with the swipe of his ID. To my surprise, the stairs headed down. I grabbed his arm when the door slammed behind us, echoing into the empty space. “I thought your office was the basement?”

“Sub basement,” he pointed over the railing and winked a blue eye at me.

“Are we allowed down there?”

Nick shrugged and held up his ID, “I guess.”

Another fireproof door sat at the bottom of the stairwell, and through it a sadly-lit hall that was too dark to see its end. I immediately didn’t like it, but Nick insisted I had to see what he found, which he still wasn’t defining for me. He swiped his badge on the second door on the left and turned the handle, “You’re gonna love this.”

A single light shone down from the room’s center. Some old desks were upturned in the corner, but otherwise the space was empty. I looked back at him, and his face immediately fell. “What the hell?” He moved passed me and looked around, but there was nowhere to really search in the small space. “I swear it was right here!”

“What was here?” I gnawed on my lip. Nick was a bad liar, and his surprise seemed pretty genuine.

He walked to the corner with the desks, “This bin…this big rolling bin full of books.” Nick held his arms out to mimic the size, “Like loads of books!”

My heart sort of skipped at the idea of something so large and presumably heavy just vanishing in the middle of the night. “And you’re sure it was this room?”

“I left the light on,” he screwed up his face, gesturing to the fixture above us that had indeed been on when we entered, “I mean, it was right here, and it was huge.”

I wanted to bolt, then calm washed over me as I realized. “Huge, hu?” I went up to him and slipped a finger into his belt, “Like something else?”

His face changed, sort of giving me a stupid grin, “Yeah…” then he shook his head, “But no, seriously. This is weird.”

Now that was weird: he’d never turned down an opportunity to fool around.

Nick moved past me and my advances back out into the hall. From the doorway, I glanced down into the darkness at its far end as he started opening other doors. When my stomach flipped, I tried to convince myself the Thai just wasn’t sitting right, but when I followed him into a different room across the hall, the queasy feeling wouldn’t rescind. Nick was very still, staring at the back wall. Again there was a small pile of desks to his right, but the room was larger, and its most prominent feature was a chain-link fence reaching from floor to ceiling, caging off the back half of the space. The light above where Nick stood shone only slightly beyond the cage, but there beyond the fence was a rolling bin like he’d described.

“That’s it,” he pointed when I came up beside him, “The books I wanted to show you.”

I closed the space between myself and the cage, peering into the bin through the links. It was full to the brim with books, most with tattered covers. They looked like they might have been headed for an incinerator, but they also had some beautiful leather covers and ornate script along their cracked bindings, though it was too dark to make out what they said. I smiled, momentarily forgetting the weirdness of the situation, and searched the fence for an entryway, but there was a padlock on the chain-link door.

“Well, these are cool,” I offered, “It sucks they’re probably going to be destroyed.”

Nick came up next to me and pulled out his flip phone–old, even for those days–and pressed buttons furiously, “That’s not all. I took this to show you in case you couldn’t come by.”

He pulled up a picture, low resolution and shadowed on his tiny screen, but I could tell it was one of the books, lying open on top of the pile. I glanced at the bin again on the other side of the cage, nowhere near close enough for him to have gotten the shot, and what was more, none of the books were open. Looking back at the photo, I could see text on one page, and a drawing on the other, but it was quite blurry.

“I thought–”

“Shh!” I cut him off, snapping my head toward the cage. Something there, in the space beyond the light, had moved.

We were both silent, and I stared unblinking beyond the fence. It had been a subtle sound, a gentle sliding of material against itself, but distinct enough in the quiet of the hall’s sub basement to catch my attention. I held my breath standing there, trying to keep my mind from conjuring up all sorts of imagined visions and sounds in the darkness. I saw nothing, I heard nothing, but what I felt to this day I can barely explain. It was a bit like the feeling you might have gotten when you were little, immediately after one of those old tube televisions were turned off. The static is still there, radiating out into the room as it dissipates. I could feel the static of whatever had been there until its energy was gone.

I nudged Nick and gestured to the door. He said nothing, but backed up toward it, both of us still staring into the shadows until we fumbled back out into the hall. My heartbeat quickened as we scurried to the stairwell. Nick swiped his badge and the panel lit up green. As he pulled the door open, I glanced back because, well, I’m a fucking idiot, I guess.

In the blackness of the hall’s end, I saw it. In silhouette only, it stood there, taking up the space of the corridor unlike any human man could, its shoulders too near the ceiling, its chest too broad. It didn’t move to follow, but it stared after us with intent. I didn’t need to see its eyes to know it was looking right into me. And my first and only thought was, Not again.

We thundered up the stairs and let the fire door slam behind us. Nick turned to me to say something, but before he could get a word out I interrupted him. “Don’t go back down there!”

He took a few deep breaths and scratched the back of his neck, “Oh, uh, okay?”

“Promise me!”

