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April 14, 2008

Blog of Fear

Blog of Fear
by Harley

My son, as a baby, had a talking toy fire engine. And on occasion—in the middle of the night, often—the battery would go kaflooey and it would say spontaneously, VERY LOUDLY, over and over: “This is Grandpa. In case of emergency, dial 911.”

Never mind that I never understood that toy, and that twice I got calls from the Sheriff’s department, asking if everything was okay, since someone had just dialed 911. (“Sorry. My children think their grandfather is stuck inside a toy truck.”) What struck me was the scariness of a talking vehicle after dark. I’d wake up horrified and confused, hearing “Grandpa” on the baby monitor, then go hurtling downstairs to remove the batteries before he could wake the toddlers.

Last July it happened again, this time with a construction vehicle. I was sleeping in the playroom, due to a certain domestic crisis, and one night the vehicle called out,“Press forward or reverse action. Press forward or reverse action. Press forward or—”


Due to the aforementioned crisis I was praying a lot, so it seemed reasonable to assume this was the Voice of God speaking through a dump truck. After removing the batteries, I lay in the dark wondering what actions I could reverse in my life. Eventually, having no clue (and no time machine) I opted for “Press forward.”

But last Wednesday it happened again. At 2:30 a.m. a stuffed horse neighed. I heard it on the baby monitor and this time I did not race to turn it off, because this time the kids and dogs were at their dad’s. And therein lies my problem: when alone (Dixie the Bunny doesn’t count), I am scared of the dark. Especially since I live in a “neighborhood” right out of The Blair Witch Project.

I knew, you see, that this was no defective battery problem, but the clever ruse of a demented killer, trying to trick me into unlocking my bedroom door (which I lock when alone). Like I’d fall for that. Instead, I turned off the baby monitor (left on even without the kids here, so I can call 911 when I hear the burglars talking) (not that 911 is taking my calls anymore). I didn’t seek a Spiritual Message in this neigh. Sometimes a horse is just a horse, of course, of course.

But it was a wake-up call. I’ve been single for 9 months and while I’m doing very well in most departments, there’s one big downside: I can’t do Scary anymore. No books, no films, no News at 11. I’ve got my friend Alexandra Sokoloff’s latest novel, THE PRICE, on my bedside table but it’s face down and unopened. Even the cover art terrifies me. Her first book THE HARROWING was too harrowing to read except in daylight while married, so what chance does this one have? Alex joins Gregg Hurwitz on the “Call If You Need A Blood Marrow Transplant, But Don’t Ask Me To Read Your Book” list. I have Gregg’s entire oeuvre, but the last one I read, there was a severed head in the freezer. Please. I’m still recovering from THE SHINING, 23 years later.

Don’t let’s bring up the Second Amendment, either. A gun, even if I wanted one, is no defense against the supernatural.

I would like to know, however, 1. what other scaredy-cats do alone in the dark, and 2. why things with batteries come to life of their own volition (or is this only at my house?) And 3. if everyone could please stop sending my children talking toys. Thank you.

Happy Monday!


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No talking toys in Pittsburgh, The Land Without Talking Toys. Come out, and it can be a topic of discussion.

We had a toy police car's siren running almost constantly in the trunk of the car on a trip from Cleveland to Wilmington back in something like 1993. Once the battery died, we never replaced it. So things with batteries come to life in other places, not just Sleepy Hollow, California.

There is no 'dark' in my house. "Emergency lights" (more adult than "night-lights") stay plugged in all around the baseboards, both first and second floors; when the lights go out, these come on. In the living room is a 'necessary' light that casts enough of a glow for reassurance. When I travel, the bathroom light in the hotel room stays on all night, with the door almost (but not quite) shut.

Wish I had better advice, but I don't do The Dark at all.

Lurker here.
Harley I just wonder why these battery operated toys seem to only "malfunction" at night. This has happened in my house as well. Once was an emergency vehicle that said something like the one yours did with call 911. Another was my grandaughters Disney Princess kitchen that suddenly came on and started "cooking" and talking. It did freak us out.
Every time it only happened during the night.

I'm stil recovering from The Exorcist, which I had to read on a sunny beach when I was 18. Still unnerves me.

My first suggestion is to keep one dog with you. But when our dogs both went to the great squirrel hunt in the sky, my husband lobbied hard to remain dog-less. So when he's away, my remedy for fear of darkness is to stay up until I can no longer force myself to stay awake. (It makes for terrific writing time, but unfortunately, the pages don't always make sense the next day.) Then, like William, I go to bed with the lights on.

