A guest post by Victoria Laurie
I spent a whole lot of my childhood and perhaps more than a bit of my adulthood being afraid of things that go bump in the night. Like,…terrified to the point of keeping a light on at all times and sleeping on a platform bed lest some spooky entity be able to crawl under it and stab me in my sleep. (Hello, Jason, a la Friday the 13th.)
Much of this was born of sensitivity to spooks from early childhood. My first spook sighting in fact was when I was just three years old.
It started one afternoon after we checked into some old hotel in Pennsylvania. The hotel was well over a hundred and fifty years old and, over breakfast on the way there, my sister had innocently asked why was it that, when she woke up in the mornings, there was sand in her eyes?
My father had replied that every night, to help her sleep, the Sandman came and dropped a little bit of sand there.
It’s funny to me to retell that part of the story, because, in today’s world, I think I’d hesitate telling my six-year-old daughter that every night some guy carrying a sack of sand visited her while she slept.
Anyhoo, my sister, being the logical type, took explanation in stride. I have only the vaguest memory of that part of the story – mostly because some kind waitress had set down a plate of strawberry covered pancakes topped with a generous portion of whip cream in front of me. The rest of the day was lost to a sugar coma, I’m sure.
So, that night my parents tucked my sister and me into the king bed in our suite, and headed off through the door to their suite. Sandy, my sister, lay way across the bed to my left, and I had the spot closest all the way to the right, by the door. Sands fell asleep immediately. I was still wound up a little and drifted only into a light doze.
Shortly after my parents wished us goodnight, I heard the sound of a door closing. It was soft, no more than a click really, but it made me open my eyes and sit up. There, at the foot of the bed, was a dark silhouette in the shape of a tall man with a stove-piped hat atop his head.
In the dim light of the room, he had no discernable features; he merely stood there at my feet. Watching me.
Feeling uneasy I rolled over to my sister’s side. The man at the end of the bed moved along the foot of the bed with me. I nudged my sister. “Whaaaaaat?” she moaned.
“Sandy! There’s a man in here!”
My sister didn’t lift her head from the pillow. “It’s the Sandman. Go back to sleep,” she told me.
I lay back down and rolled back to my side. The Sandman moved with me.
He continued to stand there, watching me for what felt like an eternity. So I rolled back to my sister’s side, (the Sandman following me), and nudged her again. “He won’t go away!” whispered.
“Close your eyes and let him put the sand in,” she advised, still not lifting her head from the pillow.
I remember being very frustrated with her. I didn’t want the creepy dude with the tall hat coming any closer to me. I didn’t even want him in the room. Still, if it would make him go away, I figured I’d give it a try. So off to the other side I went, with the Sandman in tow, and plunked my head down on the pillow, curling myself into the fetal position. Closing my eyes tightly, I waited.
Sneaking a peak, I looked over my shoulder and the Sandman stood there ominously. It was like I could sense his mean little eyes boring holes into me. This time I rolled back over to my sister’s side of the bed and kicked her in the leg. She sat up angrily and was ready to yell at me when she caught sight of the dark silhouette at the end of the bed and began to scream her head off.
Finally! A reaction I could get behind! I began to scream too.
My parents rushed into the room, flipping on the lights as they came, and the Sandman vanished. Poof! Just like that. Gone.
We checked out of the hotel early the next morning after my mother shared more than a few angry words with the hotel staff after one of them admitted they’d given us a room that was reportedly haunted.
Since then I’ve had at least a dozen other such encounters – one that shook me so terribly that I couldn’t drive at night for months afterward. And I never really got over my fears of the dark until I started writing the Ghost Hunter Mysteries.
Writing has always been my therapy, and I can’t think of a better example than how much it’s helped me to write about the scary encounters that M. J., Gilley, and Heath routinely get themselves into. There’s just something about creating a super scary scene, which is so vivid for you as a writer that you can feel and see and sense everything that your characters are experiencing, except that, in this case, you have absolute control over the outcome. It establishes a feeling of confidence, and, after nine books in the series, I’d like to say that I’ve completely overcome my fear of the dark.
I realized just how much when I began writing this particular installment, No Ghouls Allowed and introduced a new spook to the scene. The Sandman.
Did I still get a little creeped out while writing the book? Definitely. But it was a good creeped out. One I had total control over.
Of course, the quart of ice cream I had on hand as comfort food whilst I wrote the book maaaaay have helped too. J