Sharks, sharp pointy things and really bad grammar may give me chills but my number one fear is probably not something you would have guessed. As someone who uses fear as an art form, I can honestly say that many of the big horror films that are released don't disturb me as it might other people. I spend more time alone with the possibilities of what lurks in the dark than the average woman my age. But something very mundane strikes fear into my heart. It stems from a long, rocky relationship with stability and the lack thereof. Change has haunted me from a very young age and whenever I became optimistic or tried to embrace it, its claws would lash out like the monsters from Alien (which I did have nightmares about in my younger days). It's terrifying! The first big transition every person faces is the exit out of a safe, loving bubble into the loud, open turbulence that is the world. Then we grow hair, teeth, longer limbs...we skin our knees then break our hearts. We feel attraction, anger, fear, trust, betrayal... With each new growth there is an equally painful lesson. But regardless its still a lesson.
Horror writers imagine terrible things happening to people all the time. We contrive a thousand (or more) ways to kill someone in the most vivid, horrible, and memorable act (sometimes we write in past lovers or backstabbing friends) and then chuckle as we record it into a short story or novel and then share our personal recipe of doom with the masses. We know how to strike fear into your hearts. Words spin into being a shadowy phantasm, psychotic killer or cerebral monster that will haunt you for days or longer. But what is it about these things that terrifies us so? The dark: the unknown that children are often afraid of. The possibilities. The unspoken threat that it COULD happen. It could happen to you or me or the neighbors. That our perfect or not so perfect lives could be interrupted by some being, curse or psychopath intent on robbing us of our only given choice: life. That a change could take everything away quicker than the gasp we would make if we could.
And that is why I write horror. Perhaps to remind myself (and all of you) of the fleetingness of everything. To remind myself that these small complaints and even great losses are not the end but a start to something beautiful. Because change is not only a part of death, it's a part of living. And when you embrace it, you accept a whole, wide world of exploration, emotion, challenges and completion. You accept yourself.
So the next time you see a scary movie, read a horror novel or visit a haunted house...go ahead and scream. Enjoy your mortality to the fullest and let others have a good laugh.