17 October 2011

Chills and Thrills

Our October theme is about dragons and other creatures who chill us and thrills us. It made me wonder why we love them so much. Why do we like to be scared out of our wits? Why do we keep coming back for more?

My son is a perfect example. Halloween is one of his favorite days of the year and not just because of the mass-candy-collection. He loves to dress up to scare and be scared by ugly, snarling, fanged, blood dripping creatures of the night.

I'll never forget the first time we took him to a haunted house. He was a tiny thing and I didn't want him to go, but he begged and whined until we finally agreed to take him in.

The second that we stepped past the curtain, I regretted it.

Imagine a dark "cemetery" complete with gravestones and moaning ghosts set up inside a theater. We followed a guide as she walked slowly through black curtained tunnels, under drippy spiderwebs, and passed strobe lights. Masked zombies, headless horsemen, terrifying ghosts, and freaky goblins followed us, rattling chains and reaching through the curtains as if to snatch us away.

I was looking for the exits.

My son had a death grip on my arm so tight that I worried he might peel back skin. I kept asking him if he wanted to leave. He made a little cry in his throat but firmly shook his head "no." He wanted to stay.

The tension built as we headed into a cement hallway. I could only guess that we were beneath the theater. Suddenly, an ear-piercing "rrrr-rrr" echoed down the corridor.

Chainsaw. Coming for us.

My son nearly yanked my shoulder out of its socket. Instinctively, I pulled him behind me, sheltering his little body with my own.

The creature with the chainsaw slid past us on his knees, the REAL chainsaw smoking up the room so that we could barely see his hideous demon mask. My son froze in his tracks, gripping my waist so hard that I couldn't move.

I turned around to reassure him and got the surprise of my life.

My little man faced the demon with the saw and...growled!

I'm not kidding. He let loose this gut-wrenching noise that easily matched the decibel level the chainsaw was creating. And then he did it again and didn't stop. His growls echoed down the hallway. And then...we were outside. It was over.

"Wow, that was really scary," I said.
"I know," he whispered, his eyes still wide. "Can we go again?"

So maybe my little son answered the question about why we like to be scared out of our wits. Being terrified had actually empowered him. He looked the devil in the eye and didn't back down. Heck, he might even have scared the poor teenager in the demon mask who probably had never been growled at by a kid. My son found strength in the darkness, in the unknown, in the terror, while realizing all along that it wasn't real. Mom was always there and so were the exits. Everything after that was a roller coaster ride.

Have a safe and sweet Halloween.

Kimberley Troutte

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