Can't wait to see you this week, Harley!

Awww great, I was just about to go to bed alone in my big dark creaky old house and now I've read this and have severed heads and voices in the night and spooky talking kitchens on my mind ...

First off, everyone who had that bunny going to the big farm in the sky needs to pay up.

Our house is almost never quiet and dark. My husband is a night owl, so noise at night is normal.

I know it's not safe to burn candles when you're asleep, but they have those battery-operated ones now - maybe you can use those for some comforting light.

I love the idea of using the baby monitors to catch criminals - maybe Wollie should get one.

I know I owe for the bunny. I had seven days in the pool. What a pessimist.

Baby monitors are from Satan. Someone gave me one when my law firm's secretaries and (some) women lawyers held me a shower, and what a disaster that was! Every sniffle sounded like a subway and made us jump out of bed to see what was wrong. Then, it started picking up the police from time to time and our neighbor's wireless phone, and, well, it was time to end it. (We wonder what anyone else heard from our house.) By the time our daughter was born, there was no way we would get near a monitor.

The idea of a Disney Princess cooking in the middle of the night is the best laugh I've had all morning! (Granted, it's only 5:46 a.m. here.)

Yes, Bunny lives. But she's soon to be demoted from deck to backyard. We're putting the house on the market next week, and as the realtor says, "that rabbit is taking up prime real estate. She's got the best view in the canyon." And her hutch is as big as an SUV.

Oh, Harley, I feel your pain! I've always hated being alone at night. Being divorced as well, it's more common now. I do all those things when I am alone - staying up as late as I can, never watching scary movies, and locking my bedroom door. I even kind of like that my house creaks - it makes me feel like I could hear them coming. I bought a multi-pack of night lights with sensors at Costco and the are all over my house all the time. It's good to hear that I'm not the only one. And if William leaves the bathroom light in hotels, then I know I've been justified all these years doing the same...

We had a toy that turned itself one, I think it was a Barnie. Worse than that, one night our baby monitor picked up a neighboring baby. We went in, and ours was sound a sleep. The second time we brought her in with us, and the baby on the monitor was still crying! We changed the frequency, but it was still so creepy it was hard to go back to sleep. Thank goodness I wasn't alone then.

I'm sorry to hear your moving, especially if it's a result of the divorce. A fresh start in a new place - one that wasn't shared - really helped me. I hope it does you as well.

Yes, we picked up other babies on our monitor. Theirs talked, ours didn't. It never occurred to me that if we were hearing them, they were hearing us! Aaaghh!

I can't read Stephen King's novels, day or night. They scare the bezoozies out of me! As to light, I buy 15 and 25 watt light bulbs and put them in random lamps scattered all over the house on timers. I use the excuse that when we are gone the lights are always on and the bad guys think we are home and up. I also have 7 watt bulbs in little bitty lamps in dark corners. It's never totally dark in my house. My husband is gone 3 weeks a month, give or take, and this really helps. Too, I have outdoor lights that are on the perimeter of the back yard, shining up into the trees. Keeps the back yard from being pitch black and actually looks really cool. I feel much safer just knowing I can see anything inside or out in the middle of the night. Try it. Especially the 15 or 25 watt bulbs. They give a very low, calm light and you can see. Plus you never come home to a dark house.

I can't read Stephen King either, JodiL. And don't even talk to me about Silence of the Lambs.

Harley, I walked out of that movie within about 20 minutes. Wandered around the movie theater, finally wandered into one of the other movies, Class Action, to wait for my husband to finish Silence of the Lambs.

When I first moved into my condo, feeling a little insecure alone for the first time in years, I put the Petster robot cat in front of the door. I figured that if anyone broke in, his little motion sensor would turn him on, and those flashing green eyes of his would chase them off. I tell the story of friends in Minnesota whose pet iguanas apparently scared off burglars -- they liked to jump on guests' shoulders to say hi. (I've added another fear now, perhaps -- attack iguanas).
I also have to avoid truly scary works -- a friend at school used to warn me away from certain books and movies. I can watch _Supernatural_ if I tape it and watch in the daylight.
The new place comes with an alarm system -- my real fear is messing up and setting off the alarms myself. . How embarrassing that would be!

Things going bump in the night have always scared me! Luckily my clock/radio has a bright screen that gives off the right amount of light. Plus, we have a streetlight that's not too far from our part of the street. In hotels, I'm like William...even when my husband is with me the bathroom light stays on and the door stays slightly open. When my husband is away from home, my little poodle keeps me company, but I keep the light on in our master bathroom anyway.

