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Calling All Creeps

Weirdass fungus? Moss? Lichen? Fern? It’s almost spring; Finally, forest season–don’t get me started about the forest in a Canadian winter–and so begins a series of long walks through the woods at the cottage or at Short Hills Provincial Park, swatting bloodsuckers (mosquitoes, not vampires) and going off the path to investigate strange sounds or furtive movement in the boscage and undergrowth (see also: the adventures of getting back on the path after thigh-high plunges into fetid muddy ditches). I’m fearless in the forest (read: stupid) and I’ll check out anything,  adopting that wary half-crouch half-slink of a B-movie actor slated as “Victim 3, Ditz In Woods”. If I’m hiking alone, I like to run full-out in short bursts as if something or someone is in pursuit with cold intent … but as I’ve clearly stated before, I’m not normal. Sadly, nothing ever IS chasing me, except that one bloodsucker who just won’t quit (vampire, not mosquito).

There’s a lot of room for what-if in a forest. Shade and shadows hip-hop, shimmy and rock behind the trees like they’re auditioning for Dancing With the Stars. Gusting winds thrust limbs against one another, holding them overhead in submissive bondage. A dischordant click-squeal to your left, and pretty soon your imagination is flooding with possibilities. Especially if you walk at nightfall … what horror writer doesn’t do this? What self-respecting horror writer passes up the opportunity to think what the hell made that noise?? So much to see, hear and fear. (See: weirdass white fungus in picture above–alien lifeform? I vote yes!) A good forest is pregnant with what-ifs that may or may not lead to oh-shits.

I wonder if writers are oversensitive to such things, if we pick up cues and blips and snatches of sensory input that normal people overlook? Do we go looking for the unseen? Are we all prone to hypersensuality? And if so, is that a blessing or a liability?

A handy alternative to the forest, for this little writer, is the long, familiar stretch of the Welland Canal between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario; now that it’s spring, I don’t have to keep the car running to stay warm. I’ve known this area my whole life. If I was a nutcase, (“if”, heh heh) this would be my hunting ground. Writing at the CanalHrm. Probably I should backspace over that; with my luck they’ll turn up mutilated bodies in the canal’s sullen murk and my name will get slapped on a suspect list. Hell, why pass up an opportunity to get tackled by cops? *drool, pant*

 This is my spot by the canal. It’s an ideal place to write (if by “ideal”, one means “risky” and “slightly moronic”). I type merrily away, waiting (hoping, let’s not bullshit, here) for a figure to slink past my rearview mirror, or the creeping shuffle-crunch of a carefully-placed boot on the gravel just beyond my blind spot. Anticipation of fear is nearly as sensual a ride as the fear itself. Any minute now, something eldritch and feral, something lazily letcherous, something slithering between human and other will give my poor heart a reason to buck into a hammering joyride … annnnny minute now. No?

*crickets* Pffft. Psychos and monsters: always popping out of the friggin’ barn when you least expect them, but when you really need one, where are they? Right, down at the damn carnival licking clown sweat off the seltzer nozzles. Don’t they know I’m impatient for some shuddersome company?

Until the mud clears off the backwoods jogging paths, and the dangers of the canal crank up, I suppose I shall have to satisfy my need for inspiration by hanging out here in the back yard under your window. That new lamp looks great, by the way. No, no … no need to turn it on.

I can see you just fine in the dark.

(editor’s note: AJ Aalto is an unrepentant liar, a devourer of raw cookie dough and human hearts,  a creator of falsehoods, and a creepy ratfuck. She’s only pretending not to actually stalk you, and might be planning on eating that leftover meatloaf in your fridge, though she’s heartily disappointed in your no-name condiments. AJ Aalto has booked her next haircut to coincide with yours; she’ll be the one smiling behind her Vogue Paris. When you’re ready to go, she’ll be in the parking lot. If she can take you, she will.)


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