You might not know this about me, but I have a wildly overactive imagination and I'm afraid of everything. I used to think that I could never live alone because I would spend all my time taking running jumps onto the bed to avoid the monsters grabbing from underneath, locking and barricading the bathroom doors when I was taking a shower, and making sure all the lights were on all the time. I used to lie awake night after night, terrified of every toy and picture in my room. I even tried my hand at a couple of horror stories, because I liked to write and I enjoyed reading the really good scary stories, the ones that would keep me awake nights - and I managed to scare myself even more.
Sometime in the last decade or so, I managed to get over a lot of my fear. I chalk much of this up to my realization that reading Clive Barker and Stephen King was not likely to help me feel more secure, and consequently cutting horror out of my regular reading material. But it was hard, because there is something truly compelling about a master horror tale, the kind that manages to tap into your earliest memories of fears, the shapeless things that go bump in the night.
Every so often, I find myself yearning for the thrill that this type of fear brings. Usually, I distract myself with other things, and I manage not to go down that road. More often, I end up watching something scary on t.v., fully believing that it is silly enough not to affect me. The more I watch, though, the more I feel my sense of the world changing, not unlike the opening credits for that old t.v. show, "The Darkside," in which you see an idyllic pastoral view shift into a gloomy nightmare scene.
I was never much interested in zombies. I thought the whole idea was stupid, even boring, and I didn't get why so many people seemed to find them so frightening. Granted, I was unable to watch "Night of the Living Dead" because it wigged me out, but I figured that had more to do with the creepiness of the first 10 minutes and not so much with the zombie concept. I saw "28 Days Later," and "Land of the Dead" (the second was much better than the first, I think), and by the time I saw "Land" I was ready to grudgingly admit that zombies could be kind of interesting, after all. I saw several others that I don't remember the names of, and I saw others I do remember, like "I am Legend," "Dawn of the Dead," "Shaun of the Dead" (silly AND scary) and "30 Days of Night," which is a vampire movie, but it is set up like a zombie movie (with pretty good results).
Then I started to dream about zombies.
The thing is, the zombie concept isn't what's so scary. What's scary is the notion of being at war with the majority of the populace and not having nearly the weapons or numbers that they do. I found myself waking up at night wondering if I'd locked the door, and what I would do if there really *were* zombies, and whether or not the locked doors would hold them out and if they could climb to our second-story windows to get in.
The idea of zombies made me feel vulnerable in a way that many of the other scary creatures did not - those other things were scary in a "this could never happen, but what if it did?" way, while the zombies were scary in a "just suppose the neighborhood wanted to come and get me - what then?" kind of way.
And so I've added a new fear to my list of sharks, Cthulu, dolls that live, killer clowns, and whatever might be hiding in the poorly-lit garage that still urges me, somewhat unconsiously, to park my car on the street. I managed to go out and find myself something new to be afraid of.