1. Screaming kids at the coffee-shop: Ghosts tend to be pretty silent. Screaming kids, very evidently, are anything but. And they tend to haunt my favourite cafes with more enthusiasm than any tortured soul could possibly haunt my bedroom. I usually view coffee-shops as potential sanctuaries where I can spend a peaceful half hour just sipping cappuccino and reading.
Parents, on the other hand, view them as places where they can spend a peaceful half hour just sipping cappuccino and chatting while their kids annoy some other poor bastard. Preferably on the other side of the room. And I can’t say I blame them – if I had kids I’d probably try to foist them on someone else too. But as it is, I don’t particularly appreciate the tactic. So yes, if I look into a cafe and find a calm looking parent having coffee while the kid raises hell I get more scared than if I had to look in and find a screaming banshee. Oh wait; same difference.
2. Leaving the TV on standby at night: This is the only entry with some sort of supernatural connection. Sometimes (many times) I fall asleep while watching TV and I don’t bother actually switching it off. The set is programmed to go on standby after a certain hour: this is because it’s extremely intelligent and knows that if it’s past midnight I’m likely to have snoozed off. Problem is that when I get up in the middle of the night to a monitor that is not *quite* dead but is giving off weirdly pixellated static… I get more than a little bit freaked out. Remember Poltergeist anyone?
The situation usually results in a soul-stripping debate: do I get up to switch it off, thus risking being sucked into some horrible otherworldly universe? Or do I pretend it’s not there and try to fall back to sleep, all the time keeping one eye out for possible poltergeist activity? Hey, I never claimed I’m totally sane, did I?
3. Getting stuck in an elevator with a stranger: Few things are freaky as this one. Forget all about the obvious fear of small places, it’s more the “social” aspect that worries me. Picture the scene: elevator grinds to a halt. Panicky looks are exchanged between yourself and Stranger and the alarm button is hit. Repeatedly. Now it’s just a question of waiting it out.
You give Stranger a couple of surreptitious looks from under your eyelashes. You catch Stranger doing exactly the same thing. You both look away in embarrassment. After a couple of seconds, one of you decides to break the uncomfortable silence.
“Hope they don’t take too long to get us out of here.”
If you’re the one who broke the silence, you’re probably cursing yourself for uttering what has to be the king of inanities. If Stranger broke it, you’re probably thinking that of all idiotic things to say did he have to pick the most obvious one?
Five minutes go by. You and Stranger have exhausted the following topics: the weather, work, government-bashing. You rack your brains for something new to say when suddenly you notice Stranger has a patch of dark sweat under his arms. You’re so grossed out that the doughnut you quaffed earlier almost makes an uninvited reappearance. What stops it is the sudden realisation that you have a very similar patch of sweat under YOUR arm too.
Yes, some things are scarier than Casper could ever be. Happy Halloween weekend