I used to love horror movies when I was young. I loved the feeling of my heart pounding in my chest, and my imagination whirling, looking for monsters within the dark corners of our home. I loved apocalyptic and dark, creepy movies that involved dreams; my favorites then were the “Nightmare on Elm Street” and the “Omen” series.
I was such a scaredy cat, so I had no idea why I kept watching films like these. I even made sure I had the proper atmosphere: lights are turned off, the airconditioner set at full, a bag of chips on my lap, and a thick cotton blanket around my shoulders.
Then when I got really scared, and I couldn’t sleep because I felt that someone was staring at me the second I closed my eyes, I’d creep into my younger brother’s bedroom and sleep at his feet. He’d try to kick me out (literally), but he never could; I’d be too stubborn and afraid. At some point, he’d let it go. He’d be too sleepy to care.
There was something about the warmth of another person’s body, even a foot, that made one less afraid. A certain comfort with numbers, I think. That if some thing ever came, at least we had a better chance of fighting it. Or someone could have a better chance of escaping. Or we could both die, but at least you’ll have someone with you.
My head reeled at the possible ways I could outthink my imaginary enemy. I’d walk into a room and scan possible weapons. A tennis racket? I could use that as a club. A couple of Mongol pencils? I could stab it in the eyes with that. A soft plush toy? Perhaps if I throw it really hard, it’ll be distracted, and I could run. Or maybe I could bribe the thing with it. Or I could trick the thing into believing the plush toy was alive. Dark creatures, according to a lot of movies, are stupid.
I once told my sister I saw a ghost in my bedroom. It was 3am, and I opened my eyes suddenly, inexplicably. And there it was. A faceless, old, pure white monstrosity floating at the feet of my bed. I closed my eyes and hoped I was hallucinating. When I opened my eyes again, it was gone. I wanted to run the hell out of there, but I decided not to. I turned on the TV and watched Nickelodeon instead.
That’s another tool I used to turn away monsters. Cartoons. I don’t know, I’ve always thought of them as a talisman that turned away evil creatures.
My sister told me I was probably hallucinating. I told her she’d be perfectly welcome to sleep in my room while I slept in hers. She never took up the offer.
When I told my parents about the white lady thing, they said that, in the place where my bedroom is now, there used to be a very old tree where, they said, lived an elemental. I thought that was cool. I didn’t see a ghost, I saw an elemental. It was like I had powers or something.
I never did see the white lady thing again. Sometimes I imagined her, at the corner of my sight, while reading or studying. But I’d always assumed it was just my imagination.
Then I moved out of the house, and the childish need I used to have to be scared out of my wits disappeared. Perhaps it was because I lived alone, and the idea that I could always sleep at another person’s feet when things got bad was simply not there anymore.