Saturday, October 30, 2010
"Aren't you glad you didn't turn on the light?"
In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I'd share one of the most frightening experiences I can remember. Now, I have a higher than healthy number of phobias- clowns, sharks, spiders, failure. And I may, or may not, have seen a swirling dark mass on a stair landing lean toward me while I waited for my study buddy at her creepy off-campus apartment. (I ran like hell and didn't feel bad about it.)
But I think the only time I have been literally paralyzed by fear was my freshman year at Western Kentucky University. The first Scream movie had just come out and for some reason, my friends and I thought it would be brilliant to go see the movie and then tell each other every ghost story we knew, including some that supposedly happened on our campus. Now, my poor friend, Scott, spent the first 15 minutes of Scream with my fingernails buried in his forearm. I saw him today at a WKU Homecoming event and I'm pretty sure those half-moon shaped scars are still on his arm.
By the time we walked out of the movie, I was terrified. I was completely convinced that the Ghostface Killer was hiding behind a tree by my dorm, waiting to eviscerate me. And, sensing my fear like killer bees, my friends started telling me all of the standard campus urban legends:
The girl who used a ouija board in her room and is pulled through her bed by the angry ghost she accidentally summons.
The boy who runs down the hallway after a shower and slips into a open elevator shaft, and now his ghostly wet footprints remain on the floor.
The girl who ignores scratching at her door all night, only to find her friend dead outside her door, having scratched all night, mutely begging for help.
But the one that really stuck with me, was this:
One night, a girl returned to her dorm to find that her roommate was already asleep with the lights off. Trying to be considerate, she undressed in the dark and climbed into bed. The next morning, she woke up to find her door open, her roommate brutally murdered and a message scrawled in her roommate's blood - "Nighty night. Aren't you glad you didn't turn on the light?"
That story freaked me the hell out. Probably because my roommate at the time was a very light sleeper who had difficulty getting into a REM state. She had to have a completely dark room, no TV, no music, no talking, in order to fall asleep. Otherwise, she was a very nice, reasonable girl.
So that night, I come home from the movie and the lights were out. The room was silent. And my roommate was asleep.
I stood at the lightswitch for five minutes, completely unable to move, debating whether it would be worth it to invoke the wrath of my sleeping roommat, turn the light on and make sure there wasn't a psycho-killer lurking in my room with her corpse. I decided to man up, get into my PJs in the dark and get in bed... and then I laid there in the dark, imagining the killer's hand hovering over my chest, waiting to plunge the knife.
I was awake until nearly 4 in the morning.
It took me a few weeks to get over that stupid story. And then, the next semester, I started working at the student newspaper, which meant working until 2 or 3 in the morning some nights. And coming home to a dark, quiet room.
It was a very long semester.