Imaginary Fear

You know that feeling when it’s late and you’re tired.  You know the one.  You just got back home from being with your friends.  You stayed out all night and watched a bunch of horror movies.  Or maybe you’ve been up the past few hours reading creepy stories in a book or on your computer screen.  You know it’s all silly and you had a good time.  You’ve entertained yourself and now it’s time for bed.

You’re at home by yourself like every night, but now your imagination is working overtime and your senses are heightened.  Those little sounds that you don’t normally notice; you now hear every one of them.  The little glints of light and reflections that you never paid any mind to before are now only fueling your imagination.  An imagination that is currently writing and telling you stories which you do not need to hear right now.

You walk into the kitchen and shut off the lights and can’t help but glance over at the window.  Is something out there?  Nah.  That’s silly kids stuff.  You laugh it off and go through the living room turning out the lights and as you do, you feel a slight need to take a glance over your shoulder.  What are you nervous of?  You do this every single night.  Why is tonight any different?

You laugh and shake your head thinking to yourself about how foolish you’re acting and that you need to get to sleep before work.  Walking into the bathroom, you grab your toothbrush and toothpaste and begin brushing your teeth as if everything is back to normal.  But then you look in the bathroom mirror.  In it you see a dark area.  Maybe it’s the bathroom closet or perhaps a reflection of another room through the doorway.  And though you know damn well that nothing is there, you still feel as though you can see something in that dark area through your mirror and you can’t help but slowly take a look over your shoulder just to make sure.

Goodness, what the hell is wrong with you?  Are you actually starting to believe your imagination?  You spit the toothpaste into the sink and laugh again, only this time it’s more forced.  Then you let out a nervous chuckle at yourself.  This is ridiculous.  You can’t help but laugh at the sheer absurdity of forcing yourself to laugh to calm your fears.  But then you catch a glimpse of one of those dark areas again.  The closet.  The kitchen.  It makes no difference.  What ever area that catches your eye, it sends chills through your body and you don’t know why.

As you leave the bathroom, you pause at the door and hold your finger over the light switch, staring at whatever direction happens to be the way to your bed, perhaps even taking a slow look around your surroundings.  When you’re ready, you flip the switch and a make kind of awkward half run, half walk towards your bedroom, perhaps accompanying it with some awkward sounds of fear and maybe a bit of giggle as if to reassure yourself that there’s nothing there, yet you still move with haste anyways.  Depending on the type of person you are, you may stop at the bedroom doorway or keep moving.  Either way, the result is always the same.  You never actually crawl into bed or even really get near it like you normally do.  You kind of leap into the bed so your feet aren’t within any reaching distance from the bottom of the bed.  You know there’s nothing under there, but your imagination says otherwise.

As soon as you’re in the bed, you quickly pull the covers up high and, if your bed is against a wall, you roll against it, back to the rest of the room.  Hopefully, your pillow hasn’t fallen onto the floor.  You really don’t want to have to reach down to get it.  You just want to go to sleep and let your imagination pass.  And you try to go to sleep, perhaps attempting to think happy thoughts.  If your imagination will let you.  But what if, what if it wasn’t your imagination acting up?  What if there really was something there?  What if you shouldn’t go to sleep?

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Nothing to be Afraid of

Such a peaceful relaxing night it’s been. Sitting there at your desk digging away through the splendors of the internet; or perhaps you’re sitting upon your bed or a comfy chair sloughing through a good book. It doesn’t really matter what it is you’re doing at the moment. You could be working on a puzzle for all that matters. The point is that it’s an incredibly peaceful night. And it’s these nights, my friend, that are the most fear inducing.

No, it’s not those stormy nights like the books always tell tales about. The crash of thunder, the flashes of lightning, and the loud pats of rainfall are all joys to the mind that reassure it everything will be alright. No, my dear friend, it’s those quiet peaceful nights that cause the greatest fear, the most internal panic. At least with a storm you know something is happening, but not with a peaceful night. No. Those are the nights where upon you finishing your activity whatever it may be, your mind suddenly becomes aware of the nothing that is going on.

Take for instance this very thing you are reading right now. Chances are that you are reading this on your monitor late in the evening, perhaps with some other creepy tales you’ve found on the world-wide web. Perhaps time has passed and this has somehow made its way to the Kindle or print format. Whatever format your current fancy, I believe it is safe to assume that you were most likely bored and decided to read some tales to tickle your imagination. What you may not have noticed is that the odds are in favor of it being an unexpectedly peaceful night.

Sure, you may sit up and take notice out the window at this very instant and hear the conversations of passersby or the sounds of rain and thunder. You laugh as think to yourself, “Ah-ha! But you are wrong Mr. Storyteller. It is indeed a normal evening.” And you, sir, would be a fool. It is not the now when you shall notice the nothing, but the then.

As you continue to read, your mind will slowly, but surely, begin to forget the words that I have just laid before you moments ago. Perhaps it will be by the end of this warning or perhaps you will read a few more stories. Perhaps it may be an evening where you are performing another quiet but solitary activity, but mark my words, by the time you are done you will forget and then you shall notice the nothing.

I can tell you precisely when it will happen, too! It will happen when you are finished reading and decide to retire for the evening. It will happen when you turn off your monitor, power down your Kindle, or close your book. That is when you will notice the nothing. Not a sound will come from the outside. Not the sound of rain, nor wind, nor automobile, nor man, nor cricket. If there are street lights at your home, they will either work perfectly or not at all. Not a flicker nor moving shadow shall be seen from them. Creaky floor boards and pipes will be unusually silent unless you are the one to cause them to do so with heavy footsteps or a turn of the faucet.

You’ll probably go into the bathroom to brush your teeth, but the nothing that you have now perceived has caused your mind to panic, looking for things that aren’t there and listening intently for even the slightest of noises. As you turn on the faucet, it seems so loud. It should be comforting, but the knowledge of the nothing has caused your brain to panic and now the normal comfort of the sound of rushing water serves only to distract you from it. You turn it off and brush your teeth, watching the mirror with suspicion. You will freeze slightly under the feeling that you may see something from the other room in the reflection watching you.

You’ll laugh and tell yourself there is nothing there. And you would be right. Nothing is there. Nonetheless, you’ll rinse with relative quickness just in case. After perhaps doing any other bathroom business, you will make your way through the home making sure all the doors are locked and all the lights are out. And though you know for certain that nothing is there, your brain tells you that something is there in the nothing and as such, you have to look anyhow. Every window, every open closet, and the space between the bed and the floor is carefully eyed with cautious diligence. Just in case.

Getting into bed, you’ll probably chuckle about how silly you’re being. It’s just your mind acting up from reading ghost stories all night. But wait…you weren’t reading ghost stories this time were you? You were reading Huck Finn. Or where you up all night working on your taxes? It doesn’t matter. The point is, you could have been doing anything when you noticed the nothing.

You will get to sleep relatively quickly. Sure, you may be on edge a bit, but the nothing won’t keep you awake and you’re tired. In the morning you will wake up refreshed, most likely forgetting how unnatural the nothing was the night before. Or if you do remember it, you’ll probably have a good laugh of it with your friends and share a few stories.

The scientists say these incidents are our minds just playing little tricks on us and they would be right most of the time. Yet as disconnected as we may be, we cannot be fully separated from nature and everyone knows, albeit subconsciously, that nothing is completely unnatural. What if one night you were to learn that there really is nothing to be afraid of?