I tend to have an over-active imagination, to the extent that I can turn practically any situation into the screenplay for a sequel to The Shining in my mind. It is for this very reason that John nick-named me “Little Stephen King” long ago.
It’s not that I actually think bad things are happening all around me. It’s just that I see the potential for a great murder scene where others might simply see a regular everyday occurence. Example: In our last house we had some strange neighbors who oddly enough kept marble sculptures of upturned faces buried in their yard so that it looked as if the living-dead were peering at us from the underworld every time we walked down our driveway. Although they were strange (they also had a nun statue wearing full habit in their front window), they never bothered us and were fine neighbors. Of course, their yard alone was enough material for me to come up with an elaborate story in my head about the torture devices and captive children they surely kept in their basement. I had such a long time to develop this story that by the time we moved I had even made up names for the victims and staged a breakout scene, which included a heartfelt scene where we adopted several of the damaged children.
And there are less obvious examples, too. Like if my kids are 2 minutes late rounding the corner on the walk home from school, I can vividly imagine their kidnapping and recovering right down to the Oprah special where we all cry as we describe the reunion. Or if I take a desolate road home and see a car coming up from behind, I write out a scene in my head where one car forces the other to the side for an impromptu robbery that goes wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not crazy. (well, maybe, but this isn’t the source of the crazy). It’s not like I think these things are actually going to happen, or that I experience anxiety about them happening. It’s more like I just can’t help but ‘write’ out in my head a gruesome end to many things I see happening. Isn’t that how all the good horror books/films get us anyway? We are lured into a scene from everyday life and then–da dum. da dum. da dum –evil is lurking just around the corner. It’s all really just a literary exercise; the only problem is I can’t bring myself to actually write any of it down. I am, in fact, just too chicken.
It’s true: I won’t watch or read anything scary. Which is why it’s so strange that I get such strong ideas about how these awful stories could play out. I don’t even have anything to base it on–I have no idea where it comes from. I don’t want to be Little Stephen King, it just happens. (By the way, I do not pretend to share his talent for writing, only a tiny bit of his warped view on life). This explains a lot about my nightmares, too. For years I thought my nightmares were run-of-the-mill scary. Then I listened to John and a few friends recount their terrible nightmares and I realized that the garden variety bad dream comes nowhere close to what my mind can conjure. I tried sharing some of what I dreamed and quickly got the “you have three heads” stare.
Which is scary enough without the running horror film in my head.