Fearology: Scared to be Alive

(Originally published at Slashermonster.com)

When the Sun goes to sleep—imaginary monsters wake up. Secretive abominations hide underneath our beds, while Boogeymen stalk the unseen corners of our closet.

Nocturnal furry things live in the woods, and their territory is just beyond your cozy bed. A wall separates you from the wild unknown and that’s why you shit the bed (don’t tell mom).

No nightmare is complete without a watery abyss. Do you remember the first time you went fishing? The tasty worm danced on a rusted hook, and then the sacrificial bait sank below a realm of docile waves. Something ate the worm. Your imagination wrestled with a mythological aquatic monster, while your arms wrestled with a tiny sunfish.

You may have won the fishing match, however, the realm below the waves is still large enough to contain invisible mysteries (and probably a leviathan).

There was also that fateful, cold night when you took out the garbage and then somehow gazed into the night sky. Perhaps the pungent smell of decayed apple cores persuaded your nostrils to tilt upward. Stellar radiation forever burned the memory inside your brain. Starlight singed those delicate senses. The cosmic eternity above your head caused questions to blastoff inside your vast mind: are we alone in the universe? Will I be abducted by aliens? Do probes hurt? Are crop circles a hoax? Who’s mutilating my neighbor’s cows?

The void between the stars is filled with hydrogen gas…and unanswered questions.

You’re Scared And Don’t Even Know It

What do beds, closets, shadows, lakes, and space have in common? Darkness.

Dust bunnies might be the only creatures living underneath your bed, and your closet may no longer hold a Boogeyman hostage, but there was a time when those territories were unexplored. Monsters exist between the known and unknown—until the land has been charted—we fill in the details with our own feral fears and preconceived expectations of how the world should be.

Some of our ancestors were digested by a saber-toothed tiger, and that’s the reason why unknown territories kick our brain in the wrinkly crotch. If you’re scared of the unknown, blame your ancestors. Just kidding. Kind of.

A bunch of aquatic monstrosities. (Bishop Gudbrandur Þorláksson’s map of Iceland 1590)

Ancient cartographers knew how to inspire young adventurers. Depictions of aquatic monstrosities patrolled certain parts of the unexplored ocean. Maps were branded with curious illustrations, and exaggerated fables enabled jumbo squids to wrap their squirmy arms around our helpless imagination. The unexplored ocean was just like the unexplored territory underneath your cozy bed. You populated the realm underneath the mattress with unseen abominations, or perhaps Freddy Kreuger. Sailors populated uncharted waters with ugly krakens. And just like when you risked your life taking a peek underneath the bed and discovered nothing but dust—sailors mapped uncharted waters and discovered…well…more water or land.

Space: The Final Fear

Paranoid thoughts are not bound by Earth’s gravity. Our feral fears are also imprinted on the night sky. Every “unexplained” point of light transforms into a UFO—piloted by a voyeuristic grey alien. Anything could be up there, right? Just like underneath your bed, and just like underneath the murky lake. The universe is dark and unknown…a cosmic double whammy. We have been daydreaming since the beginning of time. Primitive hominids orbited a bonfire and pondered what could be hiding above our heads.

We’re just playing whack-a-mole. We’re losing. Clunk a question over the head and another pops up somewhere else. Smack that question down and then another pops up over there. Answers create more questions. Questions create more fear.

Jean-luc Picard was captain of the Starship Enterprise. He had a fancy phaser which delivered instant death, and let’s not forget about those useful photon torpedoes! You can’t travel around the universe without ’em.

Despite all the technological gadgets and complicated doodads—Jean-luc Picard still had to deal with damage reports and participate in occasional skirmishes against Borg infantry.

Our cars don’t have warp drive capability, and we don’t have fancy phasers hanging off our fashionable belts. Our shoes can’t even tie themselves. Pathetic. No wonder why we’re scared of the dark…we don’t have photon torpedoes. Shitty.

Think about it: how many extinctions events have occurred? Asteroids smacked the reset button more than a few times. Nobody knows how severely asteroids impacted (see what I did there?) humanity’s overall development, especially during the Ice Age. There is some evidence that biblical global catastrophes were inspired by asteroid or comet collisions, which caused certain parts of the world to become really, really wet. Civilizations could have been washed down the cosmic drain. Hop in a time machine and imagine living among the ruins of an advanced civilization, listening to an inebriated witch doctor describe Armageddon’s fiery details.

Would you be scared? Absolutely! And you wouldn’t even have a bed to shit in.

Don’t Worry, Be Scared

The unknown seduces primal fears and inspires our spines to shake, rattle and roll…that’s what it feels like to be human. We’re all scared of the dark—a cosmic rock may hit the reset button, or a jumbo squid may lurk within the watery abyss.

Remember to check underneath your bed…just in case.

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Published by FlyTrapMan

I have no idea what I'm doing.

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