This is MY Story [Part One]
What’s the most frightened you’ve ever been? The closest you have ever come to actually losing your senses to terror. Do you know? I do. It was when I was a little kid, just a few days before I turned seven years old.
My parents and I were watching the very first season of Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. At that time, the most important things in my world were snakes, dinosaurs, and sharks. I was endlessly fascinated by them. We lived about four hours from my grandparents’ beach home so we would spend weeks every summer on the water. I could cast and reel before I could walk. By this point, I had already hooked more than a few sand sharks and even seen some black tips. Thirty years later, of my most vivid memories are of a shark fishing tournament held at local marina.
My curiosity, and tendency to ignore crowd control barriers, resulted in a fast friendship with a marine biologist. He was on site, doing research and performing autopsies on the sharks brought in. Even thirty years ago you couldn’t just slaughter sharks for sport, you had to have an angle. I wondered up to the table as he was dissecting a juvenile bull shark. I say juvenile, because that is what it was, but this thing was more than large enough to end anyone’s day at the beach. The biologist waded through the viscera, pointing out organs and structures I had never heard of. He even let me help. I was six years old, up to my elbows in shark guts, and I could not have been happier. The winning specimen that year was a 14 foot, 1,500 lb Tiger caught only two miles off shore. I still have the picture of me, standing beside it with my scrawny little arms hugging its massive head, as it hung in the air, suspended from the giant weighing crane.
Back then, I could not imagine being afraid of something I loved so much. Sharks were magic to me. They flew through water I could barely tread in. But that was before Shark Week.
Most of the episode is a blur. I have no idea what it was about. What I do remember is the reenactment of an attack just at the edge of breakers. The screen showed flashing teeth, a fury of bubbles, and what I now assume was gallons of red food coloring. As I watched, nothing of note was going on in my head. I knew sharks ate things in the water. I knew people went in the water. So I suppose I knew a shark could eat a person. But it had never been a conscious thought that they would.
A short time later I was put to bed for the night. As I drifted off, on that strange plane of not asleep and not awake, all the gears in my mind froze on a single thought- sharks were going to eat me. I saw every body of water I had ever been in, and every one I would be in. Lakes, rivers, the ocean, and swimming pools. Even my bathtub. And they were all FULL OF SHARKS. I couldn’t breathe, let alone think. I threw off my covers and sprinted out of my room screaming. All remember after that was the phrase I yelled at my parents. I will remember it word for word until the day I die; “I’m so scared I can’t stand it.”
So that’s the most frightened I have ever been. In the decades since, I have experienced scarier things, sure. I have been in a couple serious car accidents. I worked for years as bouncer and had some things go down there that deserve their own story. Once, only a couple years ago, my best friend and I (what’s up Ryan) were actually stalked in the waters off the North Carolina Outer Banks by a full grown bull shark. Did you know they have the highest testosterone levels of any animal on earth? No wonder they such dicks. But at no point was I ever as scared as that little kid running down the hallway to his parents.
I think that is where my love of horror started. No, not because I enjoyed the feeling. Not because I got some perverse rush from it. It was because I hated it. I hated being afraid more than I hated anything. I don’t remember thinking this, but I believe some part of my subconscious knew I could desensitize myself to that feeling. That maybe I could control it. So I started with scary movies. I begged my parents to let me watch all the 80s classics. The first novel I ever read was in fifth grade about a rabid dog written by the King himself. This stuff scared me silly, and my plan was not working.
I started having night terrors in my 20s. Not nightmares, no sir or ma’am. Terrors. Waking up screaming in my living room or thrashing on the floor of my bed room. I was scared to drive at night, convinced I saw things in my rear view. I saw a shadow move in every corner and a monster behind every door. Something was happening though. I was, in fact, starting to like it.
I pushed ever deeper into horror. I sought out the most intense movies and literature I could find. No subject matter was off limits. The line between fear and fun was becoming more and more a blur. Then, five or six years ago, I stumbled across a gold mine. I was searching for narrations of classic horror stories to listen to when I first saw the term “creepypasta.” This was what I needed. An endless supply of haunting lost episodes, cursed video game copies, and every tall, skinny monster you could imagine. These captured my imagination for years.
