We all have things that give us the creeps. Spiders, snakes and RATS are three of the most popular scary creatures. (Rats are my top scary creatures. I’m not crazy about mice, but rats… I’ve been known to give wide berth to construction sites because of rats! Yikes…)
As a writer, I’ve given some thought to how these creatures achieve their out-of-proportion fearsome scare factor. Not being afraid of spiders, I have developed a theory. It’s the quality of the creatures’ movements.
Spiders are quiet and can appear out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly. I was afraid of the spindly “daddy longlegs” spiders when I was a child and I developed an effective coping strategy. It was based on their secretive movements. I would talk to them. I would say, “You stay over there, and I’ll stay over here and we’ll both be fine.” It worked. I’d see a spider on the wall as I was falling asleep and as soon as I was sure the spider was staying on the wall and away from me, I was OK and the spider was OK, too.
Snakes slither. It’s that slithering motion that entrances and charms snake lovers. It’s also that silent, or almost silent, slithering that scares the shit out of many people.
Rats scurry. Even writing about them gives me the creeps. Mice do too, but having lived with hunter cats, I’ve had to make my peace with the occasional mouse. Of course I have had my crazy mice moments. Years ago I actually jumped on top of my desk chair in the office when a mouse scurried across my desk. Yes… it was the scurrying, that rapid movement on tiny feet, that freaked me out.
So far, I have not written full out horror. My scary stories skirt the heart of the genre, but I’m working my way up to it one day. When I do write horror, it will be with the scary, silent movement of creatures that inspire phobias. It’s an almost irresistible element of FEAR! There are many scary stories about the classic fear-inspiring creatures, but what about a new creature? If it shared a silent slithering or a tiny-feet scurry, would that be enough to create a MONSTER?