Scary Stories

Posted: April 17, 2019 in Blog
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I have always been fascinated by scary tales, as I suspect are a vast majority of all of you. There seems an allure of the frightening, the unknown, especially in the controlled context of experiencing it as a form of entertainment. I felt the magic of it, the sense not only of something mysterious but also how such even came to be. But none of it ever actually scared me.

Even as a child, when I would read collections of dark folklore and ghost stories, none would scare me. Most of these were intended for children, but I would have presumed some measure of feeling fright. I’m not trying to say I was some incredibly courageous kid. Typically though, the things that scared me came from my own mind, and those generally at night when all was dark and quiet, and I was trying to get to sleep.

I had, of course, heard of Stephen King, though I had read nothing of his nor had I seen any of the movies available at the time. I wanted to, but my parents would not allow it. This also pre-dated the internet, so the methods of circumventing that control were much more limited. The whole idea of getting my hands on a Stephen King novel intrigued me. This built up the mystique, and I began to overplay it in my mind.

What if these were stories that would really scare me? Maybe I shouldn’t read them. My older sister got a hold of one novel, and I wondered if she might surreptitiously slip it to me when she was done. Would I want her to do that? I was really building this up, as if it were now some dark, creaky door, waiting to be opened, promising me new experiences, but did I really want them?

I don’t know what happened with that book. A part of me thinks my parents made sure to get it from my sister when she was done with. They knew I had a voracious appetite for consuming stories, and they worried over protecting us kids from scary things.

Finally, when I graduated high school and went off to college, I was able to go to the book store and buy whatever I wanted. Surely, I could have done so prior to this time, but myriad things happening in my life kept me from it. I was even writing horror short stories, and one of them was quite popular amongst my friends. One said it reminded them of something Stephen King would write. I was so proud, and yet, I still did not go out to the store and get any of his works. Until college.

I forget which novel of his I read first, but I began down the Stephen King trail, and once I did, I went at a quick pace. At some point, perhaps on my third or fourth novel, I realized that though I was thoroughly enjoying his work, none of it scared me. I then decided to read his short story collection Night Shift. “Jerusalem’s Lot”, “Graveyard Shift”, “The Mangler”, all good tales with frightening elements. I enjoyed them, but none scared me.

I eventually got to “The Boogeyman”. Another good one, full of the typical Stephen King weaving, but then, the end. Those of you who have read it know. I was living in a small apartment with that same older sister who had read the King novel those years ago. She was not home. It was night. I was in my small bedroom, which was labeled as a study on the floor plan. It had a tiny closet with double doors, and one of them was slightly ajar.

I stared at that open space, that vertical slit of darkness. The small lamp next to my bed would not penetrate it. I felt a creeping rise along my back and to my neck. I was scared.

I finally got up and shut the door and made sure it stayed close. I was an eighteen year old young man off at college, and I had finally experienced my first real fright from the written word. Leave it to Stephen King to lure me in, then catch me off guard.

Enjoy your readings, my friend, however they may affect you.



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