The Ghosts in the Room

Not pictured: Terrifying skeletal woman, encased in mud, reaching it to pull me into the closet when I head to the bathroom.

Whenever I’m in a group of people talking about weekend plans or weekday evenings, I’m scared to tell the truth.

Sometimes when I get a free evening, I like to think of fates worse than death. Then I write those fates up in stories, novels, and screenplays and hope they scare someone else as much as they scare me. I usually eat snacks when I do this.”

I don’t know why I worry, to be honest. When I do tell people I write, I always get support. When I tell people I write horror stories, people who don’t like horror are still happy to be excited for me, in the same way I’m happy for people who “craft.”

I think I’m surprised that, at 35, I’m still trying to write stories as scary as anything I read or was too scared to read when I was a kid. As a freshman in high school, I was referred to as the horror-loving weird kid. Years later, I would use “MrHorrorpants” as my Twitter handle as a way of keeping that child-like spirit alive. I would be the first one to sit down in an elementary library to hear a scary story and the last one to leave the horror movie on opening night.
Truth be told, I thought someone would force me to grow out of this years ago. Since no one has yet, I’m starting to think no one ever will. Yesterday, I wrote a piece on an influential horror movie for Slasher Studios, and I’ll be at Crypticon this weekend to immerse myself in Monster Kid fandom. I have submitted one novel for publication, and I have a reserve corps of novels, short stories, and screenplays waiting for their chance to come into your living room and scare you senseless.

I thought life would be less scary when I was an adult and knew everything. I think most of us are still as scared as we were as kids. You might not believe in ghosts and monsters, but it doesn’t really matter what you believe in. You just need to get frightened sometimes. Maybe sometimes you still get a little scared when you’re alone in the dark, too.

Once, on a long night of being scared after lights out, my big brother convinced me to pretend the monsters were my friends. This relaxed me and I was able to get to sleep, and my brother was able to do the same without me bothering him about monsters. It still makes sense to me. Why not get to know the things that go bump in the night?

As an adult, why wouldn’t I spend time with the creepy stuff? It’s out there. You can leave the lights on and pretend the room isn’t filled with ghosts, but isn’t that scarier?

I still write the scary stuff so I can be my own big brother, holding my own hand through the bad parts of life. If I’m really good at writing (and lucky), I can find bits of beauty in the midst of our terrifying realities.

So on weekday nights and weekends, I’ll still turn the lights out and spend some time with the ghosts in the room. When you think about it, it’s safer that way.
– Axel

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