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A Trio of Scary Stories, or Why I’m A Scaredy-Cat

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All my life, I’ve felt a strong bond with cats. You know — sly, sleek, well groomed, naturally in their primitive way. Always a bitch. But, even more closely related, I am also quite the “scaredy cat.”

Get that scary story out of my head, and don’t send me your stupid Halloween links. I will scream, and likely cry.

Though I adore fall weather, the transition from the comforting warmth to the unfamiliar cold can be a trial for me in more ways than one. There’s something intangibly and utterly frightening about the unknown, but especially when the weather is frightful. I cannot ever place my finger on the specific source, but at 19 years of age, the desire to check all of my closets and underneath my bed during the Halloween season is slightly ridiculous.

The few experiences I have had with the “paranormal,” or just plain strangeness, have turned me into this paranoid android. Without the massive amounts of So Weird and Unsolved Mysteries that scared the crap out of me as a small child, I actually might be normal, able to walk into my house alone without thinking a man was standing in the hallway, waiting, with a knife.

The Garage Sale Murderer

My mother’s favorite story, and, essentially, the foundation of most of my childhood embarrassment, is a product of my youthful obsession over scary cinema, as previously mentioned. My mother loved to host annual garage sales with her six closest friends at the time. From dawn until dusk, she worked away as I got to explore with my childhood friend Carlee. My mother was very strict about me going outside as a child, so, as you could imagine, I was thrilled to venture into the great unknown.

As a small child, I had a crazy imagination. In the span of the single day, Carlee and I conceived the thought, which seemed quite real to us at the time, that my neighbor was a murderer.

Looking back, this obviously held no truth, but at the time, we were enthralled in the fantasy. This neighbor, who my family saw a grand total of five times after living next to him for 19 years, had full trash bags in his backyard. They had to contain bodies, right? The chainsaw near his door didn’t add any light to our suspicion. We were certain we had a killer on our hands.

After lunch, the lone time my mother noticed my existence, Carlee and I decided we would catch his evil acts while the adults were too busy to be worried about us. Sneaking into his backyard was relatively easy; there was no dog or even a gate to deter us.

When we arrived at his back door, we were both a little too spooked to barge inside. The neighbor, after all, was possibly a murderer with the ability to kill us. It was probably a good thing that we didn’t, too, because my mother had in the meantime noticed our absence.

Furious as she was, she thought our story was hilarious, and proceeded to tell it to every garage saler for the rest of the day. She also decided, as the neighbor's wife did, to keep a closer watch on what I was reading and viewing on television, and virtually cut out all mystery and suspense. Sad day, it was.

The White Light That Wasn't

Though most people think I am out of my mind when I share this story, I think the source of my fear comes from a particular dream-like experience that I had at the age of seven. Lying in my pink canopy bed after a long day of second grade, I heard someone — a deep-voiced man — saying my name over and over.

It wasn’t quite loud enough for anyone else to hear, but it awoke me out of a deep sleep.

“Courtney… Courtney… come over here!” the voice repeated at least five times.

Terrified, but curious, I opened my eyes, only to find an eerie white light glowing from the far right side of my room. Mind you, yes, at this point I was still sleeping with my closet light on, but that was straight ahead of my bed, not in the general vicinity of the glow.

I never spoke to the voice, mostly out of sheer terror, and quickly closed my eyes, hoping to fall back asleep. When I opened them again, the voice and the light had swiftly disappeared.

What could it have been? Who was that voice? God, or god, or Allah, or whatever … well, maybe.

Since that night, I have wondered what it meant. It’s generally not something I tell people upon first meeting them. No one should think that I’m crazy, nor do they need to know my questions about a higher power.

But, no one I have confided in has had a similar experience. Maybe I’m just one of those special enough to get a visit. Maybe I’m a prophet. I guess I could have even died. A part of me regrets not going over to the light tunnel, but the speculation is so much more fascinating in my head.

Swing Me Right Around

Another hair-curling experience I had came later, the summer after my freshman year of high school. My high school best friend Sarah and I were at my house, up late working on a summer project. We had the tendency to get hyper together, especially after five hours work and delirium coming from Lord of the Flies. Throughout the night we did some crazy stuff, you know, having our own dance party and things like that.

Once we settled down, around 5 or 6 a.m., an extremely odd thing happened. Something to understand about my house is that the doors are not level, which has always created a scare for people who have never been there before. Sometimes, if not closed properly, they swing open … sometimes rather violently.

However, never in my life have I seen one that was completely shut fly open. Naturally, this would happen to me while everyone else in my house was asleep. Sarah and I were recording a video, and out of nowhere, we heard my laundry door hit the wall.

Perplexed, we just stared at each other, wide-eyed and open-mouthed.

Of course, her first vocalized reaction was, “What the hell?”

And me following with, “Who’s there?”

Scared, we decided to go to sleep, in another room of course, immediately. I had no kind of guts to be able to go and see what it was, fearful that it was something macabre and scary.

Obviously, we woke up the next morning, and spoke to my mother about it. Though we were so certain we had seen something the night before, she reminded us that the doors tended to open by themselves sometimes, and that surely we had not seen a ghost.

To this day, we believe otherwise.

In essence, these three scary experiences have defined my inner sense of fear. Many other rational beings do not think of opening doors or random light flashings as a call from the paranormal. This I realize.

Without these few memories, though, I believe I might lack the "scared sense" that I essentially need to survive. Go ahead, make fun, but this is what defines my innermost reality.

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About Courtney Murphy

  • John Lake

    You were a strange child indeed!