So, I was painting my toenails Three-Day-Old Corpse Blue and thinking about ooky stuff, because that’s what horror writers do on Tuesday afternoons when they’re not digging shallow graves, looking at internet pictures that should never be seen, or inventing fruity cocktails with cute names that reflect one’s personality, like ”Last Time I Saw Them, My Panties Were In The Punch Bowl” or “Passed Out Naked On The Neighbour’s Back Porch, Which Isn’t A Porch So Much As It Is A Collection Of Pleasantly Cold Cement Slabs”.
I’m afraid my ookiest fears are pretty pedestrian. Being eaten alive. Being eaten alive by stuff that just won’t die. Being eaten alive by stuff lurking in deep water or tenebrous shadows. Being swarmed by bite-y insects with too many legs. Being eaten alive by a troop (gaggle? flock?) of clowns. Zombies. Zombie clowns. Swarms of underwater zombie clowns with too many legs–crap!! Think I just wet my pants.
Anyway, this inspired a conversation with my husband-slash-manager-slash-motivator (if by “motivator” you mean “guy who bribes me to do shit by buying me chocolate”) during which I’m pretty sure he suspected I had a serious head trauma, if I’m diagnosing the look on his face correctly.
Me: So, I saw Dan last night…
Viking: Manboobs Dan, Hairplugs Dan or “Only Daniel, never Dan or Danny” Dan?
Me: Hot Dan. With the abs.
Viking: Skinny guy down the street? *glares* The man who doesn’t own a shirt?
Me: Don’t even think about buying him one, either.
Viking: *glares harder*
Me: What? I said please.
Viking: No. You didn’t.
Me: Oh. Well, I think he’s a fireman. Everybody knows you don’t buy a fireman a shirt. That’s goddamned kooky.
Viking: When you say you “saw him”, you’re not editing out the words “through my binoculars” are you?
Me: Shyeah, like you’d let me own binoculars.
Viking: After what you did with the night vision goggles? Fuck, no.
Me: “Blah-blah, stalking is illegal, Allison, blah-blah-blah.” Could I get to the important part?
Viking: There’s an important part this time? Jesus, I better put my coffee down.
Me: Dan is afraid of clowns, just like me.
Viking: You know this how?
Me: I was wearing my t-shirt that said “Die, All the Clowns, Die” and he bought me a tea. We toasted. It was a bonding moment.
I use my fingertip to mime a tear of sentiment rolling down my cheek. My husband, accustomed to my dorkiness, waits me out with an expectant lift of his eyebrow.
Me: I’m putting him on my Clownpocalypse Survival Team. I think he’d be handy, what with all the muscles and stuff. Man … the hours preceding my horrible demise promise to be truly epic. *smiles dreamily* I almost can’t wait for the clowns to invade.
Viking: *clears his throat from the distant plane of reality* When the clowns invade, naturally they’ll do so from … Cirque du Soleil?
Me: Gawd, I hope not. Acrobatic French clowns would be sexy and scary.*shudders* My loins won’t know whether to get happy or run screaming with the rest of me.
Viking: So, you think they’ll invade from, what, the Big Top? Ringling Bros? Barnum & Bailey?
Me: No, smart ass, from the abyssopelagic ocean trenches, where they’re breeding their slimey, green-toothed army. Duh.
Viking: Must be hard to keep the greasepaint on, underwater.
Me: Dude, we don’t joke about that.
Viking: First Rule of Clown Club, don’t joke about greasepaint?
Me: *narrows eyes* You’re not as funny as you think you are.
Viking: That’s probably true. So this Dan character was pretending to read words that fall across your tits, then bought you a tea? And from this you misinterpret …?
Me: He was hardly pretending, he repeated the words aloud.
Viking: Allow me to correct your fallacious assumptions. A) he’s had 30 years to practise the skill of reading a woman’s shirt while scoping her breasts. B) Writing on a shirt is practically permission for scoping your breasts. C) He was absolutely scoping your breasts.
Me: *snorts* Scoping. Listerine-ing them. Fresh Mint-ing them. What’s next, he’s gonna gargle them?–whoa!! That sounded a lot less pervy in my head.
Viking: No it didn’t.
Me: Well, allow me to disprove your theory. *lifts shirt* Checkmate.
Viking: Not sure what kind of chess that was, but I enjoyed losing.
Me: Clearly, he wasn’t checking out the Itty Bitty Titty Parade. Hmm … a parade would be a bad place for the Clownpocalypse to start. Oh! I think I just scared myself again. *fans self*
The Viking’s lips almost turn up in a smile, but he’s a very smart man who knows better than to giggle at the chest of the slightly cracked woman who has given him two healthy children, and who cooks him non-toxic food, and who tends to lay awake long after he’s asleep and prone. He surrenders to my logic with a tired laugh.
Viking: Not to discourage your convincing and very scientific display, but does this conversation have a point?
Me: At the moment, it has two.
Viking: And I don’t even have to read anything to scope ‘em out. Thanks for that, by the way.
Me: But yeah, I do have a point.
I smile, and it feels like triumph. It feels powerful. If I wanted to, I could terrify the big, strong, clothing-impaired fireman, reduce him to a quivering mass who might sleep by nightlight for a few nights because of me. I’ve had many friends who won’t read my book because “I can’t do scary” … and that is so full of win. I’m not sure I can put it into words, so I don’t try. I shrug, sighing happily. The Viking’s eyes widen with alarm, and that, too, feels like triumph. I am a horror writer … and your fears are my balls to juggle. Even tough guys are scared of something. Everyone’s scared of something.
Hey, what are you scared of?
Maybe you’re afraid of spiders; perfectly natural, since everyone knows they’re tiny skittering bags of creepsauce. I mean, even their webs induce shoulder-hunching heebie-jeebies. Look at that colony! What the–that’s repulsive. I’m not afraid of one spider. I can trap a small one and set it outside, or squish one of those fat ones that appear without invitation or warning in your shower when you’ve got shampoo running down into your eyes, the ones that cause you to shriek and slip and nearly cream yourself on the corner shelf. Oh, I can squish those motherfuckers real good, just give me a bottle of Prell and ignore the war cry and the whackwhack WHACKWHACKWHACK! from the bathroom. Yes, I can handle one spider. But an infestation of them? Hmm, what would be worse: being covered in spiders all stirring about, or facing off against a single underwater zombie clown?
Maybe you’re afraid of snakes. Or sharks. Or the dark. Or a psycho breaking into your house while you sleep. Or the colour of my toenail polish (I admit, it’s looking rather ghoulish). If you’re an aspiring horror writer, get in touch with what scares you the most, and try to write about it. Lead up to the big reveal nice and slow, knowing full well what’s around the next corner. Feel your own belly quiver. If you can scare yourself, you can scare someone else.
What? Oh hell no, I’M not gonna do it. I said YOU should do it. YOU’RE brave. I’m a big chicken. I’m writing this from under my desk, sucking my thumb. I am not writing about clowns, not today. Fuck that noise. I like my sleep.
(Editor’s note: AJ Aalto will now demonstrate her keen ability to speak Kitten, by translating the following feline body language. “Mummy, I don’t think you should sweep the floor, ever-never-ever. Therefore, I am putting myself bodily in your way to prevent such an action from occurring. If you feel the need to sweep, you should observe my case of the rampant cutes, and find something more worthwhile to do, like playing video games, or hey, don’t you have toys that make funny noises?” … kittens: little balls of fluff and wisdom.)