When my son was younger, sometimes we'd hear an eerie noise coming from the toy closet a couple of times a week. We'd try to find the source, but by the time we went through the junk (er, I mean toys), the sound stopped. Finally one day my son and I heard the sound...like a tinny wail...while we were in the closet. It turned out to be fighting dinasours my son hadn't played with in months. We couldn't get the batteries out fast enough!

Mary, in my last place of residence, the cat set off the alarm at least once a month. Embarrassment is something I think I just have to learn to live with.

To this day, when the mister is out of town, even with the hulking 17 year old son in residence, I am a huge woosiegirl. It makes no matter that when the mister is home, I'm the spider slayer/suspicious noise investigator. When he's gone,all the lights are on, the radio in the bedroom is on, the house phone is on the pillow next to me, as is my cell phone which is turned on, but on silent so I can make an emergency 911 call without beeping sounds.

As for talking toys, they are all evil and I got back at everyone for them. When family and friends started having children, I gifted them with toys even more obnoxious than those given to my son. Sometimes I go to bed laughing, just thinking about it.

I haven't watched or read anything scary after 10am, for a long time. You spoke of "The Shining"...I went from a clock radio that turned the little numbers on a spindle to one with an LED readout while reading that book. Woke up the first night, and in my myopic haze, saw the clock numbers fuzzy across the room and knew Randall Flagg had come for me. Never finished the book.

I'm not a fan of horror movies or scary books either. I could never watch The Twilight Zone by myself and barely with another person. I still can't get out of my head the episode where a man turned into a slug...ewwww!

Harley - I think we all know the reason you are jumpy, and it has nothing to do with burglars.

Single for nine months? Take the batteries out of the talking toys and stop by my desk. Seriously.

How you people functioned before I got here is a mystery.

The thought of an iguana jumping on my shoulders is going to keep me moving fast all day! ACK!

Is anyone else charmed by the term "woosiegirl?"

Apparently, you are not alone, Harley, judging from all the posts, so far. In grade school we watched The Bodysnatchers at my aunt's house after school one day, and that was it, I could not go down to the basement alone, even in the daytime, for years. And at night, fuggedaboudit. I'd run back up the steps like a demon was chasing me, even when I was all grown up.

When my husband and I got married, we were both in our early 30's, but I had never been alone in a building at night in my entire life, having lived mostly in apartments up until then. Our house was on a dark street with no close neighbors, and it was eerily quiet at night. He traveled about half the year back then, and I spent many sleepless nights hearing the boogeyman coming to get me. If a toy had started talking in the middle of the night I would have turned white haired by morning.

It's my considered opinion that only people with well-developed imaginations have this sort of night fear; our minds leap to all sorts of evil possibilities when we hear things go bump in the night.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

_Silence of the Lambs_ was one my friend warned me away from. She also had me give back _Angels and Demons_ after the martinet (assistant principal, inspiration for "The NCLB Murder") loaned it to me. Now that I'm not at that school any longer, I guess you guys could be my early warning system; when in doubt, ask TLC. (After our book club read _Perfume_, I was so disgusted with it that I couldn't bring myself to donate it to library or book sale; I finally put it in the recycle bin. If someone took it from there, I wouldn't feel responsible for it).

Oh my God. There should definately be a ban on all talking toys. Everyone is right, it is always at night. We had two that about gave me a heart attack. They were making weird sounds and I thought someone was braking in. Now, I don't go so nuts. The worst was when my husband was in Iraq and it was just me and the kids. One night I told my cat, I wished she was a German Shepard and if she couldn't be an attack cat then I might have to trade her in. No worries, she's still a loved family member.

I can't do scary books or movies anymore, either.

The first Michele Martinez book I read kept me up more than a few nights! "Most Wanted" is one scary read.

The first scary movie I saw was The Shining. Needless to say it was decades before I saw another one. I HAD to see Silence of the Lambs, as a small scene was filmed at our apartment complex....Never again! I can't look at Anthony Hopkins in anything else without seeing Hannibal and expecting him to do that tongue thing!

I never had the talking-toy issue, but boy - the bumps in the night were, and sometimes still are, a MAJOR issue! I'm with all the "never dark" folks; that, plus our alarm system, plus the fact that we live in a pretty quiet townhouse (so the folks on the other sides will hear me scream) really helps.

