Tag Archives: death

Aliens Vs. Apparitions


There I was, 11-years-old, brushing my teeth in the bathroom mirror, getting ready for school… and terrified out of my gourd. Toothbrush slowly shaking across my front teeth, back and forth, over and over the same spot as my bulging eyes darted between the open door leading to the dark hallway and the wall behind the shoulders of my reflection, just knowing something evil must be near. I leaned over to spit out some excess toothpaste, taking my eyes off the mirror for only a split second and when I straightened back up, there was my mother standing behind me. Her bed-head hair was twisting in contorted directions, her bloodshot eyes stared blankly at me, and her jaw lay slack from a mid-yawn pause. All in all, the most terrifying, gut-wrenching, thing I had ever seen… that morning. I screamed like I was Macaulay Culkin putting on aftershave. Toothpaste-laced spittle was flying to and fro and my hands flew up in a defensive position across my face, toothbrush bouncing off a wall somewhere, no doubt. I pushed past her and her confused face, knocking her aside as I leapt in one swift motion out of the bathroom, thorough the dark hallway, and into my bedroom where I slipped under my blanket like a poof of smoke and began sobbing uncontrollably.

That’s it!My mothered yelled at me, following my flaming smoke trail into the bedroom. You’re taking those books back today!

You see, the week before my class took its regular excursion to the library so that we could all browse around and read or checkout a book or two to take home. Trying to stir the imagination, I suppose, was the intended goal of the teacher, but her noble intentions did not take in to consideration the twisted little mind of one of her students and the near nervous breakdown it would cause an 11-year-old to have just a few days later.

Two books sitting side by side caught my attention immediately. One was about the evidence that aliens might be visiting our planet from time to time and the other was about the possibility that ghosts may be all around us, all the time. Tons of photos of smokey body shapes and eyes lurking in the background of family photos, or bearded men dressed in civil war era clothing leaning against tress. I took them both home and opened up a little can of crazy on the rest of my family.

The alien book I found very interesting and not at all scary. Little slimy midgets wearing sunglasses hurdling through time and space in flying muscle cars seemed pretty awesome to this little 5th grader. Lifeless corpses who watch you from the shadows with their dead eyes and the power to possibly posses your very soul, all while moaning and spitting blood? That seemed a little less appealing for some reason.

I was incapacitated by abject fear for weeks. Every open window into the night contained flesh rotting corpses hovering and waiting for me to look their way, so they could stare at me with deadpan eye sockets. The mirror became a portal to the netherworld where a turned back could get you a one way ticket to hellish death. Every creak and crack  was a limping, dragging, foot and every breeze a whisper or moan from a tortured soul. I was inconsolable.

I eventually got ahold of the reigns and straightened out, but to this day sometimes I just cannot control the fear once my brain turns something over. I saw the movie “The Ring,” which I understand is laughable to some people, and I couldn’t go to the bathroom or down my hallway by myself for a couple weeks… and I was 26! I mean, the hallway light was a long florescent bulb that flickered on and off! How scary is that? I was living alone with my cat (totally hetero thing to do) and I had to pick him up and take him with me at night whenever I had to go to the back of the house. After all, cats can sense spirits right? Hey, I know all about it, I saw Ghost too. Pathetic.

But when I stop and really think about it, it seems like in this world you generally fall into two categories: you’re terrified of ghosts OR you’re terrified of aliens. I know there is the group that is scared of anything and everything, and then, of course, the “I ain’t a-skeered a nothin!” group which we all know is bullshit posturing, but for the most part I think people would definitely choose one over the other.

My wife lands on the alien paranoia side. Sure she has a healthy respect for possibly ill-intentioned ghosts, but you can hardly let the word “alien” roll off the tongue without igniting a little terror and sending her fingers plunging into her ear canals. La-la-la-la-la I can’t hear you!

In basic training she was woken up in the middle of the night to pull her guard duty shift. She emerged from her tent, rubbing the sleep and exhaustion out of her eyes, only to see three moonlit shapes slowly marching towards her in the dark. They were all holding rifles, of course, and were wearing hooded gas masks as they creeped across the clearing in the woods, towards where she was standing. She was legitimately horrified that they were alien invaders for a moment and almost screamed out… which of course would not have made for a pleasant ending to her military exercise.

What is the difference? Why do I think aliens are cool, but she might need adult diapers if we ever watch “The Fourth Kind?” (Never going to happen) It seems to me that the answer to the question about which you are more fearful of might have to do with a deeper, hardwired, response that you have to fear itself.

Aliens represent an external unknown. Aliens come in and observe you from a distance or they swoop in and steal you away from your own home and place of safety and comfort. They are truly unknowable and foreign. They experiment on you in very inhuman ways and represent something that is beyond anybody’s control.

Ghosts, on the other hand, are very internal and a somewhat known variable. They are basically you, but a different version of you, a possibly evil version of you and others like you. They don’t come from afar, they come from within, and could possibly be sitting next to me as I type this out (… stop saying stuff like that.) They are dead, lifeless, cold, lost souls… and you might become one of them. You know that you could, because if ghosts are evil, you understand that you have that propensity for evil within you right now and you can see it in humanity as a whole.

So which are you? Do you pull the covers up to your eyeballs when you sleep alone at night because you’re afraid someone might come in and take you or because they are already there sitting at the foot of your bed? (stop saying things like that!)

