Wednesday, October 29, 2014

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! A Post By Jessica McHugh

My Malevolent Muse

I’m scared of everything. (Actually, let me rephrase that.)
My brain convinces me I’m scared of everything.
The truth is, I don’t mind watching or reading horror stories, and I have no problem with rollercoasters or haunted houses. I don’t think ghosts, spiders, or clowns are going to kill me. And I doubt that robbers are going to break into my house and assault my family. Yet, there’s an annoying little devil who lives in my brain (we’ll call her “MADGE”) who takes slightly scary scenarios, magnifies them by a hundred, adds more gore, and twists them with such insane paranoia, I’m left wide-eyed in my bed, certain my death lurks just around the corner.

My friends say they love going to haunted houses with me because I shriek like a maniac at everything. I know I shouldn’t be scared—for the love of Clive Barker, I used to work in a haunted house—but I can’t help myself. Even though I know none of it is real, MADGE says, “But what if a madman snuck in, killed an employee, and stole his or her costume (or face!) so they could have a bloody field day with the unsuspecting customers?” I realize that probably wouldn’t happen, but good old MADGE says it could.

Likewise, I know most rollercoasters tracks aren’t going to crumble beneath me and send the car careening off the rails into the nearby lake. I know I probably won’t experience the struggle to hold my breath while escaping my restraints and worrying about my husband breaking free too. But MADGE says, “Probably isn’t definitely.”

A Daddy Long Legs won’t kill me—unless a secret enemy of mine has injected it with a mutagenic poison that, over several nights of tiny bites, gradually transforms me into a bristly spider-hybrid. Scary novels won’t hurt me—unless I think about the characters so much they manifest into flesh and blood creatures that punish me for ripping them from their paper-abode.

See? MADGE works in mysterious, malevolent ways.

Granted, this doesn’t prevent me from living my life. I still ride rollercoasters and watch scary movies. I try to make sure the latter occurs during daylight hours, but sometimes even the sun can’t triumph over my nightmares. It usually takes me a long time to fall asleep, so MADGE has ample opportunity to remind me of everything scary I’ve ever seen, read, or thought. And there’s nothing I can do to stop her.

But the truth is: I don’t want to stop her. As much as she tortures me, I thank my lucky stars every day that I have MADGE in my life. Even if she’s a little overactive at times (okay, most of the time), and earns me tons of playful ridicule from my inky horror cohorts, 

I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without her. So she convinces me I’m terrified of everything. Meh. Big deal. When the time comes to write horror, I just hand the pen to my malevolent muse, and that beautiful iMADGEination delivers a damn good scare.

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