comment by dougclow ·
2013-11-04T12:30:23.906Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
One evening, when I was in my mid-teens, my parents had gone out and were due back very late. For story-unrelated reasons there was a lot of tension, nervousness and worry in the household at that time. My younger brothers went to bed, and I stayed up a bit watching the film Cat's Eye, a mild horror film written by Stephen King.
In the final part of the film, a girl is threatened by a vicious troll, a short, ugly, nasty creature with a dagger. It repeatedly creeps in to her bedroom in the night, first slaughtering her pet parrot, and then trying to kill her by sucking her breath out. She's defended by a stray cat, but unfortunately when her parents come in, there's no sign of the troll, only the cat, so the parents don't believe her and blame the luckless animal for the mayhem.
While I was watching this, one of my brothers came in from his bedroom, clearly upset. He'd heard something creeping in to his bedroom, first opening the door, then walking across the floor. He was scared. I instantly thought of the vicious troll from the film, but with my rational brain knew it couldn't possibly be that. I also knew he hadn't seen the film. So I tried to reassure him, and talked about how the house makes noises in the floorboards when the central heating turns off - which had just happened. He wasn't remotely convinced: he knew fine what the usual house-settling noises were, and this was something different. It was something with feet, and small, no more than a foot tall.
I was a bit creeped out, but as the older brother put on a brave, reassuring face and came with him in to his bedroom and searched it thoroughly. We found nothing. With a bit of persuasion he went back to bed. I went back to the film.
About fifteen minutes later he came back, absolutely terrified. The thing, whatever it was, had come back, opened his door, and walked around on its little feet. It totally wasn't the house settling, it was footsteps. I wondered whether he'd overheard or seen the film, and was imagining the troll, but I was pretty sure he hadn't. He was convincing: he wasn't the sort to get that upset at something wholly imaginary, and was able to give clear detail about what he had heard when questioned. So by now I was really quite creeped out. With my rational brain I knew that the vicious troll couldn't be real and in our house, but there was clearly something going on. My emotions were running pretty high, and I really didn't want to take on the role of the wrongly-unbelieving parents from the film. Which of course made me pretty unconvincing at reassuring my poor brother. I went with him to check his bedroom, and again we found nothing.
He was too scared to sleep on his own, so I stayed with him. If anything does come in, it'll have to come past me first, and I'm pretty tough and I'll be ready, I told him with the best teenage bravado I could muster. Of course, nothing happened with me on watch, and eventually, he fell asleep.
It was my own bedtime by then, so I got myself ready for bed and locked the doors and turned off all the lights except the porch and hall lights for my parents' return. That in itself was slightly spooky, which didn't help.
I lay down in bed and turned off the bedside light. My mind was still racing, but eventually I found myself starting to get a little sleepy.
Suddenly, I was wide awake and awash in serious adrenaline reaction. My bedroom door had just opened an inch or two, and my body was in full-on fight-or-flight-or-freeze mode. I froze. Had I imagined it, in a going-to-sleep sort of way? No: as I watched in horror, the door opened another couple of inches. I'd been in the dark long enough that my eyes were fully dark-adapted, and from where I was lying in bed, I could see the doorway from about a foot high upwards, dimly but distinctly backlit from the hall light, and there was nothing there. Whatever had opened the door was less than a foot tall. So definitely not my parents coming home and checking on me, then. Now I was really scared. My hyper-alert state led to massive subjective time dilation: all this took only a few seconds, but it felt like minutes.
It got worse. I heard footsteps. Small but quite distinct footsteps. Nothing remotely like the house settling. The sort of footsteps something less than a foot high would make. Exactly like my brother had described. Exactly like the vicious troll. Whatever it was stopped for a moment. I could hardly breathe.
Then it started again, clearly walking towards me in my bed. I'm not sure I've ever been as scared as I was at that moment.
Rationally, I knew it couldn't be a vicious troll come to kill me, but emotionally I was certain of it. I thought furiously, taking advantage of the extra subjective time. Whatever it was, I wasn't going to just lie there and let it do whatever it wanted. I sized up my situation. I had no obvious weapons or things-that-could-be-weapons to hand or in easy reach, but on the plus side, I was clearly much bigger than it was, and reasonably fit and strong. Whatever it was clearly intended to surprise me in my bed, but I reckoned I could seize the tactical advantage by surprising it. So far I'd just lain there silently, as if asleep. I decided to seize the initiative and confront it in a rush. This was classic battlefield thinking: under desperate pressure, I didn't seek and evaluate alternatives, I just quickly checked over the first plan that came in to my mind, and although it didn't seem great, it seemed better than doing nothing, so I went for it. I visualised what I would do, got my muscles ready, then moved. I leapt out of bed, hurling off the blankets in the direction of the thing, and roared as loudly as I could as I charged towards it.
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Replies from: MrMind, stripey7
↑ comment by stripey7 ·
2013-11-14T04:25:11.432Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
One may surmise that, if the family not been in an unusual state of tension already, your younger brother would have figured it out for himself.