Tuesday, October 24, 2006

What scares you? Had any horrific Halloween-worthy happenings?

I don’t mean your fear that Kodos & Kang will win the election next month. Or a near-death experience when you almost choked on a piece of pickled herring. Or even the time you were traumatized after accidentally seeing Aunt Sylvia in her skivvies.

I’m talking about those really spine-chilling moments from your real life. The kind of eerie episodes you expect only to occur in a horror movie, yet you actually experienced ‘em. Which freaked you out at the time, but in retrospect, you realize you’d just been reading too much Edgar Allan Poe.

One of these occasions was when I haunted by a hellhound in Spain, as I’ve described earlier. I learned my lesson: Never intrude on the domain of a demonic dog. And find out how to say pepper spray and holy water en español.

Here’s a few other scary scenes:

When I was a teenager, for some reason, my friend and I were roaming around upstate New York one night. We wound up at one of those Catskill resorts, which may have been abandoned since the heyday of the Borscht Belt. Or maybe it was still in full swing, but everyone staying there was asleep at 2AM. Or… murdered. Okay, we were letting our imaginations get away with us, but the place had a weird musty smell and a Camp Crystal Lake vibe. Plus we couldn’t find a living soul there. We went from building to building looking for someone, but most of the rooms were locked. I finally found one I could open, and as the door creaked ajar, I saw strewn across the floor -- a pile of doll parts. Plastic arms, legs, torsos and heads. Pieces of those creepy dolls with the eyes that close when they’re lying down, but hold up Talking Tina and her eyes open to stare at you lifelessly. I did want to discern what the dismembered dollies were doing there, but I was no dummy. It was too fucking freaky. When my friend asked why I quickly shut the door again, I just said, “Dude, we’re outta here.”

Also in my teenage years, I used to baby sit my neighbor’s kid. I’ve also mentioned before how I wound up unintentionally terrorizing the tyke with my Skeletor skit. Perhaps the universe gave me some petrifying payback. Little Russell was asleep and his parents came home just as I finished another chapter of the novel Christine. The premise of a killer car is kinda crazy, but Stephen King has a way of making it work. It’s in the details, like his description of the murdermobile resting in the garage after running over a few people, the metal body clicking as the engine cooled… I was still thinking about it as Russell’s parents paid me for my babysitting duties. Since I lived across the street, there was no need for them to drive me home. So as I started to walk outside, I heard their car, back from their evening out, making that same cooling, clicking noise. The sound scared the shit outta me. Granted, they didn’t drive a ’58 Plymouth -- more like an ’83 Volvo -- but you bet your ass I booked it back home in less than 60 seconds.

Going back home was the setting for yet another incident. Except it was a few years ago, here in Santa Monica. I was walking with my sister early one autumn evening. The setting sun cast a weird light on a wilted flowering bush. I pointed and asked my sister if she thought that branch over there kinda looked like a claw. She didn’t see it, so brought her closer so she’d get a better view of the plant’s gnarled appendage. That’s when the entire bush started shaking, like it had come to life and was reacting violently to our presence. The claw shook as if it belonged to an evil witch casting a spell. Now, I admit, I jumped back, startled, but that was it. My sister, on the other hand, shrieked. Not just once, but over and over, a bloodcurdling scream: “Aahhh! Aahhh! Aahhh!” She didn’t stop until the source of the shivering shrub was revealed -- a tiny sparrow. The bird must have roosted in the bush and got nervous when we approached it. But as it tried to fly away, it got caught in all the intertwined twigs. As the sparrow finally flitted off, I explained this all to my sister and calmed her down. Then I had to chew her out -- that bizarre moment wasn’t half as scary as her Fay Wray impression. Jesus, she nearly gave me a heart attack. Of course, according to my sister, this was all my fault. “What the hell are you doing,” she said, “pointing out a tree branch that looks like a friggin’ claw?”


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