So, what is it that scares you? What is it that leaves you quaking in your boots? What is it that keeps you awake at night? What is it that fills the pit of your stomach with a sense of dread?
Could it be that the thought of accompanying your horror loving girlfriend to the latest supernatural chiller, is making you sick with apprehension?
Could it be that the unlit shortcut is luring you in, despite your better judgement?
Could it be the horrific events on our very own streets, fill you with a sense of foreboding for the future?
Whatever it is, one thing is for sure; it is personal to you. What scares me (which is very little, by the way) may not scare you and vice versa.
Fear is different for everyone. Fear manifests itself in many guises and creates in you an emotional response that becomes ingrained and comes to the fore when you are faced with a specific set of circumstances.
My job, dear reader, is to try and instil that element of fear in you. My aim is to provoke that emotional response every time you see a closed door. My objective is, as always, to scare the hell out of you.
Sometimes I may fail, sometimes I may succeed, but what I hope, is to create that uncertainty; that possibility; that opportunity.
And so you stand back in the corridor, still in shock at how you were deprived of your escape; so cruelly deprived. You stare at the wallpapered over door, your mouth still agape, when you catch movement out of the corner of your eye.
Your stomach goes hollow and your skin prickles as your brain registers the fact that you are not alone. Something has crossed the boundary between the worlds; something has invaded your corridor, your safe haven.
Did you honestly think it was only you who could cross between worlds?
You turn your head to see with whom you now share this dark dank space and you feel your body relax and your breath release as relief floods through you. Is it the white coat that calms you? Is it the sight of a man rather than a creature? Whatever it is, you feel a smile tugging at the corners of your mouth, as you stare at the back of this man; this doctor. For, that is what the white coat means to you.
Oh, that I were to understand this sense of trust you have in this uniform. Oh, that I could understand why you would presume this man to be benign. Yet you do, despite wandering the halls of my mind. I am touched, though, that you still think you will find some good in there.
‘Hello? Excuse me?’ you say and the man raises his head, but keeps his back to you. He does, however, drop his hands to his sides.
You step forward, hand outstretched, ready to introduce yourself, when the light from a lantern catches whatever is in his left hand, sending a harsh flash in your direction. He starts to turn and your voice catches in your throat as your gaze settles on the metal object clutched in his fist; a shiny metal object with a dangerous edge; a scalpel.
You start to back away, your gaze now fixed on his face. A grin decorates his angular features as he looks up at you, his chin tucked in to his chest, a manic look in his eyes. He doesn’t follow you, though. Instead, he stops outside a new door and reaches his right hand towards it, gesturing for you to open it.
You shake your head, but stop your retreat. You squint in the half light from the lantern. Is that blood you see speckling the front of his coat? You lean forward to get a better look. What a stupid thing to do.
Grasping you by the throat, he drags you forward until you are face to face; until you can smell the stale sweat and death that clings to his clothing; until you can see deep into his eyes; eyes that look through you; eyes that look passed you; eyes that look at something else; something you could be; something he wants you to be.
He forces you forward, the door swinging back under your weight and crashing against the wall. You struggle to keep upright as this man, who doesn’t look capable of lifting a chair, drags you across the room and throws you into a metal chair.
You cry out as your spine connects with the unyielding metal and you close your eyes to quell the dizziness resulting from the back of your head slamming against the headrest.
You feel restraints tightening around your ankles and try to kick out, but you are held firm. You reach forward, intent on freeing yourself, only to meet with a punch to the sternum, which sends you crashing against the back of the chair, winding you. As you fight to recover, he straps your wrists down before finally securing a strap around your forehead, holding you at such an angle, so as to expose your neck whilst still enabling you with forward vision.
He stands before you now and cackles; the laughter sending shivers down your spine. Your eyes, wide and staring, are fixed on the scalpel, which now dances before your face.
‘Before we begin,’ he says, his voice rasping. ‘I’d like to introduce you to some new friends.’
He steps out of your field of vision, bowing as he does so.
This time, your scream isn’t a reaction to the pain he has inflicted, it is a precursor to what is to come. For, before you, mounted on the wall like game, hang the severed heads of six people, all identical to yourself.
The sinew and tissue hang from the base of the neck, as though the head has been torn from the body; the look in their now glassy eyes, haunting. At the centre of this macabre display hangs a board still bare, except for the plaque at its base; a plaque engraved with your name.
May fear protect you when the darkness comes.
Til next time.