Afraid Of the Darkness

Afraid Of The Dark

Question: Do you remember your childhood? More to the point, do you remember being afraid of the dark?

Answer: Of course you were! Come on, just admit it to yourself.

Does Your Imagination Run Amok After Dark?

This story will jump to an incident that happened around 20 years ago, but first I want to go back to my childhood. My first recollection of nightmares or being scared of the dark were from when we were living in Randwick. As a young boy, I used to suffer a recuring dream of being attacked by monsters. Terrified by the prospect of being mutilated then eaten alive, I would flee towards the edge of a huge cliff. Then, to save myself from a ghastly death I would leap into the great unknown… falling, falling, falling. The falling part seemed to go on forever, plenty of time to think. “I wish I could have said goodbye to my family”, “Is it going to hurt”? “What if I don’t die, will the monsters come and eat me anyhow”? So many internal conversations while falling.

Blue sinister painting

I haven’t painted anything directly related to this story however this enamel on board painting could identify as nightmarish

The dream always finished the same. I would wake up on point of impact bathed in sweat with heart pounding. Sometimes I didn’t want to go back to sleep for fear of the dream coming to visit me again.

It’s not just dreams that made me scared of the dark. I have another vivid memory of a night when a howling cat woke me from my slumber. Our bedroom in the Randwick house had bunk beds with Neil on top. I was on the bottom deck because I used to sleepwalk. One night our mother found me in the kitchen staring at a can of baked beans. Apparently when she asked “what are you doing son”, my reply was “there’s a whole in the wall”. So to all of you that think I am weird – there’s the proof! I digress.

The bunk beds were on the left side of the room next to the door. Steve slept on the other side of the room from us, and there was a small window facing towards the back of the house in the right hand corner. So, This terrible whining coming from a cat outside our bedroom window. I stirred awake and slowly opened my eyes to look towards the window. I hit the panic button and quickly shut my eyes. There was a man standing there.

2 young brothers sitting in front yard

Me holding Shaun – Randwick front yard

As a nine year old kid my logic was, if I can’t see him… he won’t see me. My heart was so loud it was like a drum. I had to be sure. Without moving a muscle, I carefully half open one eye. As the blur was replaced with clarity my worst suspicion was confirmed. The man with the hat was still watching me. I was so scared. I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t think what to do. I just lay there hoping he would go away. I was frozen with fear yet eventually, fell back to sleep.

The next morning when I woke I remembered about seeing the man with a hat over by the window. It took a lot of courage to roll over in bed and look towards the window. Low and behold, the man in the corner with a hat was just a printed cowboy on our tent! We had a tent erected in the corner of the room where we played. The moonlight was coming through the window illuminated the print and tricked my young mind into thinking the man was real, even though he was only goblin height.

A Change Of Scenery

We moved to Wentworthville when I was eleven and it was wonderful. In Randwick we had 2 bedrooms with 7 in the family. The house in Wenty had 3 bedrooms and we had a pool, it was awesome. There was one drawback however. From Randwick it was a quick drive or bus ride to the beach and I was just starting to learn the art of surfing. To get to the beach from Wenty required hours of public travel with a surfboard under arm. Let me tell you I have plenty of unpleasant memories of threats and ridicule by fellow passengers. Suddenly I was labelled a ‘westie’ and it stuck.

Our dad used to play soccer for Glebe and we boys would always go to the game. Before moving to Wenty, I remember one time Glebe travelled out to play Toongabbie in a pre-season trail match. It was such a long drive with paddocks and farms all over the place and I was thinking “gee, we are going to the country”. Looking at all the animals in the paddocks, suddenly I was taken aback… no, it can’t be? On a second concentrated scrutiny… yes indeed…

I saw a camel!

I couldn’t believe it. How could this still be part of Sydney, it was like going to the zoo.

Family photo in lounge room

Wenty – family photo minus dad (dad holding the camera)

Living in Wentworthville had so many stories to tell, but I will save them for another day!

During my time living in Wenty I went from sharing a bedroom (age 11) to having my own room (age 17 – living in the sun room extension), to finally converting the double garage into a self-contained granny flat (age 19).

