Monsters, and Things That Go Bump in the Night By Mitchell O'Rear
The campfire is radiating a warm glow as dusk falls, listeners are huddled close (ok… pre-covid), a teller, dressed all in black, stands before the group and makes a quick survey of the audience – not a child in sight. Time to bring out the most blood curdling, bone chilling, spine tingling tale the teller knows. And why? Because many adults love being scared – really love it (myself included). Is it a throwback to childhood when we believed that monsters were hiding in the closet, or, even worse, under the bed? Is it a safe and fun way to escape the harsh realities of the real world? Or, is it a chance to let the imagination run with wild abandonment into the realm of the mysterious filled with creepy crawlers, boogey men, and horrifying sounds? For me, it’s all of the above!
There is nothing more satisfying than to besitting in the dark and taken down the path of the unknown by a skilled storyteller who has the precision to take us there. It’s all about the tone. It has to be perfect from the moment the teller takes the stage. They know something wicked this way comes, but they aren’t going to let us know until the right moment. Their posture tells us that nothing good is going to come of this story. No, the people in the story are not going to be ok. Bad is coming…really bad. And the attitude of the teller. The twinkle in their eye, and the slight rise in the eyebrow…they seem know what is about to happen, but very carefully conceal the upcoming horror and dread to themselves until that one moment when…Boo! They get us really good…or bad. And, despite the ghastly, ghoulish tale we have just the shared with the rest of audience we all have understanding that we’re going to be ok. Listening to a scary story gives us permission to play out our worst fears imagined in a safe and secure setting.
We can share the fear and dread with the other listeners all the while knowing that as soon as the story ends we can walk back to our cars, drive home and lock the door safely behind us. Of course we might take an extra look in the hallway closet before going to bed…just to make sure our winter coat is still there (even though it’s July) Or we may check to see if our golfing shoes are still under the bed (even though we don’t golf). And of course we will chuckle at how silly we are being. Of course the monsters didn’t follow us home? They didn’t did they? …I think I’ll check one more time under the bed just to make sure.
Yes, scary stories are fun to listen to, the reasons are personal and individual, but when shared with a collective group there is nothing more satisfying. “It was a dark and stormy night…” BOO!