Terrified

Flashback Friday

I opened eight-year-old eyes to the dark silhouette of my living room. It didn't surprise me that I'd fallen asleep on the couch again. I was afraid of the dark, and the orange and white crocheted clown that lived on the top shelf of my bedroom closet didn't help my phobia.

This particular evening happened to be Halloween. I'd stayed home from school as I often did as a child, my mother refusing to allow me to celebrate a day that glorified the devil. I was also banned from watching anything spooky on television, which was why I'd spent the afternoon engrossed in the Christian "news" program, The 700 Club. In this particular episode, a missionary claimed he'd been stalked by a coven of witches, who taunted him by marching in circles around his home.

And that was when I noticed it: Chhh, chhh, chhh, chhh. I didn't know what was making the sound, but it was a constant rhythm drumming in my ears. Chhh, chhh, chhh, chhh. On and on it continued, the persistent drone of footsteps.

Was that really what it was? I wondered, too paralyzed by fear to move. Had the witches come to find me? Had they come to make me pay for my sins?

Chhh, chhh, chhh, chhh.

With eyes closed, I saw them now—a parade of black robed, green faced crones, pointy hats atop unruly manes of black hair. Chhh, chhh, chhh, chhh... their footsteps echoed in my ears. They were belligerent as they marched in a circle around my double-wide trailer, biding their time as my fear got the best of me.

What had I done to deserve this? I had been so good all day, not bothering to beg for candy or ask to go trick-or-treating. Even though I'd wanted to watch all the scary things on TV, I had refrained. I had obeyed. But still, I was being punished.

Chhh, chhh, chhh, chhh.

I couldn't just hear them marching, I could feel their power growing as they carved circles in the ground around my house. Their relentless footsteps terrorized my very core, and even though I was young, I understood that death was imminent.

I prayed and prayed that they'd go away, but God didn't seem to hear me. Chhh, chhh, chhh, chhh echoed throughout the room, the unidentified witches relentless in their pursuits. Why weren't they coming inside the house? Why wouldn't they show themselves?

Chhh, chhh, chhh, chhh.

I took in a deep breath, and summoned every ounce of bravery I could muster. If nothing else, I would face my tormentors, and look them in the eye as they ended my life. I blinked several times, rolling over as I dared to gaze across the room. And that's when I noticed the clock. Chhh, chhh, chhh, chhh it mocked me, the second hand carving a circle of fear into my mind.


Although I eventually realized that the source of my fear was nothing more than a wall clock, the psychological torture I put myself through that Halloween night was the most aggressive I've experienced at any point in my life. There is truly nothing to fear but fear itself.

Happy Halloween.