I barely remember lunging forward and grabbing his shirt, but his hands were on my wrists and he tipped his face low to be near mine. “Okay, okay, I promise!”

Nick was a bad liar, but he turned out to be worse at keeping promises.

Blogoween Day 9 – True Terror Tuesday: Sleep Paralysis

blogoween ttt

Last night I experienced the minutest amount of weirdness as I was dozing off, and it brought back all the fear and horror that I experienced years ago when it seemed like almost every night I was having night terrors, false awakenings, and sleep paralysis.

So last night I posted Vacancy very late, like 11:48 late, but I had to get it out on Monday! I’m a terrible procrastinator, I know, but because of that I went to bed much later than normal. My sleep schedule has been a little fucky lately, but for the most part I go to bed pretty early, so I’m under no impression that that didn’t have something to do with what happened to me last night.

You know how sometimes when you have your eyes closed and something moves in front of your face you can still see its shadow? Since our eyelids aren’t blackout curtains, some light gets through. Well, this is what happened to me last night just as I was drifting off at around 12:15. A black shadow, blacker than the rest of the blackness, like vanta-mother-fucking-black passed through my eyes-closed vision. I immediately opened my eyes because my first thought was “Oh, no, the cat’s on the headboard and he’s trying to claw my nose off.” I wasn’t scared, just annoyed. But the cat wasn’t there, and then I got a little nervous: What was that then? I thought.

It got worse though when I realized that the light trick wasn’t even possible. I was struck with that realization in a heart-sinking way. It was just too dark in the room. My eyes had adjusted to make out the outline of things, the end of the bad, the doorway, the clothes basket, but when I closed my eyes again and waved my hand in front of my face, there was nothing.

I felt immediately very nervous. However sleepy I might have been moment earlier vanished, and I was on high alert. The shadows in the room started contorting in my mind, my breath got a little shorter, and my discomfort level was through the roof. I then told myself to chill: obviously I was just falling asleep, that was a shadow of a dream, it was ultimately nothing, and after who knows how long I eventually fell asleep.

And in comparison to 2014-15-ish, it was nothing. That would have been a night I would have considered a success.

I used to suffer from a whole host of horrifying sleep issues a few years ago. When I was in high school and even more so in college I had borderline insomnia. It didn’t help that I’ve always been afraid of the dark and used to sleep with the TV on, and I’m sure glimpses of whatever plays at 2am sneaked their way into my sleeping brain back then. I’d stay up freakishly late, pass out for a few hours, then get up at an ungodly hour when my mom would start rattling around in the bathroom about an hour or so before I really needed to get up myself. But the teen/early 20s body is a marvel and I survived.

A few years went by where I was mostly okay, and then I put on some weight (and I’m sure some kind of apnea came with the weight gain), spiraled into a little depression, and my sleep went to total shit. I was working at a job I hated, and I was tired a lot, and we all know sleep is this vicious cycle where you can never really catch up. I napped in my car at work on lunch, and I tried to go to bed early, but basically did nothing because of my hours, commute, and chores. Dinner was the only time I relaxed, so I overindulged, put on more weight, and my sleep just got worse. Lather, rinse, repeat. Oh, and because my diet was such a mess I was having leg cramps that also woke me up in the middle of the night. I was a mess.

I was sure during the time that I was experiencing paranormal activity of some sort. Now, I’m not positive, but at the time, in the thick of it, I was terrified. Every night I’d wake up at some point with my heart racing. Sometimes I’d sit straight up and start screaming–those were Husband’s favorites. Other times I’d wake up pretty peacefully but groggily, get out of bed, start getting ready for the morning, and just be ready to go out the door when I’d find myself back in bed with my alarm going off. Those mornings were particularly unnerving because I started distrusting when I was awake, and I’d be extra tired when I’d finally actually get out of bed because I’d already done all this and just wanted to sleep.

But the sleep paralysis was the worst. I didn’t know there was a name for it back then, but I knew I was experiencing something not normal. Most occurrences involved a black, shadow figure at the side or foot of the bed. I would be unable to move or scream, but I tried. Sometimes the figure, usually freakishly tall and hooded with no discernible features, would start in the corner of the room or the doorway then would move closer to the bed in flashes. It neither glided nor stepped, it was just in one place and then another until it was close enough to touch me.

I don’t recall ever being touched or hurt beyond psychologically, but I had the knowledge (as you do in dreams) that this entity wanted something from me. I couldn’t tell you if my mind was conjuring a ghost or a demon or something entirely different, but it felt very wrong. Not even like when you’re in a potentially dangerous situation in real life and you you know something’s off, but wrong in the sense that the world around you is broken somehow.

Possibly the worst thing about sleep paralysis, and similar to the false awakenings, is that the rest of what you can see is so real and correct. When I recall most dreams, I can remember how a house I was in wasn’t a real place I’ve ever been or how a person I was talking to was an amalgamation of two or three people I know in real life. But with sleep paralysis, you look around the room and everything is exactly as it should be, the lighting is correct, even the sounds are right, but then there’s that one element, and it’s such a distortion juxtaposed against everything else that you’re sure it’s real, the world is broken, and you’re gonna die.

