The thing about having the shit scared out of you is this…it happens in broad daylight. In plain sight. There’s no build up, no orchestra playing, no Goblin soundtrack, no Tubular Bells. Not even that annoying piano thing John Carpenter wrote for Halloween that still makes the hairs stand on my neck. It just happens. The haunting might be no more than a whiff of perfume or smoke, a flicker in the corner of your eye, but there it was.
The tension that builds from that moment on is your own doing. Everything becomes suspect. Did I leave that door open? Is it drafty in here? Am I making that chair levitate with my brain power? Is that foul odor coming from the toothed apparition floating in front of me or did I just forget to take the trash out again?
See, that’s where the movies get you: Clues.
There are hints dropped left and right in films. They show you the spooky mansion. They show you the overdressed British man holding walking through its halls with a lit candle. They show you the old man or the old woman who knows something you don’t. They show you the back story about the ancient burial ground or the grave of the unknown evil druid. They show you the killings that happened in that spot every twenty-seven years. They show you the black cat that you just know is going to jump out from some shadowy place later. They close up on the telephone a split second before it rings so you can jump out of your skin and then yell “CHEAP!” Or, they show you a young woman in little or no clothing, usually soaping up in the shower as something looms, hazy beyond its frosted glass or translucent curtain.
But the real hauntings happen in regular living rooms, apartment buildings, grocery stores, video game rental and trade in shops, gas station bathrooms. It doesn’t need to be a church or a gothic location; it doesn’t need to be a cabin in the woods of Michigan.
The real hauntings happen during the day, during the afternoon, in the morning, at midnight…not solely after the sun goes down. The real ones grab you when you’re taking a dump or pouring a bowl of cereal or while you’re trying to scratch that place on your back no one can reach without the aid of some cornerbead or a stick of some type.
I imagine at first they aren’t scary. At first you don’t know what you’re seeing, smelling, tasting—witnessing. At first you shake it off or ignore it completely. At first it was a speck of dust in your eye, a headlight from outside, your hangover, that bud you smoked. At first it wasn’t there…but it was.
It was there...and the harder you look for it to come back again, the more you will see. Until it eats you.