Updated: Mar 7, 2020
Hello friends. It's that time again, to pull up a chair and blow out the candle, turn off the lights and get uncomfortable in the dark with me. Let me talk to you about fear, a favorite subject of mine. Not typical fear, not fear of missing your bus, or speaking in public, not even fear of death or heartache; I'm talking about deep primal fear, the kind that weakens your knees and your resolve, that kind of soul chilling fear that loosens your very bowels and makes you cry out in the dark, just when you think your heart might burst from your chest.
What scares you? Think about it for a minute, really think, what makes all logic and rational thought leave your mind, leaving you alone with only your fear and your urge to run. Panic sweating from every pore, running down the curvature of your spine and below your tailbone. Is it spiders? A dark room full of thick, black, hairy spiders, running rampant over your body, bristly legs sending chills up your arms and legs as they swarm you, burrowing into your crevices and orifices, making their home in your ears, mouth and nostrils. Do you have goosebumps just thinking of this? Is the thought making your skin crawl? Did you just rub your arms and legs, or swipe at your nose?
Spiders scare me. Spiders evoke every visceral sense that I just mentioned and more, fear spikes mentally and physically. I sweat, I get chills, I get goosebumps and every arm hair raises at the mere thought. But could I survive it? I believe I could. I believe the urge to survive whatever hellish situation has just put me in a room full of spiders would outweigh the urge for my mind to surrender to the dark, to just give in to the swarm and scream and scream until the thousand black bodies choked my windpipe.
My fear, my deepest fear, is the dark. Deep, thick, darkness with no visible sense of space or time, of light or normal sound. Darkness in a confined space would break me. That would be the one fear that would shatter my mind and my soul. Being buried alive for instance, would break me. If I lived long enough to be found, the police would find an empty husk of a human being, a babbling loon, rambling about CthulHu and the spider gods, Hollow Earth and other nonsensical ramblings from a once intelligent mind. That sort of darkness, my mind cannot even fathom surviving it. Imagine exploring a cave on a warm autumn day, miles of dark caves full of lakes and crystals and insects and stalagmites. Such dark beauty that begins to condense and shrink in size, tunnels become tighter, passages narrower, breathing more shallow.
Imagine having to crawl through one such passage, having no other choice but to try to get to the other side and the crawlspace becomes tighter and tighter, until you are stuck. Legs cannot do anything but slide and kick against pebbles and dirt, arms jammed above your head, but nothing to grab onto to pull yourself along. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of dirt and rock pressing in on all sides. Nothing but blackness all around, no light, no human sounds except the sounds of your own body, no one to hear your screams. All senses on high alert, every rustle induces panic, skittering sounds constrict your chest even more, as you hyperventilate and try to breathe. You are stuck. Underground. Alone in the darkest space you could have ever imagined.
That would shatter my soul and break my mind. My every fear would manifest itself in the space of an hour, let alone the 18-24 hours that it would take for anyone to notice my absence, discover where I had gone and form an underground rescue party, but it would be too late. Every monster I have ever feared would suddenly be snarling at my face, snapping their bloody jaws inches from my scalp. My ribs would crack, one by one as my chest heaved against the rock and dirt, desperately trying to breathe. My sanity would slip, second by second as my every attempt to move forward or backward failed. Every logical thought would slip into fear crazed ramblings as the seconds dragged by.
There is a cave scene in "Breach" , that took me 5 hours to write because of my very physical response to the world I was creating upon the page. Sweat soaked through my clothes, my throat grew dry and parched and my chest heaved trying to breath slowly. All of this from just the mere thought of what my main character was being put through upon my page. This scene was ripped from my own nightmares, my own very real fear of such an experience. This was one of the few scenes that was not edited at all. Not a single word was changed because my sheer terror at the words I had written had conveyed itself so clearly in the scene that nothing needed to be added or changed. It was terrifying exactly as it stood.
So I ask you, friends, what scares you? Can you tell us? There will be a forum post later this week for exactly those tales. Tell me your nightmares. I'll keep telling you mine.