I can’t be exactly sure at what age I stopped, but I do remember checking in the cupboard and under the bed for monsters before jumping into bed. I am guessing it stopped around 14. However there were a few ‘ghost’ or ‘spirit’ moments in that house worth talking about, but that is for another time.

A Strange Sinister Sound

Onto the hero segment. I mentioned earlier that something happened 20 years ago. At the tender age of 42 I had divorced from my first wife and was living as a single dad in Marayong. Our 3 children, Brendon (12yrs), Joshua (9yrs) & Nicole (7yrs) went to their mother’s place fortnightly for the weekend. Being a single-dad was difficult. Trying to play mummy and daddy roles simultaneously wasn’t easy. I know I wasn’t the best dad but I also know I absolutely tried my best.

The weekend came. The children had already gone to their mother’s place and I had the house to myself. I actually enjoyed the slower pace, get a little bit of ‘me’ time, no fighting over the tele. It was a non event of a night. I ate dinner, did the dishes, watched some tv, probably played some music then went to bed.

At some point I slowly stirred out of a deep sleep to a vague noise. It seemed like I was drifting in and out of sleep for some time before realising that I really needed to wake up. I had a surfing accident up at Brunswick Heads when I was 21. My right ear got perforated by the full force of a wave smacking me right in the ear. Over the years it kept tearing and getting infected. Long story short, I have terrible hearing in that ear now.

So right at the edge of my perception, I heard this bizarre noise and I was straining to listen but everything was quiet. One of the consequences of my hearing problem is that I had a skin graft to rectify the perforation. Sadly it didn’t work. I cannot dive under a powerful wave without it popping. I can’t even go six feet under in a swimming pool, the pressure kills me. I also have a permanent dose of chronic tinnitus. So trying to listen for a faint sound with so much noise going on in my head is very difficult. I was just about to drop back into sleep when I heard it again. I definitely heard it and my hairs prickled instantly.

“What the hell is that”? I was confused. This noise was so alien to me I didn’t know what to think. I was acutely awake now and straining to listen. Maybe a tortured minute passed then I heard it again. I was paralysed with fear and just lay there trying to analyse the sound. It didn’t sound human therefore probably not an intruder. It kind of had an organic sound to it but nothing like any animal I was familiar with. So not human nor animal, what was left? Crazy notions of ghosts or aliens were all I could conjure. No, it couldn’t be a ghost… could it? I was so scared I didn’t want to move but then I heard it again. There was a deep guttural undertone with a high pitched screech that was part electronic, part gibberish. It was like I had awoken in the middle of an alien invasion movie.

Alien pointing home

Is this an Alien invasion?

I knew I had to conquer my fears and work up the courage to at least find out what the noise was. I slid out of bed ever so quietly and grabbed the gurkha knife (kukri machete) from underneath, then stood still straining once again for the noise. When it sounded again I knew it was definitely coming from outside the bedroom but still within the house. I remained in the darkness using the logic – whatever is in this house doesn’t know I am awake so I have the element of surprise.

The noise was coming in intervals of about 1 – 2 minutes and by this stage I was standing at Joshua’s bedroom door waiting for it once again. The active button on the fire alarm was casting just enough glow to see shapes. The sound came again, confirmation… it was in Joshua’s room. I slowly turned the doorknob and entered his room as quietly as possible with my machete at ready. I tentatively took two steps and waited for a possible confrontation, nothing.

The creepy, weird, unusual sound came again and it was from behind the opened door. I swivelled to switch on the light, simultaneously swinging the door to see what was lurking behind it. A large plastic toy bin stood silently and still. I gave myself a wry smile. I had worked myself into a frenzy for a toy bin? When I heard it again I rummaged through the toy bin and located the culprit… a bloody pokemon watch! It must have pressed up against another toy which triggered the alarm to go off at regular intervals. I laugh about it now but in truth, at the time, I was petrified.

Pokemon watch in product box

Pokemon watch… the culprit!

Are you afraid of the dark? You don’t have to go to so much detail but please share your story, I would love to here it!

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