When you were a kid, Halloween was the best. The feeling of faux-terror as night fell, all the time knowing that ghosts weren’t real and your next-door neighbour wasn’t a witch, she was an eighth-grader called Susan. But, you’re a grown up now and you’ve realized the world is a genuinely terrifying place. Here are a few things that are scarier than Halloween will ever be.
SOMETHING TOUCHING YOUR FOOT IN THE SEA
Sea sewage, a shark, a pirate’s restless skeleton seeking closure? Who knows, and quite frankly, who cares. When you can’t see what’s touching you, the terror is real.
Blood pumping in your ears, you head for the safety of the shore as fast as dignity allows. The stifled yelp that came from your direction? That was just the wind, you swear.
ORDERING WINE ON A FIRST DATE
Yeah, we’ll have the, er, ‘Chateau’ (I know that bit) um Pw-. Pui-. Puuuuuuuuu-. 'Pwaingelly?’
Ordering French booze is fraught at the best of times, but exponentially so when you’ve got someone to impress. And deep down, you know you’ll never get it right, no matter how many little hand gestures and fake accents you use.
ACCIDENTALLY OPENING PHOTOSHOP
Unless your laptop was made post-2015, accidentally opening the Blue Bastard will cause it to slow down like a test car hitting a brick wall. You only put it on there because your friend had a spare version and you wanted to make memes. Now you feel a shiver every time your cursor goes near it. It would be better to get rid of it, but you know you might open it by mistake.
SOMEONE DISCOVERING YOUR FIRST EMAIL ADDRESS
Back then your biggest fear was that WeEdSmOkEr69@aol.com would be taken. Now, the thought that somebody could link the outwardly self-possessed and confident person you are to this display of look-at-me nerdiness makes your mouth go dry. Should’ve just got a pager instead.
THINKING THERE’S ONE MORE STEP
Beetlejuice. Candyman. Freddy Krueger. That moment when there’s nothing but air between you and a mildly sprained ankle. It’s not even close.
Whether it’s the fear of pain or the fear of stumbling like a foal in front of whoever’s lucky enough to see it is irrelevant. The fact such terror exists and is ready to rush up at you from the bottom of the stairs is enough to shatter any residual childhood confidence.
THE GNAWING MALAISE AT THE CORE OF HUMAN EXISTENCE
The deep dread that dwells within us all. Does it come from the worry that our purpose is out there waiting, while sand falls ever through the hourglass? Is it caused by a suspicion that no matter what you do with your time on Earth, you’re not doing the right thing?
Existential discontent is a fear that starts small and grows until it colours your life, until you find yourself asking “What is the point of anything unless you know the point of everything?” And it’s never, ever, going away.
Giant, belligerent birds with teeth. Fuck geese.