I thought I knew what fear was. I suppose everyone does. We’ve all had moments or times in our lives when we’ve felt the icy chill of terror clutching at our heart. But this – well, it isn’t even in the same league. I feel as though I’m being stretched like a rubber band, pulled tighter and tighter until there’s only the thinnest little scrap of me left. And pretty soon that’s going to give out.
Maybe events cast a shadow before them, a darkness that bleeds through the years and impinges on the past long before they occur: I don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore. I can’t seem to use my brain properly: I can’t seem to stop and think and get my bearings, so I just go through the motions, while underneath everything is close to breaking point. I keep my gun on me at all times, although I don’t really know why.
When I was a kid there was a monster that lived in my closet. I know that’s a cliche, but it’s one of the most abiding memories of my childhood. Lying there in my bed in the dead of night, covers pulled up to my chin, eyes wide with terror. Staring unseeing into the darkness at the malignant presence I knew was there just beyond my closet door.
I don’t remember when I first became aware of it. I didn’t have a very good time of things when I was growing up, and I think I’ve blotted a lot of it out. Mom drank a lot, and when dad wasn’t away, he was very handy with his fists. Had a temper on him like you wouldn’t believe. Still, the fear I felt for him was nothing compared to the thing in the closet. Night after night I remember it haunting me, radiating a nameless, shapeless threat from behind that flimsy wooden door.
Between my mom’s drinking and my father’s unquenchable rage, our house was never quiet. The walls seemed to echo with shouts, screams and sobs the whole day through. Until night came. After mom had passed out and dad had either crashed out or stormed out for the night again, I’d crawl under my covers and try to will myself to sleep as quickly as possible, before the deafening silence had a chance to sink in.
Of course, it never worked. Freed from the chaos of the day, the house seemed to creak and groan into a new, unsettling configuration that seemed full of menace and threat. My eyes would always inevitably be drawn to my closet with its cheap slatted door and the terrifying monstrosity that slumbered unseen within it.
Scared to look but too frightened to turn away, I’d lie like that for hours, barely daring to breathe. The formless shadows of my room seemed to shift uncomfortably under the weight of my gaze, suggesting dark presences to my already suggestible mind. But it was the thing in the closet that always filled me with dread.