Friday, November 13, 2015

The Interview...

“Do you mind if I record this?”

“No, I don’t mind, but I don’t think it will do you any good.”

“Why is that?”

“Something in the tone of my voice, or the pitch, I don’t know, but something seems to cause fits with recording equipment. But go ahead. I’d just still take good notes if I were you.”

“Okay, well, I’ll try anyway. So let’s begin. You stated that you were the last of a dying breed. Why do you feel this way?”

“When I first got in to the business there were hundreds of thousands of us with more coming up every day. Now? It’s few and far between to find someone willing to put in the work.”

“Why do you think that is? Is it a change in the environment or a change in desires?”

“That’s part of it. The environment. Fifty years ago? Kids went to bed, the light was turned out, they were left to deal with things on their own. Now? There’s a night light in every room. If they even sleep alone. The door is open, their parents come running for every slight whimper in the night. You cannot do good work like that. And if you do find a kid on their own they just aren’t scared anymore. I blame the movies.”

“The movies? You mean like Monsters Inc?”

“No, though those were pretty funny. I appreciated what they tried to do there, say we are from a different world and that we learned how to live on laughter. That’s adorable.”

“So you aren’t from another world?”

“Please.We have been here as long as you have. Maybe we were even here first.”

“So why do you blame the movies if it’s not those movies?”

“Kids today watch scary movies and they aren’t scared. Because their parents are sitting right there explaining how they work. Why it’s not real. Why it’s not scary. So when they do see something, they can talk themselves out of it. They don’t think anything is real. The things that go bump in the night are just things. Movies and parents. Just killing off the industry.”

“But you are still working?”

“Oh yeah, I adapt. I saw it in the 70s when everyone started sleeping in platform water beds. A whole generation of Unders was forced out of work.”

“Unders? That’s how you refer to yourselves?”

“That’s a job division yes. Unders, under the bed monsters, Closets, those are the ones in your closet, DH, those are dark hallway dwellers, Subs, those are the basement guys. You get the point.”

“Interesting. And you all work together?”

“Yes, we all work for the same company. Just different specializations. Though an Upper could take over for Sub pretty easily and I’ve spent some time as a Closet when that was more effective, but usually you train in one area, you stay in that area.”

“So tell me something about what it is you actually do.”

“You don’t know?”

“Well, I have a general idea, you hide and scare people. But there has to be more to it than that.”

“There is so much more. I don’t hide and scare people. I am a growth facilitator. I am one of the things that makes you stronger. Because I can’t actually kill you. The rules you know.”

“The rules? So there are actual rules?”

“Of course there are rules. There are always rules. I only work at night. I only work in the dark or the deep shadows. I cannot actually kill you. I must respect the blanket. Though I have no idea why anyone wouldn’t do that one just naturally.”


“Yes, it nature. Think about it. How do you protect yourself from the Things that go Bump in the Night?”

She stopped and thought.

“Don’t take too long here, you already know. Imagine you are in your bed and you get that feeling, that creeping up your arm feeling. That someone is watching me feeling. What do you do?”

“I hide under the blanket.”

“Exactly! And who taught you to hide under the blanket?”

She looked puzzled, “I don’t remember. But it had to be someone. I mean I know we all did it.”

“You all did do it. And nobody told any of you to do it. It’s natural. You hide under the blanket and I will never touch the blanket. It’s the way it’s been since time began. Something in your little lizard brain that still acts on instinct recognizes the safety of the blanket and something in my giant lizard brain recognizes the threat. So you use it, I respect it. And I wait for a foot, or a hand to drop out from under it so I can take it.”

“But if you can’t kill us, then why wait for a hand or foot?”

“What if I decide to break the rules? You never know if that night, the one you sleep with your arm dangling off the edge of the bed is the night I say, ‘Fuck it, I was going to quit anyway’ and just take you.”

She shuddered.

“See? That’s why it’s important. You just never know what an Under is capable of. I mean we aren’t as creepy as a Sub, they work all the time, day or night. No lights in the basement after all.”

“Okay, so back to how you adapted. How you stayed in your line of work when so many have been pushed out.”

