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Wayback Wednesday: Stay Out of the Attic!

Stay Out of the Attic!

Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2004

On Wednesdays, rather than rehashing a news story, I reprint one of my old columns. I've got 15 years' worth of the damn things, so there's no point in letting them sit moldering in a box in my garage. At least not the good ones. This one is from October 2004, but is actually a reprint from 2001.

Ever since I was a small boy, I've always had strong feelings when it comes to scary movies.

I hate them.

They scare the bejeezus out of me. Whenever I make the stupid mistake of watching one, I have nightmares, I jump at strange sounds, and all the monsters -- including the shark from "Jaws" -- are waiting for me under my bed. It doesn't matter whether I'm at home (the monsters are in my closet), at a friend's house (they're in his closet), or at the movie theater (they're hiding in the popcorn).

And yet no one takes me seriously. Just a few weeks ago, my wife, my sister-in-law, and her husband badgered me into seeing "The Others," the Nicole Kidman-Tom Cruise pre-divorce production, and they promised me "it wasn't so bad."

"The Others" is a "supernatural suspense thriller" about a young mother (Nicole Kidman) and her children (two pasty-faced English kids) who live in a house on the Channel Islands. The kids believe there are ghosts in the house, and Kidman gradually realizes they may just be right. So one reviewer called it "the scariest thriller of the year."

"The scariest thriller of the year!" I griped to my wife, the following week. "You made me see the scariest thriller of the year."

At the time, I begged and pleaded not to go. I swore up and down I didn't like scary movies. "'Supernatural thrillers' is just a polite way of saying 'horror flicks!' " I sobbed. But I was outvoted and scared out of my wits.

When we got home, I turned on every light in the house, and made sure I was the first one in bed, so my wife had to turn all the lights off herself. I hoped the monsters would mistake her for me and get her instead, but their sense of smell is uncanny. That, and she was carrying her shotgun.

The last time I watched a scary movie was August 1989, 12 hours before I was supposed to start graduate school. I hadn't seen a horror movie for several years, and thought I was old enough to handle "The Shining." I told myself, "I'm 21 years old, I'm a college graduate, so I should be smart enough and mature enough to watch 'The Shining.' "

If horror movies scared you as a kid, they'll scare you when you're an adult.

As one would expect, I had nightmares that night, and woke up in a sweat, covers pulled up to my chin. I slowly pulled the covers back with my feet, convinced the monsters were under my bed, and did the unthinkable: I opened my eyes.

As I opened my eyes, I saw something hovering several feet above me. It was a small white blob, about 12 inches across. Of course, my eyesight is so bad without my glasses, it could have been the Queen Mum, and she still would have looked like a blob. However, since it was 4:00 in the morning, I knew there shouldn't be anything hovering several feet above me, Queen Mum or not.

I was convinced I was either seeing a disembodied head or a small ghost, and I couldn't look away. I had made eye contact, which is a major no-no in dealing with monsters.

The thing just hovered there, waiting for me to try to escape, so it could pounce, and drain away my life's energy. I laid there for several minutes, aware that my heart was beating faster, I was sweating profusely, and if I didn't get to the bathroom fast, I was going to have a bigger problem than just having my lifeforce sucked out by the Queen Mum.

As time passed, I began to remember the setting of the room, the various items my sister had left there from years past, and it suddenly hit me: I wasn't looking at the Queen Mum at all! It was just a stupid Winnie the Pooh mobile my sister had when as a baby. I had been lying there for 30 minutes, trying not to wet myself, waiting to be pounced on by Winnie the Pooh and his friends!

I stormed out of the bed, stomping on several monster hands, and went to the bathroom. Afterward, I was still too scared to go back to sleep, so I watched infomercials until it was time to leave. And until I was dragged to The Others, it was the last time I ever watched a horror movie.

But as soon as I get my own shotgun, I'll watch as many as I want.


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