The Attic

I’m into paranormal stuff.

It’s fascinating to me that collectively, as humans, we can’t seem to hammer down if these things are actually happening or not. Millions of people claim to see ghosts, aliens, and faces of wannabe politicians who would absolutely destroy our country in ways that aren’t even conceivable to the human mind in vegan butter spreads.

I can pinpoint the exact moment that my lifelong obsession (debilitating fear) with the paranormal began and the point in which my sister decided that she loved torturing my very existence with her knowledge of this.

I was always a scared kid. Like always. I don’t think you can fully understand how scared I always was. I don’t know why I was always scared but everything terrified me. If a thunderstorm rolled through I would latch on to my mom’s leg like barnacles on a ship’s hull.

I grew up in the ’90s which, let’s be honest, was a pretty fucking great time to be a kid. Nickelodeon was at the peak of its dominance, the Yankees were forging their dynasty, and Unsolved Mysteries and Sightings were shows that absolutely scared the shit out of me.

(Honorable mention to watching Rescue 9-1-1 with my Grandma)

Now, let’s get back to Unsolved Mysteries and Sightings…

For those of you unfamiliar with those two series they’re the ones that would cause me to run out of our living room, find a corner to hide in, cover my ears and close my eyes. I would wait there until my dad came and got me and he had a predilection for falling asleep for hours in his recliner.

At seven years old you only glean the most necessary information from programs like those and don’t have the opportunity to see the humor in the CGI that depicted events like UFO landings, alien sightings, and, of course, the indisputable proof that Big Foot is an entity that actually exists on this planet and that every person that ever took a picture of the creature just happened to be the worst photographer ever.

For hours I would be subjected to repeats of these two shows enduring the creepy, deep voice of Robert Stack who looked more like a wax figurine than an actual human being. Seriously, I think that dude talked perfectly with his mouth closed.

For what it’s worth I did like Unsolved Mysteries over Sightings for the mere fact that Unsolved Mysteries tackled other things outside of the paranormal. Typically they would show some kind of story about a horrifyingly real serial killer that continued to roam the country looking for red heads and was last seen in Valley Stream. Those VERY REAL stories didn’t bother me as much as the shaky camera work and incessant screaming, heavy breathing, and shouts of “did you see that? DID YOU SEE THAT?!” that accompanied any “raw footage” of a U.F.O. or ghost sighting.

The show that really got to me was Sightings . That show was torturous for me and my sister couldn’t give a shit about how I felt. I’m pretty sure the Geneva Convention would’ve outlawed this if they were aware of what was happening inside the walls of the Peterson household. I endured these episodes feeling like that guy at the end of A Clockwork Orange having his eye held open and watching horrific videos of worldwide atrocities, but without any of those things actually happening. In fact, I’m pretty sure my sister didn’t give a shit either way and would’ve been completely unfazed by my exiting the room at any moment.

One scene from Sightings really burned itself into my brain and, frankly, even thinking about it now stirs up memories that will have me closing the blinds to my bedroom like I did as a child.

During this episode a woman in, uh, Kentucky, because that seems right, heard some noise outside of her house. She figured it was the wind causing tree branches to brush against the side of her home and ignored it. As time went on the sound persisted and the woman had an eerie feeling something was amiss. She slowly made her way to the window on the side of her house and took a deep breath before opening the blinds. A swell of heavy synthesized music blared from the television when she pulled the blinds up to reveal an alien looking directly at her.

The emotionless white face of the alien’s beet shaped head stood there completely overtaking my television and staring directly into my soul. I swore in that moment it could see me and would hunt me down like that serial killer on Unsolved Mysteries. I was hypnotized and completely frozen and when I snapped out of it I ran out of the living room and into the kitchen where I latched myself on my mom’s leg to which she replied “I didn’t hear any thunder.”

After my mother pried me off her leg with a broom she calmed me down and sent my sister and I to bed. As we made our way up the stairs I was apprehensive due to the amount of windows on the second floor of our house. My sister must have noticed my slower pace and cooked up a story in her head to guarantee I wouldn’t sleep until I was 18.

We both turned the corner and made our way down the hallway toward our respective bedrooms until my sister grabbed my shoulder and stopped me. It took me a nanosecond to fully comprehend where we were. Directly above us was the seldom visited attic. I had no idea what was even up there. All I knew was my dad would go up there from time to time and start cursing a lot so I figured at best there was a homeless vagrant living up there and at worst it was the secret hiding place for Santa Claus and my parents kidnapped him for ransom.

My advantageous sister knew that I had deep routed fears of the attic and that I was already on edge from what happened on Sightings earlier that evening.

“You know monsters live up there, right?”

My eyes widened and my heart raced. I couldn’t move and felt helpless and vulnerable. I threw myself against the wall trying to flatten myself as much as humanly possible, doing all I could to shrink myself down to ensure that I couldn’t be reached by the monsters.

When I finally worked up the courage to run into my bedroom my sister stood in the middle of the room with her arms crossed and a Cheshire grin tattooed on her face.

“I heard some scratching on the window, I wouldn’t open the blinds if I were you.”

The dichotomy of her dead pan delivery and smiling face gave me the chills. And even though I knew she was lying I didn’t open my blinds for about 3 years out of fear that an alien would’ve found a ladder (or levitated, I mean they did make it to our planet) set it against our house and decide to stare into my window. I knew in my heart that it couldn’t possibly be true but closing the blinds also helped shield me from thunderstorms too.

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