“I recognized early on that though the children might have been our bread and butter in the early years now that the adults were hovering so much that wasn’t going to work. So I asked myself, why are the adults hovering? I mean their parents didn’t hover. Why are they hovering? And I realized they never got over it. And so they wanted to make sure their kids never had to experience it at all. Well….you see where that would lead right?”

“No. Actually I don’t. I’m sorry, why would that lead to anything other than a whole generation of kids who aren’t scared of the umm…Unders?”

“The kids might not be scared. But the adults still were. So I just switched up my routine. Instead of going into little Johnny’s room, I head straight for mommy and daddy’s. Now it takes a little more, let’s say creativity to scare them, but it can be done. I have good partners.”

“Partners? Like the Closets and the Subs?”

“Nah, those are co-workers,I mean partners. Hey, do you mind if I smoke?”

She was horrified, “Yes, actually I do. My father died from lung cancer. I cannot stand to be around it.”

“See? Partners. We work together, you and I. You tell me what you are scared of and I whisper it to you in the dark.”

“You use people’s fears against them? No wonder you are monsters.”

“Hey, now. Don’t come at me like that. Just because you are a non-scarer doesn’t give you the space to judge me in my world. You need to understand that scare-neutral might be scare-normative where you are living, but that doesn’t make me a monster.”

She sat back a bit in her chair, “Oh I am sorry, I didn’t realize.”

“See? Partners. I was with a social activist for a few months last summer. I learned a lot of tricks from her that I can apply in my work now.”

“Wow. Okay, what else do you use?”

“Mostly it’s like judo. I just take their momentum and work with it. Don’t fight the person you are working with, flow with them. Like what I said about the activist? The things I learned from her I can only use on a certain set of people. You have to be inclined toward caring what people think of you for that to work. Ironically it’s the people who are most kind that worry about being kind. If I used that on some dude who prides himself on his “I’ll never be PC” mantra, that wouldn’t work at all. BUT…whisper in the ear of that guy that he’s a failure at work? That people are talking about him behind his back. That they think he’s weak? Well he’s tossing and turning all night and I am just basking in the waves of fear coming off of him. If I’m really on my game I might get both him and his wife. She’s laying there wondering what that text he tried to hide from her said while he is afraid she saw that text he tried to hide from her. Or maybe I can get them both afraid that they are bad parents, or don’t have enough money, or aren’t attractive anymore. So many things to work with.”

“So what do you do with that fear?”

“It sustains me. The only thing that feeds fear is fear. I couldn’t exist otherwise. I make you afraid, you feed me. Partners.”

“Do all of you feed on fear?”

“Yes. We all do. And if you get a lot of us in one space then the cycle is pretty constant. Awake, almost asleep, asleep you are in a solid state of dread.”

“Give me an example of how that would work.”

“Say you’re sitting on the couch watching TV and you hear a noise from upstairs, but you know you are home alone. You get a little twinge of fear. Now you might tell yourself it’s just the house settling, but you know.”

“Well it is probably just the house settling.”

“You think? What a weird thing to think. I mean what does that mean anyway? The house is settling? It’s something your father probably told you when you were little and so you never questioned it. But for the house to settle it would have had to move during the day. And isn’t that even more frightening than realizing it’s an Upper taking a little walk in the attic, or maybe a DH pacing upstairs waiting for you to come up. Hoping that tonight is the night you don’t turn on the light, or the bulb burns out…”

“Ummm, are all of the Things that Go Bump in the Night subject to the same rules?

“The same rules? No, each division has their own rules.”

“So can some of them actually kill you?”

“Actually kill you or just scare you to death?”

“Is there a difference?”

“To an Under maybe, but to a Sub? Well, they walk a fine line.”

“Just the Subs?”

“Well all of us really. Given the chance there is no telling what we might do. Like right now your foot is uncovered…”

She woke with a start. A cool breeze playing against her uncovered leg. She shivered and pulled it under the blanket. Then decided to go ahead and pull the blanket over her head. Just in case. She tried to not hear the soft laughter coming from under her bed…

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