A Playground for Authors Jason White and Michael Schutz-Ryan

What Scares You?

What scares you?

I mean, is there ever a time or an instance that happens that creates a tingle of terror to dance up your spine? Do you ever feel like you’re not alone when standing in the dark in the kitchen (or any other room) at one o’clock in the morning when there’s nobody else awake?

There’s lots of things that give us slight frights from time to time, like when you’re driving your car and the wheels slide on rain-slicked or snow-covered asphalt. Or maybe you’re out late at night, or early morning, walking the dog and there’s someone who turns when you turn, making you think that they’re following you until you’re nearly home and you find that they are no longer there.

I’ll tell you one thing that scares me. It’s something silly, but it makes my skin crawl and my anxiety levels rise. We have pet cockatiels in our house. I’ve always had birds in my life, from budgies to lovebirds to cockatiels, so you can bet that I’m not afraid of pet birds. No, but what does freak me out is when I’m watching television late at night or I’m off to the bathroom in the dark and something freaks out the goddamn birds, causing them to flap their wings and jump/fly around their cages as though something’s trying to get at them.

Now, the logical side of my brain knows that either my sudden presence, or other shadows–a cat maybe?–had startled the birds. But there’s this irrational side, this demonic “gut feeling” that tells me there’s something in the corner, hiding in the darkness. Something inhuman. Something that wants to harm me. This “gut feeling” is generous enough to supply me with images of what this demonic force might look like.

Since I’ve had pet birds for most of my life, this isn’t new. It happens every so often, perhaps two or three times a year. Maybe more if a freak out session is ever slept through. And let me tell you that when I was a kid, an episode such as this would have sent me to my room quicker than the shit that has somehow turned cold and trickled down my leg.

Okay, there was never any cold or hot shit involved. But for some reason I always felt better once my feet were off the floor. Whatever’s up with that, I don’t know. Thankfully, I don’t need to run to my room these days when it happens.



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