This went on for a couple years on and off. I became used to it, in a way, and I think that’s when I accepted it as paranormal. I never wasn’t afraid during these events, but I wasn’t afraid in anticipation of them. I hoped I’d have a dreamless, normal night, but was resigned to the fact it wasn’t likely.

The cycle broke a couple years ago when my job and health improved. I got a hold of my life and got my sleep back on track. I ate well, worked out, forced myself to be happy, and everything sorted itself out. We also moved from one house to another, and my issues dropped off significantly after that move, so as much as I realize my issues were likely biological, I can’t help but think there was something else afoot during that time. I was clearly depressed, so I was open to negative energies and discordant forces, and maybe that house–which I knew came with a bit of a history of misery–had something to do with it.

I’ll never know for sure, but I’m very happy to be free of that nonsense now, shadows be damned.

Blogoween Day 7 – An Introspection or Why Do I Love Spooky Stuff?

blogoween

“Hey, kid, why are you so into all this macabre shit?”

That’s what my uncle asked me two years ago just about this, the spookiest, time of year. It really struck me for two reasons: 1) it’s a very funny combination of words, and 2) wtf, for real @me “Why??”

Mostly people don’t ask me why I like spooky things, they just accept it when we meet. But my uncle’s known me my entire life, albeit on an off, so when we saw one another for the first time in many, many years, and I expressed so much excitement about ghosts and witches and the undead, he actually asked. And I didn’t have an answer.

So I’ve been thinking about it since then–yes, actually for two years–and I still don’t really have a good answer. I thought maybe there would be some triggering moment in my childhood or one aspect of Halloween that really dug its claws into me, but there seems to be no one thing. I’ve attempted an intro-spook-tion, if you will, but don’t get excited for a conclusion.

Halloween is, in many ways, the last bastion of imagination for adults. As an only child, I used my imagination a lot when I was kid.

AD Alone Always
Don’t worry, I enjoy it immensely.

And I didn’t really let it go when I grew up. I’m a big fan of “what if” now. It’s not a particularly useful characteristic when you’ve got anxiety (it actually might be a core component), but it does make life more interesting. My what ifs aren’t always “what if I trip in front of these strangers and am then forced to relive that moment of embarrassment every night before falling asleep for the rest of my life?” sometimes they’re “what if my pharmacist with the long blond hair and pronounced canines who always works evenings shifts is a vampire and is developing a pill to replace the vampiric need for blood?” or “what if when I go into this completely empty public restroom and all the sound is shut out I really have entered into another dimension and when I go back out I’m in a different *timeline?”

Halloween makes those what ifs not exactly possible but more people seem to entertain them in their own minds. So ultimately, I’m less weird for a short time every year, and that feels kinda nice.

Speaking of being a kid and also a total fucking weirdo, I’ve always had a strange relationship with my own emotions. I guess, really, everyone does, so maybe this isn’t unique, but I feel like I’ve been on this roller coaster my whole life where for a few months or years I was a complete slave to whatever my tiny mammal brain decided I was going to feel, and then there would be a span of time that I was so in control of my feelings that I would barely be able to experience them at all. I’ve come to find that throughout all that, fear has been the only constant. I can’t step back from it and analyze it. I can reason with myself when I’m feeling almost every other emotion, but fear happens to you in a way that the others don’t. Fear is sudden and, frankly, reliable.

And fear makes you forget everything else. You can’t worry about the distant future when you’re concerned with surviving the next ten seconds as you run up the stairs from the basement, you know?

But why ghosts and goblins and zombies and skellies? Honestly, no fucking clue, dude. The supernatural has always been such a draw to me. I guess I look at the world, and it’s so damn boring and like, I KNOW it’s just like how it is, right? I believe in science, I would like to believe there’s a cool place you go when you die or you get another chance at life, but I know logically that probably not (don’t get me wrong, I’m holding out hope, Dear Reader, I’m just sadly able to rationalize a lot of it away). But having these fun concepts and these things that people have believed in a feared across cultures and millennia as an active part of my life just feels…right?

Modern American life is so sterile. I don’t think this is necessarily bad, it’s actually great that things are clean, and we’re very aware of the way the world around us works, and yes I am incredibly privileged and lucky to be safe and healthy and surrounded by opportunity. But doesn’t that just all lend itself to a longing for something…mysterious? Something dark?

Something…spooky?

 

*I used to think I should come up with a code phrase to use with Husband for the timeline situation; however, I’ve figured that it’s quite likely the code word would be the same across most dimensions because if I am in an instance where I think I’ve fucked off into the wrong dimension, but it’s only a feeling and everything else appears to be the same, it would be INCREDIBLY coincidental that the only difference would be the code word which ultimately nullifies the code word.