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Remember that one time, when the world was going to end?


Monstrous tornadoes ripping cars right off their cinder blocks and out of every front yard in tornado alley, massive tidal waves wiping out entire hippie communes up and down the Western U.S. seaboard, gaping fissures ripping open and swallowing large women and their tiny dogs in the blink of an eye, and heat so intense that even baby seals and drowning polar bears burst into flames.

This may be a slight exaggeration on the picture painted for us by modern doomsday prognosticators, but it isn’t that far off. Unfettered by that pesky little idea about history repeating itself, they continue to press on, spitting in the face of restraint, rational thought, and every other delusional egomaniac that came before them.

One generation after another, after another, after another thinks this is it, this is the time, it’s the end, we’re all going to die… and each time, apparently to their sad surprise, instead of some epic turn of cataclysmic events leading to their noble demise, they stub their toe on a rusty gate and die from infection.

Recent generations have come up with more inventive ways of destroying humanity than just the old standard of God’s terrible wrath smiting evil-doers with one wag of the finger. However, these fun new ways to die are more a reflection of modern man’s circumstances than any real originality or imagination. I don’t want to discount the effectiveness of a good old fashion smiting, Revelations style, it’s just that it’s been done to death. Just know that for a very long time people walked around with their eyes down waiting for God to take a heavenly dump on their heads.

So, with the rise of modern warfare and modern weapons, the 50’s and 60’s saw the emergence of the idea that the world would simply be blown to little bits by atomic or nuclear warheads:

“More coffee dear?”

“Why, yes I think I’ll have some more. Say, do we have anymore shoe polish?”

“Well, I’m sure I saw some on your…”

*flash*

Congratulations, your ass and seat are now one and the rest of you is a black stain on the wall!

Next came acid rain… dun-dun-dun! What other two words could you possibly stick together that would sound any scarier? I mean, it’s acid and it falls from the sky… onto your babies and other valuables apparently. Bravo, instillers of fear and exploiters of paranoia!

Movin’ on up (Jeffersons reference) to the 80’s and 90’s we still have nuclear war hanging over our heads, but now technology is thrown in as a little twist just for fun. Uh oh, we don’t even have to press the button, maybe the computers will do it for us! Wargames, Terminator, Terminator 2, Y2K, and Short Circuit 2 all left people terrified of the possibilities.

Now that people have started to climb off the ledge a little bit, we get hit with a nature bomb. As the vengeful and terrifying God of the past is slowly being replaced by a kinder, friendlier, Earth and the worship of nature itself, the damn planet is pissed and is now going to wipe us out. Well, that’s great. Thanks a lot for the pep talk Al Gore.

If I were a betting man (and I am) I would put my money on things spinning along swimmingly for quite some time.

Keep feeding your dog. Keep clipping your toenails. You’ll be glad you did.

Some spectacular failures of the past: Top 10 Failed Apocalyptic Predictions – Top 10 Lists | Listverse

I can hear myself think


What I sometimes think about when nobody is talking…

I have recurring dreams about flying. I just spread my arms out and soar into the sky, free from all the bindings and responsibilities of the earthly realm. These dreams are usually followed promptly by dreams about me plummeting to my death in a terrifying free fall as the earth comes rushing back to crush me. I don’t need any dream interpretation skills to figure out what this means.

I have to laugh when I hear people get really perturbed when they hear a celebrity’s view in world matters. These people get all indignant and say things like “What the hell does Bono know about anything? He’s just some dumb singer. Just stick to writin’ crappy songs and let other people worry about things you couldn’t possibly understand, all right pretty boy?!” Well, I don’t know Jimboy, you seem to vocalize your opinions pretty loudly and you have more missing digits than remaining teeth, so let’s hear what Brad Pitt thinks about world hunger for a sec. Maybe other people can also have a shred of insight, even if they are just subhuman celebrities.

I’ll take experience over age any day. Just because you are old doesn’t mean you are wise. A person can live their whole life and experience next to nothing. There is no seniority rule in truth, but the truth of an experience is lost if the person doesn’t have the will for self-reflection.

If you ask me what I think or feel about something and I say “Oh, I don’t really know.” I am lying. I am just subconciously stalling so that my brain can catch up. You didn’t ask me what I “know” about something, or any factual statistical analysis. You asked what I thought or felt about it and the brain never stops thinking or feeling at anytime. There is no off switch. It is hard-wired to prejudge, to make snap decisions as a matter of survival. When I say “I don’t know” it means “Of course I have already formed an opinion on the subject, whether or not I wish to admit it. Even if I appear undecided or neutral, deep down I know what I feel, but I don’t want to sound ignorant or short-sighted.” I think most people feel that way about most things, if they are honest with themselves.

If you truly believe that you don’t care what anyone thinks about you, you’re probably lying to yourself. You are a social animal and you didn’t just unravel millions of years of human evolution that is dependent upon group interaction for survival, just because you listen to indie rock and shop at Hot Topic. You care. Thoreau didn’t fill up reams of paper so that he could read his own thoughts at some later date. It’s usually the people who think themselves the most individualistic and free of any outside influence who have to find someone to tell it to or rush around letting the world know how much they don’t care. What a pathetically selfish world it would be if nobody cared what anyone else thought or felt.