When I was a teenager I broke my foot playing basketball. We thought I just had a nasty sprain, but the pain woke me up in the middle of the night. I hopped out to the kitchen to dig out some aspirin (that's where the medicine drawer was) and a box of candy from Valentine's Day, and retired back to my room to read until the aspirin kicked in. Next thing I know, here's my baby sister, eyes the size of dinner plates, asking, in a panicked whisper, whether or not I'd heard that awful noise, and did we need to wake up Mom and Dad because of the intruder . . .

I slept in that sister's room for 3 nights after reading The Shining. Just fyi.

I even kind of like that my house creaks - it makes me feel like I could hear them coming.
Good point! The builder's rep. said that the no-formaldhyed wood my allergist recommended would mean that my floors would creak a bit. I knew there would be an advantage to that.
I prefer dark rooms to sleep in (even move the table with the clock close enough to the bed so I can't see that lighted numbers), but I like the idea of motion-sensors for navigating at night. I have found that the light from a Palm Pilot is just perfect for finding the restroom.
The low-voltage installer guy said there is a setting for pets so they won't set off the alarms (size and heat factors; wouldn't work for my niece's Great Dane) -- but my allergies preclude pets. The builder's rep. nixed the idea of motion sensors on the outdoor lights. With deer and such running in the woods, those lights would be on all the time. (My basement has walls now, with little openings for the windows. I'm so excited!)

Mary, that's exciting! Before you know it, you'll be all snug in your new home.

On the matter of keeping lights on all night, I do it, too, but there are two sides to that idea. As a good friend pointed out, she knows how to navigate her home, but a burglar would not. She refuses to keep lights on at night for that reason.

Hope this post doesn't keep anyone up tonight!

--The Twilight Zone by myself and barely with another person. I still can't get out of my head the episode where a man turned into a slug...ewwww!

Becky, I thought I watched every TZ at least twice, but I don't remember that one. It reminds me of Kafka's _Metamorphosis_ with the guy turning into a cockroach.
I'll have to look for it . . .

There are people who leave the lights off at night? Really? Huh.

I'm usually writing all night, with most of the lights blazing. (Really wrecks havoc changing that schedule when going to a con.) At least I could sleep in the early mornings once the kids were old enough to take themselves to school. Before that, I... well, I don't remember much, just from the exhaustion.

Mary, I guess it could be the Outer Limits. It was so long ago, that I could have forgotten which scary show it was. I only watched a few episodes of each series. I remember it was yucky though.

Malcolm X autobio recommended leaving on a bathroom light when away from home, as that is one room that someone could be in at any hour. Of course, if the bathroom has no window, it's not as effective.
I used to use timers, but mine have become old and creaky and I worry they will overheat. Might be time to get more. . . .

I liked Outer Limits, too -- showed a few selected episodes of that and TZ to classes (finding legitimate reasons to connect them with literature studies, of course). Ah, for the days when television used good writing . . .

I have never been able to do scary books. I'm the only one I know who has never read Stephen King.

I don't really mind the dark so much, but noises are another thing altogether.

Well, I finally found the episode. It was Rod Serling, but it was in his Night Gallery. (Really...all those scary shows run together for me.) Here's the synopsis link if anyone's interested:


Happy dreams! LOL

I haven't read Stephen King, either, Laura, except for a short story that was in The New Yorker about five years ago. That was scary, though.

In my house, it's the smoke alarm that starts beeping in the middle of the night. It's going to be a problem the next time it happens, since I'm too short, even on a ladder, to replace the batteries.

I make it a point to not read or watch anything scary before going to bed or I'd never get any sleep. Since my husband died, I can't sleep unless I leave the television on all night and I have nightlights situated through the house, so it's never completely dark.

I cannot believe that we can get security advice from Malcolm X.

Margie, I know I should be having my own battery-operated toys, but there's this dinner table scene in PARENTHOOD that we had to film for days and it left a deep impression on me. There are two things that your children are guaranteed to find, if you have them in the house, and that's one of them.

p.s. I drive the kids to school and look what I come back to. We are all scaredy cats! Woo-hoo!

Well, wait: is there anyone out there NOT afraid of the dark? Maybe it's you I should be hearing from.

Well, to clarify, I have read a couple of Stephen King's articles in Entertainment Weekly. THOSE I can handle. ;)

Oh: Nancie The Gun Tart had a suggestion that made me think of a great moneymaking idea: A talking toy that makes the sound of a pump-action shotgun racking closed.

What do you guys think? That would scare a burglar, right? Or has this already been done?

Having spent a major portion of my childhood in the country, I am used to the dark. Actually, the only reason for night lights now is that my dog has vestibular disease, and if she has an 'episode' she gets dizzy so the light helps her to find her horizon. Well, that and the mountain of books on my TBR pile....it would sure be a shame to trip over it in the middle of the night. :)

I have never been a Stephen King reader, nor most others of that genre.

