When I was about 9, I went through a spate of being scared shitless. Not just scared of normal things like ghosts, but everything. Zombies, vampires, the Nationwide report of the Loch Ness Monster (some 450 miles away), the sinking of the Belgrano. The fact was, my brain had developed a new neuroses, a pathological fear for anything that could come back and haunt me. Having lived in a house for 10 years that my parents openly admitted was haunted, the unexpected creaking and groaning from the loft was not so cool.
I'd be the bravest soul on earth during the day. Bad omens wouldn't affect me as I claimed the local tree's summit as my own. I'd take the steepest ramp in the "bicycle at 30mph up a door propped up on bricks" challenge, or hurtle down the local hill on nothing more then a skateboard and avoid the car coming up the hill on the same side of the road as you. The fact was, come dusk, all hell would break loose in my mind. For the next 3 years, I'd be afraid of the dark. The fact was, the dark didn't scare me, it's what was hidden in the dark that scared me. I had a small 40w lightbulb in a bottle encrusted with seashells to keep me company most of the night, but I'd wake up terrified. The reason could be as mundane as the 4 pages of Beezer I'd read before, making me dream of badly drawn cartoon characters chasing me from my comfy bed, or the story I'd heard in school about the boy who'd been abducted by aliens (something most US citizens believe today).
I'd get up out of bed, and go and pester my parents. My father would normally tell me it was a bad dream and to go back to bed. My mother would cough, fart and grunt. Uncomforted, I'd put on my dressing gown and go to sleep on the landing. Many nights would be spent on that cold and draughty landing, before returning to the warmth of the bed and a 40w bulb. I'd wake up next morning, in the daylight, and all would be back to normal.
Some 4 years later, and it all came flooding back. The anniversary of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings in Japan in 1945 had lead to the TV showing the film Threads. Threads was realistic, based upon a nuclear attack on the city of Sheffield in the event of a nuclear war. I don't mind admitting it scared me shitless. For month after month, I trembled at night as the thought of having my flesh blown from my bones at 1000c raised my blood pressure. And once again, I'd be perfectly calm during the day as the fear subsided.
Is it any wonder my son has night terrors. I blame my parents (because I can)
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