Believe it or not there are people who enjoy being scared spitless. They watch horror movies on dark and stormy nights and sit around telling ghost stories, they attend seances and listen to urban legends about hook hands hanging from car doors, that kind of stuff. They think gruesome and blood-curdling is fun.
I am not one of them.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I like murder and mayhem as much as the next guy. I like mysteries and thrillers and suspense, I do. But there’s a gamut, isn’t there, a spectrum? It runs from Murder She Wrote at one end to Stephen King at the other, from Nancy Drew to Alfred Hitchcock (the man who made it impossible to trust seagulls and take showers at night). As for me, I like the middle leaning toward Hitchcock.
As it turns out, though, I’m pretty good at terrifying my own self. And you can be, too. Seriously. All you need are:
1. A book about serial killers (fiction or non-fiction)
2. A windy night
3. A vivid imagination
I recommend Helter Skelter, the non-fiction account of creepy Charles Manson. Even though it’s been decades since I read it, I still remember how completely that book freaked me out. It was late, it was quiet, and I was deeply absorbed. Behind me, ice cubes settled and rattled in a glass. Well, the book flew, I screamed, and my rudely awakened roommate was rendered unblinking for hours after.
This weekend I had a similar experience, but with windy weather and loose window screens instead of ice cubes and gravity. Every creak in the night, every shadow on the wall, every sigh in the trees was all it took to transform my normally placid home into a haunted house of horrors. And me into a blithering fraidy-cat.
Which is different from the usual blithering idiot.
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