We are Conflicted
We take the grotesque and make it beautiful and we take the beautiful and make it grotesque. It is our art. It is this modern era. We have a morbid curiosity about all things dark and an enlightened approach to our lives.
Horror holds a fascination that is about truth. About taking the parts of the human psyche that scare you and making them real. Bringing those dark things into your life so you can experience them in the comfort of your own home. Fuel for nightmares.
Turning your bathroom into a murder scene in your minds eye. That dark hallway you walk happily down every other night is just a little intimidating tonight. That shadow in the corner, you know is your dressing gown, looks suspiciously like a man in a hat.
What is it about the dark that holds us so enthralled. We are basic creatures, with basic needs and highly adapted wants. Horror uses those clever subconscious triggers to get you to react. Story puts you in the right position mentally. It’s like the routine of doing something everyday. Your mind already knows all the triggers, thank your ancestors, and you simply react.
It’s a clever thing the mind, retaining information from the people that came before us, the things they learnt to be afraid of. It’s in our genetics. We can’t help it. We want to know the story, we like the pattern, we look for the pattern, and then we fall into it. Becoming a piece.
It’s as if we are really there. Our brain experiences exactly what it would if we were really in that situation. So, what would you do? If that shadow really was a person. If that hallway really did hold something scary between the living room and kitchen. If there really was a killer hiding behind the shower curtain.
The Beauty of 3am
Despite the fact that if you wake at 3am there’s an 80% chance of you being watched by someone, there are other interesting things about 3am.
Criminal activity is higher between midnight and 3am.
More deaths occur between 3am and 5am.
And more births, not so much in humans because of interventions and changes to lifestyle, it’s thought the early hours – under the cover of darkness – gives more safety from predators.
But the real beauty is the silence. Most people are sleeping, having already got in from nights out or not yet up to go to work. A silence that is perfect for all those noises you never notice through the day.
It’s usually a little colder too so particularly good for reinforcing the ghost in the room sensation.
The perfect time to wake up from nightmares. Induced by a horror story. Subconsciously experienced and retained. Sometimes your brain is not your friend.
Dreams are meant to be our brains working out the things that went on through the day. You could deduce they’re intending to help us, do us a favour, take away the need to think about something all day. Instead they create a scenario that makes you think about it even more. You feel what you felt in the dream all day, wondering if what happened is how it will really be.
Maybe you dream in black and white or without sound, but if you’re like me you get it in full technicolour HD and surround sound. There is something about having nightmares that’s kind of fun, especially to tell people about, and that super creeped out feeling when you wake is just a little exhilarating (if you can keep your eyes open and prevent yourself falling back in).
Nightmares are horror movies you get for free, created just for you out of your very own subconscious fears. One day we’ll be able to record them and watch them back.
I woke up at 3am a few nights ago, I’d heard the most terrifying scream. But when I sat up no one came running, there were no further screams, and I realised it had been me in the dream.
A girl, upset after hearing bad news, jumped out of a second floor window. She was too far away for me to stop her.
Am I scared of someone jumping out of a window? Did I watch something where it happened? Did someone tell me a story? How did it seep into my subconscious?
What do you dream about?
What gives you nightmares?
Tell me about a nightmare that woke you up terrified in the comments below.
Horror and Fantasy Author – Also writing as K.T. McQueen. Love Western Horror, cowboy boots, my cactus Collin, & my Demon Cat.
Moths – I hate moths, the way they flutter at your face!