Horror fans, you’re in for another treat today. Horror writers, Adam Ickes, Kym Darkly, K.C. Harper, and Dylan Morgan share with us their scariest childhood memory and why they are who they are … horror lovers.
From Adam Ickes:
There were a lot of things that drew me into the world of horror when I was young. Looking back on it, I never really stood a chance of escape. I was bound to be permanently drawn to the darkness and the things lurking in it–both real and imagined. Most of those memories of the things that pulled me into this world of darkness aren’t all that scary. Things like sneaking downstairs after my parents had gone to bed to watch “Tales from the Crypt” or other such shows/movies come to mind, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about. Instead, lets discuss a fairly common source of fear in children.
The basement of my mother’s house was an unsettling place for me when I was young. There are no windows and the only entrance/exit goes through the kitchen on the floor above. It’s always damp and musty and is prone to water seeping through the walls. I hated going down there, especially alone. I was all but certain some nameless, faceless creature lived under the stairs just waiting for the opportunity to grab my ankle as I passed by. I don’t think there was a time as a kid that I walked those stairs calmly when I was alone. It was always a mad dash to the top or the bottom while holding my breath.
Still, that’s only part of the story. There was a time I went down there with my older brother. I don’t remember what we were looking for. Probably a screw driver from my dad’s workbench or something of that nature. It didn’t take long to find, but he was back up the stairs and switched the light off on me before I even had a chance to turn around. I was left standing in the middle of the dark basement thinking about that thing that lived under the stairs. Naturally I looked in that direction. I didn’t see the monster, but I did see a faint orange glow on the floor cast beneath the furnace that sits beside the stairs. That was the first time I’d ever seen that glow and it terrified me. I didn’t know what it was at the time and I was freaking out too much to care.
I did what any kid would have done. I ran up the stairs as fast as I could. I tripped on the way up–no doubt on the outstretched fingers of that thing under the stairs–and crawled the rest of the way to the top like a spider on crack. That is to say as fast as I could physically move.
To make matters worse, my brother–wonderful sibling that he is–had locked the door at the top of the stairs. I never understood why that door needed a lock when there wasn’t any other way in or out. For awhile I just assumed it was to keep the thing under the stairs trapped down there. I knew how to unlock the door from the basement side, but I also knew it would require me to go back down in the basement and get a nail from my dad’s too bench. You see, there is a little hole in that side of the doorknob that if you stick something small enough into you can pop the lock. A nail works beautifully.
I flipped the light switch and made my way back down the stairs–again as fast as my legs would carry me. Even with the lights on that basement gave me the creeps. There wasn’t enough bulbs so the corners were always doused with shadows where any number of things could have been hiding. I was too afraid to look back toward the stairs. I knew the thing would be there watching me, emboldened by my fear.
I grabbed one of the many nails from one of the many bins on the work bench and actually walked back to the steps backward. If I was going to be eaten I didn’t want to see the thing that was going to eat me. I even walked up the steps backward. The going was painfully slow and agonizing, but I made it to the top unscathed. I popped the lock and left the nail behind some exposed water pipes at the top of the stairs in case I ever needed it again. (I did. My brother developed a habit of locking me in there.)
Over the next couple weeks I didn’t set foot in the basement again, but that orange glow on the floor danced in my memory. Something about it had captivated me, entranced me. The urge to see it again eventually became unbearable and I did something I’d never done before. I opened the basement door and walked down the stairs without turning the light on. I kept my back to the stairs until I got to the wall on the other side of the room–not out of fear of the thing under the stairs, but out of fear that the light wouldn’t live up to my memory of it. I turned around with my eyes closed and sat down on the floor. When I finally opened my eyes the light danced on the floor just as I’d remembered it. I don’t know how long I sat there, but it was awhile.
Over the years I’ve watched the light dancing on the floor many times. There was never anything paranormal that happened there in that basement, but that dancing light spoke to me somehow. It made me feel comfortable in the dark. It’s been awhile since I’ve done that, but even to this day–as a grown adult with a family of my own–the urge still sinks in every now and then. I don’t know what I’ll do if my mother ever sells her house. My furnace doesn’t have the glow. My mother’s is the only one I’ve ever seen that does.
I was afraid of the dark until I discovered that light–my light. Now I’m as much at home in the dark as I am out of it. It’s porcelain dolls that do me in now with their pale skin and their creepy, dead eyes. I hate those things.
From K.C. Harper
As a child I always loved Halloween and anything horror, but at the same time there was a certain fear factor to it that scared me. I think the thrill of the scare is what attracted me so much to my love of horror. As a horror writer this memory and other memories from childhood that attracted my attention to this genre are always present when I write my stories. I always try and focus on what I know would frighten me, or draw my attention to the horror factor.
For me, it’s more than gore. I am more about the unknown, the mystery behind the horror and darkness. The memory I remember most as a child was one year on Halloween, I was around 7 or 8 years old and someone was dressed up as Freddy Kruger. Now mind you, I had seen the movies before this and was scared out of my mind (still to this day as an adult I get scared watching any of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies).
