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The Need for Fear

There is a lot of scary stuff going on in the world right now. In some ways, Halloween seems silly. Why would any one want to be scared on purpose? Why would we want to celebrate this day? There is real horror in the world and no scary movie about a serial killer, or ghost, or other deadly creature is going to capture the real horrors of this world. I believe it was H.P. Lovecraft who said, “The oldest and deepest emotion humans have is fear. The oldest and deepest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

We fear what we don’t know or understand.

I do agree that horror provides a safe environment for us to be scared. Heck, my last post was all about horrific stories and how much I loved them. I can read the story and think, Man that is messed up. But then I close the book and the story stays there in the fictional world. I may think about it, but all the while I know it is not real. Same with movies. I can watch a scary movie and when it is over it stays in the fictional world.

Most of the time.

Every now and then, something will stick with me and I can’t get it out of my head. I have a near photographic memory, so when I remember something, it never goes away. (Blessing and a curse, people.) I can watch hours and hours of Criminal Minds on reruns, but I have never seen one episode of The Walking Dead. I just can’t do zombie stuff. Probably the only zombie movie I liked was Shaun of the Dead, because it was funny. But I didn’t watch it all the way through. I even watched World War Z, but they weren’t really zombies, so I didn’t feel the same. Even so, I watched through my fingers.

Zombies hit upon a real fear of mine. The idea that we are all mindless beings destined to consume. We are all monsters underneath the veil of civilization. Yeah, it gets to me. I know they are not real. I know in all reality civilization is going to last a good long time. But I still can’t put it in the “fiction” part of my brain. There was a really bad Will Smith movie a few years ago, I am Legend. Remember? There is this moment in the movie that I just can’t forget. It’s not the monsters chasing him, or when the dog died (so sad!). The part that sticks with me is early on in the movie. Smith’s character is putting his wife and daughter on a helicopter to get out of the city. Standing in line is a woman begging him to let her go too. She says, “Please. I’m not sick. I’m not sick.” But she is sick and a thin line of blood drips down her face as she begs him.

That denial. That is what scares me.

There could be a monster within us all, and we are in denial about it. So, no zombies for me. Although recently I tried to write through this fear. I tried writing a story that was a post apocalyptic with zombies and everything.

And I failed miserably.

I just can’t do it yet. I’m not sure why, but it’s not in me. I liked the story that came out. It’s a funny, somewhat sad, and a little dark, story set in LA. But society is not gone. People are not gone. Life is different, but the world keeps turning. I hope to sell it one day, but not to a zombie market.

I’ve been in plenty of scary situations. There was that time it was raining and I was going way too fast on the highway. I took one of the most dangerous exits and damn near flipped my car over. (Thank God, they have changed that exit a few years ago.) Or there was the time when I was on campus as an undergrad and a rattlesnake jumped out in front of me. And then there was the time my car battery died in the parking lot after I got out of class… Hey, I’m okay. I made it through all these scary moments.

My point is that fear in real life is okay too. It is a natural emotion and I don’t think ignoring it is healthy. Halloween can be used to sharpen that emotion in a safe way. After all, the world is still turning and there are plenty of things to fear. Screaming your head off in a movie can be cathartic for some. I know reading creepy stories is for me.

So Happy Halloween folks.

And on November 1st, let’s try and make the world a little better.