But like every new drug, I slowly built up a tolerance. Yes, I could appreciate the well-crafted stories. I could acknowledge a tale as scary, but eventually they were no longer scary to me. I would return to masterpieces that hooked me in the beginning, and while I felt the pleasure of nostalgia, the fear was gone.
This was when I made a decision. If no one else could scare me, maybe I could scare myself. I started writing my own stories. The first dozen were too awful to let see the light of day, but I was determined. I knew no great author started off great. So I kept at it. Terrible story after terrible story. Until one day, I finally knew I had something. I submitted it to a big creepypasta website, but never heard anything back. I searched for the title every day, but it was never posted. After days of stewing over this, I realized I never received a confirmation email. There was nothing wrong with my story, the problem was the website. I wasn’t going to waste any more time there, so I decided to jump to the big leagues. I was going to post on Reddit. And not just any sub, I was going to post on the biggest scary forum out there. My stories still weren’t scaring me like I had hoped, but I wasn’t ready to give up. Maybe I could live vicariously through the fear I brought about in others. So I stayed up all night putting the finishing touches on my story. When I knew it was ready, I clicked post and went to bed. To my pleasant surprise, I had night terrors for the first time in ages.
The next morning I woke up and immediately checked my inbox. “Post deleted. Repost.” I was more confused than angry. How could this be repost? I wrote it myself last night. I read further and there was note from a mod saying “I am sure I have read this somewhere else.” Sure? SURE!? I was sure he didn’t know what the fuck he was talking about. I messaged back, calmly explaining this was my original content and there was no way they had read it elsewhere. The response never came.
For the next few months, I forgot about my stories and enjoyed the seeming renaissance of big budget horror movies. I saw every one of them and they were great. Not scary to me, but still wonderful horror. After feeling particularly inspired by one of these movies, I sat back down at my computer, determined to scare me and anyone else I could. Four hours and two thousand words later, I had part one of what I knew would be the next great series. Series where it was at. Be it about a guy in the woods or a convenience store clerk, if you weren’t writing a series, you weren’t writing.
A little more nervous this time, I posted again. I stayed up all night checking my inbox. At around 4:00 in the morning, my notification sounded. “Deleted. Horrible, but not Horror.” This time, it was all anger. After all the poorly written, grammatical train wrecks I have read here, and mine isn’t good enough?! These stuck up, wannabe snobs would not know scary if it punched them in their oily face.
For another stretch of months, I wrote nothing. I had no desire to create. The movies kept playing on my TV, and the stories kept getting read, but I had resigned myself to the fact that I was to be a passive consumer. I would never be able to contribute to the world of scary things. There would never be a day when my favorite narrator said “tonight we have a story from a brilliant new author.” I was condemned to never be a part of a world I so desperately needed. They decided I was out, so I was out.
As time crawled on, I found myself wishing the stories I read were true. The need to experience fear again, and to be a part of something was so strong. Walking down the street, I would pretend someone was following me. I started doing the rituals at home. The Midnight Man, Charley Charley, of course it was ridiculous and I didn’t believe any of it, but I needed something. Of course nothing happened. Nothing and no one seemed to want to scare me. Nothing wanted me, period.
I can’t say when it happened, but somewhere along the way, I stopped pretending the monsters were coming for me, and started pretending I was the monster. Looking down the same street I used to imagine being chased on, I would find someone and start walking towards them with an insane smile. My hikes in the woods around town turned in slinking from tree to tree, following other hikers and imagining tendrils shooting out from my back and suffocating them. Eventually I realized, I don’t have to pretend. It wasn’t up to anyone else if I scared people, it was up to me. I get to decide what I do in the real world. This isn’t going to be a story for them, this is going to be MY story.
Submitted May 22, 2019 at 07:08PM by sleepygrey