This one particular night on Halloween when I saw the boy dressed up as Freddy Kruger it scared the life out of me (not literally, but felt like it). I had nightmares, hated going out for candy on Halloween after that for a few years and it just stayed with me even to this day. Being a horror/mystery writer now I look back and laugh at how much this scared me but I also realize it was moments like this that drew me into the horror genre of writing and the true passion I have for it as a writer.
From Kym Darkly:
I grew up in Cornwall, England. It is a very romantic place surrounded by ocean, cliffs and castles. It was a wonderful environment for a child’s imagination to soar and wander.Tales of magic, ghosts and beasts were frequently read to me in my childhood. There were also many discussions about mysteries like Stonehenge and happenings like The Devils Footprints.
It’s one thing to hear and read about supernatural things, but it is another to experience them. I have only once, as I recall, seen a ghost and I only saw parts of it at that – mostly limbs, which is pretty creepy. I think there are many factors that led me to become as inquisitive as I am about the spiritual world and what horrors may lie there, but the Ouija Board experience was the most concrete. It’s not a super scary story from an adult’s perspective I suppose, but it is one that I will never forget.
I was about eleven years old. It was a sunny day and my parents were not home. They were very good at trusting me alone and they knew that I liked my solitude even as a kid. I was a very independent child and could take care of myself. I would usually spend my time creating something quietly in my room.
It was mid-afternoon when my friend Louise knocked on the front door of our house and asked if I would like to play with some other friends across the street. I didn’t know the owners of the house, but still I agreed and went over. There were about six of us, all crammed into a tiny space. In this part of the world you might call it a sunroom. Over there we called it a conservatory. It was an extension of the house on the front that was mostly made of glass.I had never seen an Ouija board before. I had never even heard of them, but the kids filled me in fast. They told me about the planchette and that we would put our fingertips on it, but that we were not to force it to move. The spirits would do that.
I remember not taking it very seriously and not really believing that the planchette would move, but we quickly were led by Louise into a very quiet and solemn concentration on the board while she asked it questions – ostensibly summoning a spirit of some description. Much to my surprise, the planchette did indeed move and although I wasn’t moving it myself, I remembered thinking that surely one of the other kids was. Louise asked a few questions and the planchette moved around the board spelling out answers in short words or returning to the words ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ until it stopped answering all together.
We sat and whispered a bit, wondering why it had stopped. I personally thought that whoever was pushing it had grown tired. I felt that we had reached the end of our game and that it was time to finish, but Louise asked “the spirit” one more question. Suddenly a loud noise blared over top of us! At first we all screamed, as the tension was pretty high. Then we figured out what the noise was: the radio. The reason this was so startling was that it was nowhere near any of us and it had switched on by itself – blasting.
The kids were all very freaked out by this, as we all took it to be an answer. It didn’t want to talk anymore and its response seemed angry. What was scarier to me was that a so-called spirit (as now I was convinced) could actually have a physical effect on our environment – which was terrifying for a kid. We were all so scared that we decided to leave and to never play this game again.I couldn’t get home fast enough. I remember running across the street and into my house, slamming the door behind me and locking it. I felt safe, at home. My parents were still not home and I was still alone, which now felt a bit creepy.
Thinking about this unusual experience, I walked into the kitchen and stood away from the window so that I couldn’t be seen across the street. I stared at the conservatory trying to make sense of all that happened. I was about two to three feet away from the dish rack that held clean dishes in front of the window.A glass flew off the rack horizontally, sailed past my body and smashed on the floor behind me. I was petrified. There was no way on this earth that anything could have knocked it off. The windows weren’t open. No gust of air could have blown it off. No cats were indoors and I wasn’t anywhere near it. It had moved all by itself.
I ran up to my room and waited for my parents to come home. I didn’t tell them about the glass, as I thought they would be angry, but that same week one of our cats caught fire when it rubbed up against a heater. It was terrifying and chaotic, as we all flew around trying to catch the cat so that we could help her. Luckily the cat was okay. She ran around and around until the flames finally died out. It was yet another spooky event. It could have been a fluke, but it just seemed so bizarre and unusual. I was afraid that whatever we had summoned by that Ouija Board had perhaps followed me home.Whatever the case, I prayed and bargained with this spirit to leave me alone and I promised that I would never underestimate the power of the spirit world again, and that I would not fool around with such things as Ouija Boards ever! I had experienced things that were not supposed to happen and I didn’t want to see the full extent of its power.
There were no more strange happenings at the house after this, but the experience did leave in me a fascination with the spirit world and also with the world of horror. I find anything not easily explained and mysterious intriguing.I like to write stories to explore all things horrific and supernatural, about things that scare me. I like to create stories about things that could happen, but in truth I don’t think I would go digging around summoning demons or calling on spirits too much in real life. It’s just too risky and dangerous.
From Dylan Morgan: