Each summer day has seen a tiny bit shorter than the one that preceded it with the sun setting earlier and earlier. Soon it will be fall when the rush of nighttime into your life after work hours is inevitable. The balance of lightness and darkness shifts andEveryone comes home in the dark.
Tonight, April 30th, is Walpurgisnacht, also known as Witches Night. Arriving at the halfway point in the year between the last and the next Halloween, the night was feared to be marked by witchcraft and bonfires were lit to ward off evil spirits and witches.
In winter, everything is frozen solid. Blades of grass are like alarm systems as the slightest footfall creates a crunching noise when someone moves. A short investigation into the source of a sound in the backyard gets more excruciating each step you take away from the warmth and safety of your house. It’s even scarier if you keep hearing the sound of footsteps and no one appears to be there. On cold winter nights, you can see your own breath in the air, but when you can’t see the breath of a stranger, it’s even more terrifying.
Soon it will be Halloween. Trick-or-treaters will go from house to house looking for exterior lights so they know someone is home. Some houses are more decorative than others. Who knows if the houses with the brightest lights are there to lure children to their doors like a spider luring a fly.
When you live in a rural area, there are times late at night that you may be completely alone. You may feel that if something happened to you, no one could possibly witness it or call the police. Sometimes you wonder if the nearest neighbor may have already met some terrible end. It’s terrifying to know that no one may actually hear you scream.
This is from last night. I’d had Diet Coke with dinner, the regular kind and not the caffeine-free type I usually have when I want a glass at night. I never have caffeine after 2 in the afternoon and last night I remembered why. I tossed and turned for what seemed like hours. I kept checking my phone to see the time to decide if it was worth it to get up to go to the bathroom or if I should just lay there until it was time to get out of bed. Finally I said to hell with it and got up. It was 4 and I had to get up at 6 for work. It was pitch black out as if there was no moon. I went in to the bathroom and that’s when I heard it. At first I thought it was someone knocking on the front door which freaked me out, but then it stopped. I waited and listened and then the same sound reverberated again somewhere out in the darkness. The bathroom window was open a crack to let some air in and then I reaed it wasn’t coming from the front of the house, but the back. It lasted for only a few seconds, but then it repeated maybe 10 seconds later. This went on and on. It was almost like wings fluttering as if a bird was caught in some kind of trap. I wasn’t about to go investigate in the dark so I went back to bed, but I didn’t get a wink of sleep since I couldn’t stop thinking about it
The darkest parts of the walk home almost always are the loneliest. People are never around when you wish you had some company. When someone disappears, there are rarely any witnesses. Darkness is so powerful it keeps you from reachnig anyone who could possibly help you.
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New York’s subway stations are a subterranean maze of dank spaces with no relief from the heat when the trains are delayed. The heat doesn’t even let up at night. It actually feels like it’s trapped down there with you.
The heat is enough to drive anyone a little crazy. Imagine what it does to people who are already crazy…people who may just happen to cross paths with you in an empty subway station at night.
Also, when you are in the subway, you are below the level at which bodies are buried, six feet underground. I’m sure that does something to the mind’s of people who think they see ghosts, too.
Loneliness is a palpable thing. It can eat away at every part of you. It gets you to be silent and hear sounds you never heard before and whose origin you can’t explain. It’s scary to be alone and think of how long it would take for anyone to even find you if something bad happened to you. Scaring yourself like this is a good thing if it gets you to go out and meet new people. Always try new things. Unfinished business is a good motivator to get through bad times.