I remember going on a date during my teen years, and the jerk took me to see one of the Jason movies! Aaack. Luckily for me, Splash came out a week later and washed the bad away. Whew.

I have night lights in every room so I don't step on a cat! The cats make a good burglar alarm, they would be running across the bed. And a burglar would probably step on a cat toy and break his ass.
Medium John Edward says that spirits like to use their energy to set off talking toys & such. What's really scary is when they go off and there's no batteries in them!

I love Nancie's idea! Add a red laser dot and it could help cut down on crime.
Can you get funding from the NRA to get this on the market?

Since my divorce, I have one television - the one in my bedroom - that stays on from the time I get home from work, until I leave for work the next day. I'm afraid of the dark, and of feeling alone.

As for the rest of the house, outside some fixtures have motion sensors set to trip when crickets chirp, some on dawn to dusk sensors, and others that are solar powered in case of power outtages. Inside, the main lamps have 100 watt bulbs set on timers to come on before dark, and go off for a couple hours before dawn.

The Shining. I read it in 8th grade. Would read 2 chapters in my room, then go spend 1 hour in the living room with my PARENTS and SIBLINGS so I wouldn't be ALONE.

Good luck with the house sale.

Since my divorce, I have one television - the one in my bedroom - that stays on from the time I get home from work, until I leave for work the next day. I'm afraid of the dark, and of feeling alone.

As for the rest of the house, outside some fixtures have motion sensors set to trip when crickets chirp, some on dawn to dusk sensors, and others that are solar powered in case of power outtages. Inside, the main lamps have 100 watt bulbs set on timers to come on before dark, and go off for a couple hours before dawn.

The Shining. I read it in 8th grade. Would read 2 chapters in my room, then go spend 1 hour in the living room with my PARENTS and SIBLINGS so I wouldn't be ALONE.

Good luck with the house sale.

Funny....when my son was little all of the noise making toys that were given him mysteriously disappeared overnight.

Now that he's 17 I treasure the nights where I am completely alone in the house.

Burglar alarm idea. You hear something and press a button and a speaker automatically plays the sound of little running footsteps and and a whining, panicky voice...."Mom, I'm gonna throw up."

If I was a burgler, I wouldn't be able to get out fast enough.

I'm not so much afraid of the dark in my own home. I am, however, deathly afraid of bats (which Everyone says is ridiculous and they do such good things like eat bugs and blah, blah, blah...). One winter break when I was home from college I was sleeping (in the dark...it's not totally random) in my old room and there was a rustling from the air conditioner. Then it got a little louder... then there was a clunking sound and a bat landed on my arm. You probably heard the screaming (mine...the bat was pretty quiet).

I'm all creepy crawly just thinking about it... ugh.

My sister once encountered a bat when she tried to put on her bathrobe and found it had taken up residence in the sleeve.

Oh, dear. I'm sorry to be making everyone relive their scary episodes. Unless it's therapeutic.

Are there any brave people out there? Or recovered wusses?

Oh, and Rita? Am I to understand from John Edwards that these are SPIRITS setting off the talking toys? Because now I feel ever so much better.

Harley, you owe my boss a new monitor. Just remembering that scene in PARENTHOOD made me spit Dr. Pepper all over it. And I guess this is more for Her, Margie, too, but here goes: My stepdaughter had a fire at her house so (for the sake of the kids) she has been living with her mother & stepdad until the house is done. For whatever reason my son-in-law had a porn dvd in his underwear drawer (poetic, no?). The grandkidlets(girl 6, boy almost 5) decided they wanted to watch a movie and went searching through the dresser to find their "Ratatoille" dvd and found the porn dvd instead. They didn't get bored and watched the whole thing. The only question they had was, "Mommy, why did that lady lick the other ladies....?"

I am not afraid after dark. Stephen King was the only horror writer I read. And it is more his storytelling ability than for the horror. I would get scared temporarily, but I could sleep without dreaming about it. There have been only two times I have been truly scared about something, both times Dear Hubby was hunting. "Salem's Lot", the tv miniseries with David Soul & Lance Kerwin, was on and I had to call my mommy after the last epi was over. Really freaked me out! And the other time is really stupid. I was watching "Dressed to Kill" with Michael Caine & Angie Dickinson at 6am. When she was killed in the elevator...it unnerved me for the rest of the day. No night lights or tvs on. I can sleep almost at any time.

My mother used to read us H.P. Lovecraft, Edger Allen Poe and other scary writers as our lunch-time and bedtime stories before I even started kindergarten....which probably explains a lot.....

I love "scary" movies, scary books, scary stories (Mom does a helluva reading of Poe's "Telltale Heart"). I don't even mind the dark. Usually. But there's something about dark basements that I JUST DON'T DO. Ever since I was little, when I'm the last one going upstairs for the night, I freak out just a little when I have to turn off the lights. I just KNOW there are SCARY THINGS lurking in the shadows, waiting for the freedom of that moment when the basement goes pitch black to lunge out and grab whatever unsuspecting child/adult/whatever still happens to be in it's territory. They are the reason the light over the stairs never work. They don't want the light to encroach any further on their hunting grounds. I still remember, when the movie "Pitch Black" came out, nodding and thinking "I told you so." When I do have to turn out the basement lights, I make sure the door at the top of the stairs is open, with a good, strong light on in that room, then I go back down and stand as far up the steps as I can and still reach the light switch. As soon as I've flicked it off, I'm booking it up the stairs as if the hounds of hell are after me (and I'm not entirely convinced they aren't) racing for the safety of the light. When I finally get to the top I slam the door shut and lean against it, heart pounding like it's about to burst out of my chest, thankful that once again "they" didn't get me. Naturally, I was thrilled when my roommate bought a house that doesn't have a basement. Which means I don't have to worry about being abducted/eaten/enslaved until I visit home, or Grandma's. At which times I try very hard not to be the last one out of the basement.

I don't remember that scene from Parenthood (I was unhappy with the marketing of the movie as a comedy), but realize that many of those things look totally innocuous, and the kids would not have a second thought if they saw it. But, if that's your reason for not having one, now I have a good reason for not getting you one. I was looking for a reason, since I had written at some point that I was going to and if I were going to see you this week, I would have to do it then.

Weight off of my shoulders.

Oh, and I love the story of the porn DvD that the children watched all the way through. It's only dirty if we make it that way.

Rita, I have to block that John Edwards comment completely out of my mind!

Saw him in person. I have to say, if I believe anyone, I'd believe him. So here's that block - can't think about him or that comment anymore if I want a peaceful sleep tonight...

Wait -- Josh! You promised me a vibrator at some point? Jeeze, you'd think I'd remember THAT.

Note to self: New House must not have basement. Or attic. Does anyone else remember the Twilight Zone with the old lady and the miniature people in the attic? (or maybe it was an Outer Limits). Please don't show me any scary movies featuring haunted garages, because I need some storage space.

It was Twilight Zone. And Agnes Morehead (Endora) was the old lady. Creepy!

I have a John Edward story. He was on Larry King one night and I was the last caller of the evening. If anyone wants the transcript (and my explainations) you can email me at [email protected]. I am a big cynic at heart, but I have to say the guy has something.

"Promise" is a little strong, the way that children cry, "you promised!" when all you did was say you would do something. So, if that's how you want it, then, yes, I promised. But now I'm a promise breaker, because you have issues from a movie you made 20 years ago, and I wouldn't want to cause harm.

I think witholding an item promised, as in this case, could actually do more harm. Get it for her, Josh!

My stepdaughter was so frazzled by the question, she told the kidlets that the two ladies in question were playing "Doctor". Not very original, but the best she could do on short notice! :-)

I'm a light sleeper. A VERY light sleeper and have been woken by those kids toys many times before. I just wake hubby up and go make him deal with it! *G* I do sleep with the tv on one of those satellite music stations, the screen is black, but still emits enough light to make the room not pitch black. And am I the only one who has to have a nightlight in the bathroom, so that they can check the commode before sitting down? I'm sorry, but I've read of too many weird stories of a snake or such going through the sewers......
Oh, and scary movies? I really like Rose Red, adapted from a Stephen King story, but it scares me badly. My 12 year old will watch it with me and is FINE. Me? I'm finding excuses to hide behind my chair! *G*

Basements - very bad, especially if they still have dirt floors...

Maybe it's the night owl in me but the dark doesn't scare me. My husband worked middles and nights for a long time and being alone at night has never bothered me either. I'll often sit out in my garden during the summer in the wee hours and enjoy the peace, quiet, and the dark.

If you can't read Steven King don't read Jack Ketchum, he's a close friend of Steven's. I met JK at a PW conference he's lots of fun, a charming man, but his books will curl your hair.

No kids in our house so no talking toys except the silly ones Dear Hubby buys for me from time to time. Once the 'cute' wears off their batteries are removed.

Josh, I second Pam's suggestion to buy the vibrator for Harley. Harley, you can keep it with a picture showing a woman using it on her back or on her neck like massage therapy. BTW, I remember that scene in Parenthood. It was really funny!

The only Stephen King book I'm closely familiar with is Carrie, and that's because I saw the movie. I stay away from his books...too scary for me.

And Debby, I wish I had your fortitude and bravery in dealing with dark nights in the country. I have a college friend who lives in the country in the house his grandparents built, and in the summer a bunch of us would hang there on the weekends. I would be sooooo scared during moonless nights since there were no street lights, no outdoor house lights, and no way to see your hand in front of your face. Eeeeekkk! I was always so glad when morning came.

Brandy, you are utterly ridiculous for checking the commode before sitting down. At least, on the 2nd floor. In the basement, however, I think it's only sensible.

My friend Karen got our cats a squeaky toy. They loved it -- especially late at night. One night they chased it so hard, they knocked down the hall closet doors. Don and I were both scared.

You need your OWN dog or cat that remains SOLELY in your custody. Nothing like a living being curled up by your bed or at your feet for comfort. My dog knows the difference between talking toys and strangers.

Also - on the bedstand - Cell phone, flashlight, Bible.

(just bought YOUR latest. It's next in line lol)

Elaine, I love the idea of you and Don huddled together, cringing, begging the squeaky toy for mercy.

Josh, PARENTHOOD was only 19 years ago. Not 20. As if I'd have issues after 20 years. Please.

Becki, I'm there with the Bible?!

It is amazing how dogs know the difference. Our samoyed would look out the windows, doze or whatever after dark. We had an English lab across the street that didn't bark much. when he would bark, our sammy would stand and give that low rumble. And she could tell the difference, because sometimes she would bark like crazy. And when we would look, someone was walking down the street. Would scare the crap out of us in the middle of the night. But it was good to have around.

I IMdB'ed it before I wrote, and I saw that it was released 19 years ago. But, I thought that it had probably been made long enough before release that 20 years was close enough. Plus, allow me a little poetic license, plesae.

Now, can we talk about Santa Barbara? Are you still spooked by hotels with big letters on the roof?

--t was Twilight Zone. And Agnes Morehead (Endora) was the old lady. Creepy!
Actually, the ending was the most disturbing part, but I'd hate to spoil it for anyone.
BTW, that link was to a story about an earwig laying eggs in a man's ear, not someone turning into a slug. I do remember the earwig story. (Oh, and my very observant students figured out that Rod Serling kept his teeth closed when speaking . . .I always wondered why he sounded so different).

Well shucks, Mary! I guess I can't find the right episode. I remember the guy sliming across the floor. Maybe I'm mixing episodes in my memory, or maybe I just dreamed it altogether. I'm going to dig until I find out what show I think I remember! Thanks for your knowledge of these scary stories!

Upstairs [this is that 320 sq ft house] we have enough computer lights going all night that it looks like a small city. Downstairs is a good nightlight.

There are a lot of wooden steps and decks to get up to our place from the street and more steps and decks on up to our landlord's hot tub at the back of the property. The deer think of it as their private highway. If I hear the clatter of steps in the middle of the night, I know that they are the four-footed original landlords, not two-footed trespassers.

Wow, 76 comments ahead of me!
In answer to question #2, no, it's NOT just your house!
We've got our share of talking toys, though most of the time, I just chalk it up (is that even the right word or spelling?) to the kids being out of bed, or the cats goofing off.

food and toys should not talk

This week is National Library Week.
Be sure to hug a librarian this week.

Oh, my God. There's talking FOOD?
Another argument for vegetarianism.

I never had any problem with late night noises until my wife moved the Zombie Hermit Crab into our bedroom. This is the one we've been convinced was dead at least twice (Once its legs fell off). But it always seems to come back to life. Now I can hear the little bastard, its tiny chitinous claws dragging over the gravel in his cage...all. freaking. night.

Dusty, that has to sound creepier than a cat hacking up a hairball! Like fingers clawing at the inside of a casket bwahahaha!


Ok. Husband wondering why I am laughing hysterically . .

Technically yes you are!! (Until you are being read and the next TBR is put in the queue.) BUT you can write quickly and be placed in lin line again . . . .

And I was never afraid of the dark. But I am afraid of the night - I have a troubled young adult daughter . . . . and wonder if I will ever sleep well again. . .

(Dont mean to be a downer BUT now you know why the Bible is the staple, lol)

"Like fingers clawing at the inside of a casket bwahahaha!"

