This being Halloween week, I figured I would address the things in real life that are actually frightening. See, I love critter horror stories as much as the next person, and I've been thinking I should just become a cryptozoologist so I can go out and have all the fun. However, my true horror love is real-life terror. The scares that give me the biggest fear-thrills are things that could really happen. My personal focus tends to be on the human component: serial killers. Yes, I'm fascinated by human depravity, because it seems to me we all have this capacity within us. Some embrace it, some fight it, some have it so well hidden they don't even know it's there. But we all possess the ability to lose our ever-loving minds and go psycho on someone else. Some of us more than others.
There are plenty of things for us to truly be afraid of. Here's a partial list, in no particular order:
|By OCAL, clker.com|
Having said that, we are actually a really safe place. One that doesn't have a cyclical set of horrors that hit us each year. We're not part of tornado alley, we don't get tsunamis or hurricanes, we aren't exposed to mega-earthquakes, the ocean is not going to swallow us anytime soon, we rarely get major blizzards, so on and so forth. We ALL live in an area that is prone to some sort of natural disaster, even if it has been years since the last similar disaster. For instance, the flooding recently experienced in central Colorado last happened almost forty years ago. Long enough that people had no idea this was a possible issue unless they were in the area at the time, but recently enough that people living here had experienced it once before. Estes Park has flooded before, and it will flood again, despite safety measures put into place. Nature is as nature does. The gorgeous natural formations we enjoy so much were created by upheavals in nature. This earth was formed before we lived on it, with cycles we have no control over. Forests burn to clean themselves up and make way for new growth. Hurricanes occur due to heating of the ocean's currents. Everything has a reason for being, and here we stand in the middle of it all, with no way to defeat it, as much as we like to pretend we've got it down.
We won't even discuss insect infestations. What we will discuss is...
infamous creatures that swim up urethras when you pee in the water (fella's...) and are attracted to blood in the water (ladies...). When we step out of our air-tight safety bubbles (oh wait, most of us don't have those?), we are exposed to all kinds of living things that want to kill us. And while, yes, large predators fit into this category, I figure they're usually the least of our worries. This from someone who lives in the wildland-urban interface. In this neighborhood, it is not unusual to find a mountain lion's deer kill, hear packs of coyotes yipping as they chase down an escaped dog, walk under a tree only to find there's a bear up there with her cubs, hear the rattle of a frightened rattlesnake warning us off, watch an owl carry off a cat from someone's yard, so on and so forth. That's life around here, and those of us who've lived in the area for awhile accept that (and we by golly keep our pets inside). But what really scares me are those stories I hear about, say a blowfly laying its eggs in your ear canal, then those maggots working their way deeper and deeper until they infiltrate your brain. Or what about those brain-eating amoebas? I'm prone to sinus infections, but I've learned that I can head them off with what I refer to as the holy trinity: Mucinex, Sudafed, and sinus lavage (neti-pot, sinus wash, whatever you want to call it). But that last one can KILL you if you don't boil the water first. Ask the man on the east coast who died from using a neti-pot, only to have a brain-eating amoeba...you guessed it...EAT HIS BRAIN! They're like zombie bugs. Who needs to fear the zombie apocalypse? It's already here, and it's microscopic!
|By OCAL, clker.com|
By Postdlf [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
|By Mohamed Ibrahim, CLKER.com|
5. Our own clumsiness. The CDC reports over 120,000 unintentional injury deaths per year in the U.S. alone. People fall down stairs, trip and slam their heads into counters, fall out of bed and crack their heads on nightstands, fall into holes, drown in hot tubs and baths, cut themselves with power tools and bleed to death, and more. You could walk under a falling piano today. It's out of your hands.
4. Space murder. If you listen to the paranoid, space is trying to kill us all the time. Killer comets, hungry meteorites, space debris, solar flares. Space is jealous that we're so pretty, what with our lovely blue jewel of a water-bearing planet and all. It's angry. It wants to eat Earth's face off. We don't know what's out there. Aliens? Maybe. They're already experimenting on us to find all our weaknesses. I figure those weaknesses should be fairly obvious, considering we're so easy to kidnap from our own beds or on back roads in the middle of the night. Come on! What killed the dinosaurs? Could it have been something falling out of space? Maybe. How many times have we gotten lucky when a huge piece of space murder has made it through our atmosphere and hit unpopulated areas? Seen Starman? That crater really exists. Ask Siberia about catastrophic space injuries they've suffered (look up the Tunguska Event.) Stuff is constantly penetrating our atmosphere in the hopes of finally being the space monster that gets to wipe us out. Beware the skies, for they bring a fiery death our way. Woooooo-ooo-oo. Oh, sorry, cough, cough.
|By Tvanbr (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons|
Acts of war kill people year-round, every year. Civil wars, world wars, desert wars, wars of all kinds. Acts of terrorism could be included in either category under humans killing other humans. We lose soldiers every day. Civilians get caught in the middle and killed each day. And I could go one step further and include genocide of all kinds here. People kill other people out of necessity, out of religious differences, political differences, to save others, to gain territory, to gain riches and things that will make them rich, to prove a point, to protect their countries, and for so many other reasons. War takes its toll in so many ways.
|See page for author [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) |
or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)],
via Wikimedia Commons
Finally, in the spirit of Halloween, riddle me this: Do you believe a human being can be scared to death? Science says you can. Wouldn't that be yet another example of your mind killing you? How do you protect against that other than by never being frightened? HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
What would you add to this list? What are you most scared of, monsters or humanity? Ready for Halloween? What's your costume going to be?
May you find your Muse.