Thursday, 10 October 2013

WordPress Daily Prompt: Fright Night

Do you like being scared by books, films, and surprises? Describe the sensation of being scared, and why you love it — or don’t. 

Photographers, artists, poets: show us FRIGHTENING.

Funnel Spider in garden

It is amazing what a little bit of photo shopping can do to a photo of a normal funnel spider just living his life in his cosy little funnel, not caring about eating humans, just hoping that a small innocent unsuspecting insect might cross his funnel path. Was I frightened? I was just a little frightened that he might disappear before I did this Pulitzer award suspecting photo, but he stayed, so here he is waving one of his many legs in a hello gesture.

Scared by a book or film? Those were the days when my mind still found a prickly nagging haunt after seeing it all on the TV. I remember one of the first ever horror films to be shown was called “The Face at the Window”. I think every time it was on the TV I had reserved my place behind the chair, just in case. It was a gruesome face they showed. I had a look in Internet and found the film. I think today it would probably credit a belly laugh. I watched an English TV series known as Quatermass, they even made a cinema film. It was OK, but these things get so quickly out of date. There was a company making the so-called Hammer Horror Films. They had Draculas, monsters, lots of artificial blood and specially designed pointed white incising teeth made of plastic. I was a teenager and just loved those films. It was in, the thing to do. I think Christopher Lee was immortalised in these films.

Reality is always more scary.

I grew up in a very old house with no modern conveniences. Toilet in the garden where you shared it with a population of very big spiders, hoping they would no move at the wrong moment, whilst sitting on a very old wooden throne. I had a bedroom to myself. The old gas fittings for lamps, before the days of electricity, were still present on the wall. Central heating did not exist. Originally there were places for lighting an open fire, burning coal. Dad had closed them all in as electric plug-in fires became popular: no longer hard work preparing a layer of paper, then wood and eventually coal. At night in the bedroom you had no heating, just 2-3 blankets and an eiderdown, so you buried yourself into the depths and fell asleep: lying in bed listening to perhaps raindrops outside, noise from a nearby TV.

Then you hear a scratching noise: a light regular scratching noise. It would stop from time to time and you kept your fingers crossed under the bedcovers hoping it would go away. It can make a frightening impression on a 10 year old, even on a 12 year old. I cannot remember how old I was. In the morning I awoke and everything was in its place, I had survived. The next evening I was put to bed, just dropping off to sleep and the scratching began again.

What to do? Tell mum, tell dad. When you live with a slightly neurotic mother and a dad that worked day and night shift you learnt to keep quiet about some things. No good making more excitement than necessary. Eventually I gave in to fear and told mum and dad, something was scratching behind the boards in front of the fire place.

“No chance, it is your imagination, forget it”. I did my best to forget it. As I grew older I discovered what it probably was, or could be. Was it an unknown ghost of an earlier inhabitant of the house buried under the floorboards, perhaps a vampirical descendent that only appeared on moonlitnights. No, it was most probably, definitely, a mouse. My mother had a hysterical fear of mice. Tell her you see a mouse somewhere and you are lucky if she does not faint, so you then have two problems: the mouse and mum. I eventually decided that the mouse was the least of my worries and so I kept quiet about it. I did tell dad, and he also agreed about it being a mouse family, but said there was not very much he could do. He could remove the boards from the old fire place which lead to a chimney, probably causing an avalanche of soot to descend, so we left it.

With time I either got used to the scratching noises, or the mouse family died, peraps moved to better pastures: One of the memories of a childhood long gone. Am I frightened of mice? No, I never have been, just things that go scratch in the night.

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  1. I can remember being scared by some movies and TV shows as a child, but as an adult there has rarely been a book or a movie that genuinely gave me the creeps. The last time a book did that was Stephen King's 'It'. It reawakened memories of things that had scared me as a child, because the story looked at things from the viewpoint of a group of children (and again when they are adults). It did raise the hair on the back of my neck a few times. The last time a movie scared me in even the slightest bit was way back in 1983. The movie was 'Poltergeist'. Again, it was the awakening of memories of things that scared me as a child. I think they are the most effective one. Most modern 'horror' movies just don't move me at all because all they seem to be interested in is body-count. Boring.

    1. I find the easiest stories to write are the horror/ghost stories. You can let your imaginations run wild, no holds barred and write anything you want to write.