Sunday, 25 October 2009

Tara Nichols: Childhood memories for Halloween

Halloween is fast approaching, a time of year when the sun sets a little earlier and the leaves fall from the trees, leaving behind the skeletal braches back lit by the moon.

Strangely enough, that is the same setting in the spring but it just doesn’t seem quite as spooky.

The last half of October is all about being scared, death, thrills and chills, and that’s the way we like it. (Not all of us of course. My son finds plastic rotting corpses and eyeballs on the end of a pen distasteful, but he’s four)

Halloween is my second favorite holiday, (Valentine’s Day takes the number one position), and I thought on what it is that I like about Halloween so much. Is it the candy? Not anymore? Is it the costumes, mmm, somewhat. Is it the fact that everyone sneaks about trying to scare the pants off all the others? Why yes! That’s it.

Okay, so why? Are we adrenaline junkies? Probably.

That would explain why, as a kid, we watched cheesy B grade horror movies at sleepovers before bed then lay in the dark gripping my sleeping with my eyes wide open until dawn.

It also explains why my cousin and I used to stand at either end of our long hallway with heavy blankets over our heads then walk toward each other, all the time tensed and ready for the thrilling moment when we would crash into one another, or why we pushed the limits and occasionally slept out in the woods, far away from the house.

I have an active imagination, which is a handy feature in regards to writing, but not so handy when I’m walking in the dark alone. It’s at those moments I can convince myself that shadow up ahead is a half decayed zombie (one of the scariest ghouls in my mind). My heart starts pumping extra hard, my fingers turn cold, and I struggle to take another step forward. I’m sure we all had had those moments.

It’s times like that when having a pal around is really handy, unless that pal is as scared as you and won’t stop voicing the images haunting their thoughts. My cousin was terrible for that.

I remember one night in particular when we had just watched a rather gory werewolf movie then slept out in the yard inside their camper. We stayed up until three a.m. chatting happily then retired to bed, and everything was fine until she told me she thought she saw something move just outside the window.


Damage done, we lay there, shivering under the blankets waiting for something to pounce, until one of us decided it might be better to sleep in the house that night. Great idea, I thought, but we still had to walk the length of the camper and get to the house.

Dragging blankets behind us, we edged our way down the long aisle, my cousin shining the flashlight out the windows, then when our feet touched the ground we ran shrieking and screaming to the house.

I knew, deep in my heart, she hadn’t actually seen a werewolf, but I simply could not harness my fear and remain calm, and seeing as I woke in the morning stiff and achy because my cousin had slept ON TOP of me told me she couldn’t either.

The idea of werewolves, vampires, and other icky ghouls is an old one but probably came about in much the same fashion. Some ancestor saw something shift among the shadows and let their imagination do the talking. Back then we sought explanations for the unexplained to make sense of things such as rabies, leprosy, ball lightening, and herbalist hermits who cooked tea in a large cauldron, and even though we have scientific explanations now, it’s still hard to convince oneself of the facts in the moment.

And those days when I have stayed up late working on my latest paranormal I can’t help the fear I take back to bed with me. For as logical as I am most of the time, I still leap into bed from time to time, just in case something slimy is lurking beneath waiting to grab my ankles.

Happy Halloween.

Currently I have eight books published. One of those is a paranormal.

Check out my erotic vampire novella (Book One), Awakening the Blood at Amira Press:

Special thanks to Feebleminds free fantasy pictures


Lindsay Townsend said...

Wonderful, Tara!

It's funny how we all seem to love/hate being scared. I remember as a kid telling scary stories and listening to scary stories in return.

Much more elemental than 'adult' chat about taxes!!

Eden said...

Don't forget those "special" friends who delighted in feeding fears and later jumped out from behind a dark corner yelling something as innocuous as "BOO!". Then they stood there laughing helplessly while while you tried to gather your composure, hoping you hadn't wet your pants.

Tara S Nichols said...

I might have been one of those friends, lol. Come by it naturally. My father and I have a little friendly freak each other out game. It helps that we live four miles apart, both in the deep dark woods. Country folk eh?

Thanks so much for hosting me Lindsay, I had tons of fun!

Rebecca Rose said...

I love Halloween and enjoy the haunted hay ride me and friend put on every year for the teens. Unfortunately, I'm afraid of the outside dark and end up as scared as them! LOL


Tara S Nichols said...

oooh, a haunted hayrack ride! That sounds like an great romance to me!

Savanna Kougar said...

Tara, ooooh, thanks for the thrills and chills... omy, no, me and my siblings didn't do much of that scaring each other stuff, cause none of us really liked it, or watched those movies.
Actually, I've gotten more creeped out, of late, listening to real ghost stories and the type of real research done on a creature like the Beast of Bray Road by Linda Godfrey.
Yep, they could really be out there... lurking, watching...

Keena Kincaid said...

Thanks for the memories, Tara. I loved being scared as a kid. Oddly, I was usually the one who pretended to see a ghost or hear a bump in the night. Yet within a few minutes I was as scared as everyone else in the room. LOL. Fear is contagious.

Tara S Nichols said...

Fear really is contagious. It's like the theory: The longer you think about jumping from a tall height, the harder it gets.

I'm surprisingly squeamish about horror flicks though. I'm a natural trickster or a big chicken, lol.

Kaye Manro said...

Very good post, Tara! I'm with you on the contagious part. I had a few scares as a kid too. And even as an adult!

Sarah Simas said...

HI Tara and Lindsay!

Great post! How fun! I love going to the "haunted" attractions that surface around this time of year. There is a "haunted" forest around here- complete with the haunted hayride and bayou-style shack. It's so much fun! I always lose my voice from screaming my head off!

LOL Lindsay on the talking about taxes. My eyes always glaze over! I'll talk about cleaning house before taxes. YUCK! LOL

Tara S Nichols said...

I think I need to try a haunted hayride. All this talk makes me certain they have to be fun.

Thanks for reading everyone!