Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Preview for Phobia!
Growing up with phobias that have terrified him his entire life, Matt Brewer had finally made the decision to go to counseling, seeking help once and for all.
He entrusted his emotions in the hands of strangers and depended on them to help conquer his fear. What he did not count on was having his fears become a distinct reality, leaving him fighting for his life and the lives of those around him, including his girlfriend whom he intended to marry.
Tortured and bound, he comes face to face with evil with no one to hear his screams. Time is of the essence and it’s a literal race against the clock in order to make it out alive.
Copyrighted © 2010 Elizabeth Parker
What does it take for fears to surface and then, to disappear? When do you know to draw the line between paranoia and reality?
Horror movies have instilled the terrorizing fear into our minds that upon entering our own dark, vacant house, we find that we are not alone, after all.
We expect the sharp pitched shrills of violins and bone-chilling organ music to begin its eerie melody as we approach something as mundane as the shower, only to see its curtain sway and a sharp blade swing in your direction.
Better yet, the feeling of someone lurking in the hallway as you're nestled in bed is enough to terrorize even the sanest person.
This fear, for the most part, is far-fetched and unrealistic.
For me, however, it became a harsh reality.
Do you remember when you were a child and feared that there were monsters lurking underneath the bed? If you were lucky, you had a loving mom or dad (or both) who would playfully crawl under the box spring just to prove you wrong.
All the while, you sat curled up in the blankets, clutching your favorite teddy bear, tears streaming down your cheeks, hoping that your parents' face would soon surface above the bed and that they would be safe.
Once they had risen above the mattress, they would greet you with a big smile and even bigger hug, proclaiming that you were out of harm's way and no monster would ever live anywhere close to your bed.
This would then be followed by a magical bedtime story, leaving you to dream of most likely a house full of awesome toys and an even bigger one used solely for storing tons of candy.
That's more or less how it happened for me, except that when my parents were too busy to pacify my fears, I took matters into my own hands and conjured up a fool-proof plan for the next bout of monster-under-the-bed horrors.
Unfortunately for me, I had been terrified of monsters since the age when I was able to just pronounce the word "monster." My brother and I used to sneak into the family room while our parents slept and sit through hours upon hours of scary movies that we were ordinarily forbidden to watch. Those same horrifying flicks made a fearful, unforgettable impression on me.
In my mind, while I was thoroughly convinced that an evil ogre was taking permanent residence under the bed, they would never be bold enough to hide in my closet. I figured I could create a little emergency kit and leave it stored in my closet, should I ever have to hide from the wicked creature.
I spent the better part of one of my days clearing out a small portion on the lower left-hand corner of the four by four foot room, making sure to move my clothes so that they were squished on one side and empty on the other.
It was ample space so that a scrawny, seven-year old like me could comfortably lie down, in the event that I would be forced to stay in there a while.
I also set aside a tiny cushion with some old blankets and a small throw pillow for my head. Should I have to hide long enough, it was absolutely necessary to take my favorite stuffed animal and lastly, Dad's flashlight, the one to be used for our camping trips that we still had yet to take.
This worked out well the first few times I tried it. I initially intended for this to be my little secret hideaway, but on one occasion when my older brother, Ben, and I were getting along, I told him of my clever, clandestine shelter. I was beaming with pride and he seemed to be quite impressed with my intelligent Boy Scout planning.
Ben was three years my senior. While it may not seem like he was that much older, at age seven, he was the one I always looked up to. We fought all of the time, however, I knew that he loved me and I loved him just the same. When push came to shove, we would watch out for each other, especially if it meant avoiding punishment from our parents.
Ben had some behavioral issues and his main claim to fame was his ingenious pranks. Sometimes they were hysterically funny and other times not so much. His intentions were never evil, though at times the results were questionable to say the least.
He was way too smart for his own good and doctors labeled him as moderately hyperactive. He needed to be doing something at all times, with his mind constantly needing stimulation. I on the other hand, was quite content thumbing through my run of the mill picture books and playing with my vast collection of metal toy trucks.
I could be amused for hours, pretending I was in charge of the dump truck or perhaps I was the burly construction worker who operated the crane on all of the big rigs. On some days, I preferred to be a fire marshal or policeman. My parents even bought me a badge that I would proudly display on my shirt on such days.
Ben would offer to sit with me for maybe three whole minutes before he got distracted and wandered off.
One day, while hiding from the monsters, I became so comfortable on my provisional bed in the closet that my fear managed to escape me and the small throw pillow coaxed me into a deep, fantasy-filled sleep.
I did not even hear my mother calling me to let me know dinner would be ready in thirty minutes and to get cleaned up, but apparently my loving brother heard loud and clear.
Knowing where I would most likely be hiding, my brother snuck into my bedroom, noticed the light seeping out from underneath the closet door and quietly opened it.
Seeing that I was fast asleep, he ventured down to the garage, climbed on top of a workbench, reached into my dad's forbidden tool box and grabbed some heavy-duty construction glue.
Once again, he snuck back into my room and gently opened the closet door, gluing the inner portion side of the door to the frame of the closet. I would like to believe that Ben did not really know the impact of his actions. I would also like to assume that Ben did not realize the intense strength of that glue or the expedient drying time, because by the time I woke up thirty minutes later to my mother calling me, I heard Ben laughing in the background and I jumped up from my powerful nap.
