A hilarious thread on the intertubes recently explored things that frightened the contributors as a child - specifically something that was either intended for children, were seemingly innocuous, or was readily available to a youthful audience. The Brave Little Toaster popped up a lot, Jaws, and various incarnations of the Wizard of Oz that were not the one we all know and love. (In particular, the Disney sequel Return to Oz destroyed a lot of childhood psyches, and I recall at the time when working as a theater usher wondering what in the hell they were thinking when they made this little walk through nightmare planet. Check it out when the kids aren't around.)
The things that really tweaked my bolts as a kid were the wolf man (1941 original), the mummy (1932 original) which probably wouldn't have even shown up on my radar if our school's weekly reader had not featured a story about x-raying a mummy (which is how the mummy is brought to life in that flick) and freakin' bigfoot.
It was called "Wolf 359" (da fak with that name?), where this scientist creates a mini-earth to learn something crucial about evolution or sociology or something, but then THIS FUCKER SHOWS UP:
And it walks on down the hall (figuratively):
And it finds him while he's sleeping:
His girlfriend shows up and saves him, but JUDAS CRISPIES!
I recall having a rather sleepless week. At one point, I heard a single note in the house (a typical house noise) and the wind whipped up. My parents room was on the diagonal across the hall from mine, and our stories are all the same: my foot hit the floor at the end of 10-foot span from my bed only to pivot and leap on their bed 12 feet away. Who says white boys can't jump?
It was nightlights and wide eyes behind the pulled-up blankets for the weeks it took to wear off.
So, that was the childhood thang.
But, a few weeks ago, insomnia had crept down the hall and ... I just put that together ... anyway, there I was, on the 'puter, cruising. Someone posted a link with some false info, like "check out the shock absorbers on this Chevy!" (but not the actual lure, of course), and I clicked on the link.
I had forgotten that I'd had the new wonderful monster speakers with the thunder-licious sub-woofer that I had cranked to 11 for the girls earlier in the night so they could dance right next to me on the floor. I also had the browser expanded to cover the whole screen (which I never do) so I could see all of some awesome "Astronomy Pic of the Day" thang.
And this thing popped up. [UPDATE: alas, it's gone.]
BEFORE you click that link, a few provisos, a few quid pro quos....
This is what's known on the intertubes as a "screamer," which means the sound is worse than the image. Also, please, no children in the immediate area. Finally, have your sound down, and no headphones. You can totally decide to not click this link, and maybe you shouldn't. If you do, you've been warned.
When I clicked it, it came on at top volume at t 3 A.M. in the dark, jumping at me from the screen. I didn't scream like a little girl, no. I screamed like an adult male with his nuts caught in the worse part of a Soloflex as it works itself out when its victim has let go out of fatigue. I lunged for the speaker's volume knob, but in the midst of completely spazzing out, I knocked the whole stack of speakers over. I was reduced to finding the plug and yanking it out of the wall. As I emerged from that, the screen was still flashing the BAD THING at me, so I had to locate the mouse, which I had thrown involuntarily, and close the browser. As I was doing that, my wife - who can literally sleep through thunderstorms that sound like a full-on bombing raid - appeared at the landing and screamed "ARE YOU OK?' Having shut it all down, I walked over and said, probably quite shakily, "I'm fine. Sorry for waking you." She said, "*&%#$ the *&%$#@ are you doing?" I gave a brief, less-damming, description, apologize profusely, and suggested she go back to bed, I'd be right up.
Thankfully, she did.
I had to walk around for about 10 minutes before my pulse lowered and the goosebumps stopped snaking around my person. I went and laid down, but stared at the ceiling for a while, happy the nightlight we keep "for the kids" was still on.
I spent the next two weeks hunting for the thing, wanting to see if it was as bad as I thought it was. When I found it again, it was in broad daylight, but I still jumped and snorted.
So, what scares you?
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