How many times a day do you ask yourself why you love the stories you do? I know every time I look at a Supernatural GIF, read about what Molly, AKA the Thing of Evil is doing, or randomly think about what that sneaky little noise was in the corner, I wonder why I love horror. Why I always have. I bet my mom asks the same question. I would ask her, but I’m honestly a little afraid of the answer. Horror in its truest form, what others think of us!
Seriously though, what makes the things that go bump in the night so fascinating? I mean what’s so great about stories in the first place? The world is full of its own horror as it is. All one needs to do is pull up their facebook feed to see that.
Don’t do that. Stay here with me.
Scary stories aren’t always a safe place. At their best, they take our worst nightmares and lay them bare. How do they do that? In the case of Sam and Dean Winchester, they put on pretty, pretty, handsome, swoon worthy faces and prance around for an hour, saving people. OK. Dean prances. Sam grimaces, Castiel cocks his head, Crowley makes a smart remark, and Bob’s your uncle.
It’s the in between, that’s where they get you. Where they fight for their own souls while killing, hosting, and becoming literal demons. In the end they beat them back and kinda do a great job of convincing you that you can beat your own, as well.
Then of course, there’s the master, Stephen King. I am a King junkie. A Constant Reader. I feel no shame in that. When I was thirteen years old, I read my first King novel, “Pet Sematary”. Growing up, we lived in the middle of nowhere, surrounded on all sides by farmland of one type or another. It was a gorgeous place, full of light and green and rain.
But at night, it was cold and quiet. Still, dark, open fields on all sides. Behind my bedroom window nothing but wide open space. Plenty of space for whatever might be out in those trees way over there to come creeping up to the window at my back. Scratch its cold and dead nails down the glass, pull me out from under the sill, and be off into the night.
I read that book huddled under the covers. And when Louis stumbled through the swamp, his dead little boy cradled in his arms, I all but wept in fear. Up until that very point, and it’s one of my more vivid memories, I had no idea why you wouldn’t just…stop…reading.
But I knew then, and I know now. You cannot get through the swamp if you stop halfway through. You cannot escape the monster if you leave it, hovering over your shoulder, snarling and wheezing and drooling. No. You must push through. Get to the other side.
Vanquish the monster.
And I think that’s it, right there. The crux of it. Why I love horror, why stories matter, and why I choose to push on, even when I’m terrified. Adrenaline junkie? Sure. You know it. But more than that, stories, horror stories in particular, take the deepest darkest parts of us, shove them out into the light, and then force us to push through. To deal with it. To read on, and come out the other side.
I’ve dealt with my own personal demons. I have more to unearth. So I’ll just get out my little shovel and see what’s under the surface.
Those old burial mounds won’t mind if I just park it here, right?