Exactly. Skeletal fingers at that.

. . just chalk it up (is that even the right word or spelling?)


BTW,right now I am dealing with dark stairs to my front door. My dawn-to-dusk light has not been working for quite a while, and now the neighbors' light is off because their renter moved and now the power is turned off. Thank goodness for the itty-bitty keychain light!

"Tiny chitinous claws...fingers clawing the inside of a casket...skeletal fingers..."

And people wonder where Steven King gets his ideas. I think he reads this blog. :)

I learned as a single mom and a 27 year old that if you show that your not afraid then you may just feel it, yes I know this is not always the case I have a nine year old son. I however do hate the dark and always have and always will but very few know it and can tell because I go out at night I read horror stories (not Steven King) never King but his work is good and also I will not watch his work. I do however find it best to read with a low light until I fall into a deep sleep or I can turn out the light.

Alana, surely you have seen "The Shawshank Redemption" with Tim Robbins & Morgan Freeman! That is a Steven King story, with the really creepy horror stuff taken out. "The Green Mile" is another very, very good book & movie that, even though it has supernatural things in it, isn't as bad as, say, "The Shining".

{{{running for cover as I say this}}}

I did not find the movie of "The Shining" scary in the least. I HATED what they did to a very good book. It was too campy and not scary at all. The same with "The Exorcist". What a horrible movie. The book was very creepy (especially since we knew even in the early 70s that the original story was about a young man in St. Louis. Link to the article http://www.riverfronttimes.com/2005-10-26/news/hell-of-a-house/ ) and we woud read it at lunch in high school. But the movie was a bastardized version...too campy, and the pea soup didn't even look real.

Now Helter Skelter, book & movie, scared the beejeesus out of me. Steven Railsback played Charles Manson and should have won an Emmy for that. Still gives me the creeps when ever they talk about Manson being up for parole again.

I was 12 when I went to the movies to see a double feature...Change of Habit with Elvis & Mary Tyler Moore and (get ready) Wait Until Dark with Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, and Richard Crenna. Wow! Bored through the first and scared silly through the second.

I was about 14 when I saw Wait Until Dark, and here's what's weird: even though I was babysitting, alone, that night, watching TV, that movie knocked depression right out of me. I'd been deep into a strange adolescent depression and my mom was worried sick about me, but as the credits rolled on that film, my despair lifted and never returned.

Dusty, we have a hermit crab too. Sometimes I'll be writing at the breakfast table and hear him clicking his shell against the glass of the terrarium while he moves around. It takes a sec until I figure out the source of the sound. It's kind of creepy at first, but thank heavens his home is on our kitchen counter and not our bedroom. I can't stand to hear continuous clicking noises...ever! (Even the small waterfalls that are supposed to help you meditate make creepy-crawlies up and down my spine.)

BTW Dusty, have you used sand instead of rocks for the hermit crab home? It really cuts down on the crab travel noise for us.

Ooohhh! Wait Until Dark...I saw that in the theater with some friends of mine, and were we scared!!! I remember one of my girlfriends jumped so high during the kitchen scene, she almost fell over the back of her seat. At least it broke the tension. ;-)

Becky: we replaced the sand with gravel when we cleaned the cage and the sand was all full of little bugs. The gravel's all we had around, and we keep meaning to get new sand at the pet store. (I can hear my wife saying "what's this 'we' shit, Kemosabe"?)

Until today, I felt ashamed I was such a wuss at being alone at night--in the dark.

Who knew I was in such good company?

That's what we're here for, Lorraine. You Are Not Alone.

But your reaction to WAIT UNTIL DARK is exactly why I write spooky, Harley! There's something really cathartic about going through a scary book or scary movie and, you know, just surviving it.

But I have to admit a talking toy truck in the middle of the night would pretty much slay me.

See you in Pittsburgh tomorrow!! Without talking toys, I promise.

PS: did I mention that Alexandra (and Gregg Hurwitz too) are WONDERFUL WRITERS?

I grew up way out in the country, where the only night sounds were birds, coyotes, dogs, etc. When we moved into town (when I was 17) the night sounds would wake me up several times a night. Not out of fear, really, but out of sheer strangeness.

As for Stephen King books, he holds the distinction of writing the only piece of horror that ever gave me a nightmare...his novel "It". Even the TV movie based on it, with Tim Curry at his creepiest as Pennywise, didn't give me nightmares (tho it did creep me out).

And talking toys? Tools of the Devil, no doubt about it.

Hey very nice blog!! Man .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also...

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