I pounced up, trying to shake the cobwebs from my dreaming state, but as I turned the knob on the closet door to get out, I pushed the door so hard that I nearly broke my arm. I attempted to nudge the closet open as I normally would have, not expecting there to be any resistance but sure enough, the door would not budge, not even a little bit. I used a little more force the second time, thinking my mother was going to be furious that I was hiding, and even angrier that I was late for dinner, but it still would not open.
Tonight was the one night my father was coming home later than usual, and my mother was a bit stressed out trying to juggle the entire household on her own, without any help to keep track of her two mischievous children.
The first thought that penetrated my brain was that the terrifying monster under my bed had possessed a superior intelligence than me. He must have entered the closet from some bizarre dimension, perhaps one that only ill-omened monsters had the ability to see and even weirder capability to move through without any effort.
This raised the terror and adrenalin level even more, as I started to kick the door full force and screech at the top of my lungs.
My mother's footsteps charging up the stairs rang through my ears and the fast, heavy thumping matched the desperate pounding of my own heart.
I heard her voice shouting for me and I bellowed back as she pulled on the door from the outside. "Matthew, let go of the door knob." She must have thought I was playing, though I was positive my voice was brimming with desperation. Through exasperated breaths, I tried to tell her, "I am not touching the door knob. Help me mom! Get me out of here. Mom, please help me!" My cries started off in my normal voice and made their way to a fanatical, high-pitched octave.
The back of my throat started to feel parched and it dawned on me that I had nothing to drink for at least the better part of the day.
To make matters more frightening, my trusty flashlight had been lit the entire time during my nap, and unfortunately, the batteries were not brand new. I was not smart enough to preserve battery power, nor did I know such a thing was necessary. The light start to flicker and then soon enough, the only illumination I had simply died.
I sat in complete darkness, only taking solace in a small beam of natural light that was trickling in from underneath the door.
I heard the sound of my mother's voice, but only between my own screams as now I was utterly terrified. "Mom, help me! The monsters! MOM, get me out. They are going to kill me! I can't breathe! Get Dad. Help me!"
I expected the door would be open in no time, but now both she and Ben were trying with all of their might and it would not budge, not even an inch. As we jiggled the doorknob, we felt it turn, but the massive piece of wood attached was not going anywhere! My mother's voice was laced with panic and I could tell Ben was crying.
My father was not expected home from work for another two hours. After an hour of trying, my brother finally had to 'fess up to his impetuous crime, which helped eliminate the fear that monsters were involved in this travesty, but there was still nothing they could do to get me out of this confined dungeon.
My heart was about to thump its way right out of my heaving chest and I could not breathe. The walls were closing in on me and the air was becoming denser with each passing minute. I had trouble catching my breath and could actually hear myself trying to inhale or exhale.
The more I made an attempt to breathe, the more my heart's erratic pulsing seemed to get in the way. As I clutched at my throat, I could actually hear the drumming of my heart echoing through my ears. Every ounce of clothing seemed to prohibit me from breathing even further and felt as if it were getting tighter and tighter.
I started to remove my clothes so that all I had on were my short little socks and my masculine Spiderman underwear.
My scalp was dripping with sweat and my hair was fully matted. My eyes were burning from crying and my throat raw and dry from my frenzied howls.
The faint light that offered me a glimpse of life from the windows in the room was quickly fading out, as it was getting later in the evening and the sun had begun its nightly descent. The glow from the blue, kid-size lamp in my room was proving itself useless as it was not lending anything in terms of comfort.
Downstairs, the aroma of my mother’s delectable cooking was permeating throughout the house, but that was soon masked by the smoky odor of something burning.
At that very instant, my mother became maniacal as she proclaimed in labored breaths that during this entire debacle, she had managed to leave the stove on!
There was more shrieking and lots of cursing. I couldn't tell if it was from her or me this time and I heard more hammering footsteps scurrying down the stairs to the smoldering kitchen. "Ben, get the fire extinguisher. QUICKLY! Get it now!"
I could only imagine that there were flames encompassing the first floor of our modest little fortress that we called home.
Ben never knew where anything was in our house and was the least organized person that I knew. I heard him frantically whining, "I don't know where it is? Where is it Mom?!"
The smoke fumes were now finding their way into my tiny, cramped space, which at this point, I imagined would double as my coffin, burying me alive in its vicious inferno, leaving burnt ashes as the only proof of my diminutive existence.
I tried wailing some more as if the loudness of my trembling voice would somehow create a miraculous fury that forced the door to open, but even that theory could not be tested, as there was no sign of sound in my voice box.
I was teeter-tottering on passing out, but did not relent and kept kicking in the door, still with no luck. Apparently my seven-year old legs didn't possess the muscle needed to knock down the enormous piece of wood attached by strong metal hinges.
It didn't help that my mother insisted the closets be made of oak. My father had suggested we get regular closet doors like the rest of the world, but my mother had some crazed obsession with the type of wood our closets and doors should consist of and somehow won that particular argument.
Nothing but silence rang through my ears for what seemed like an eternity, but might have just been ten minutes, as I could not determine how long I had been locked away during this ordeal.
Finally, once again my mother's affectionate voice was getting closer. I thought for sure here was where she would apologize and tell me goodbye. The house was burning down, and she had to leave without me.
"Matthew, Mommy's here now. Dad will be here within the hour. Just stay calm. It's all okay now."
My mouth opened, but no words would come out. Pure terror had taken over my body and all I wanted to do was escape. I needed to get out and suddenly needed to run. The walls were closing in and my heart was racing faster with each passing minute. There was a loud panting sound that seemed to originate from the increasingly shrinking walls, but then I realized it was me gasping for just one last deep breath.
I was only seeing shadows and thought for sure I would never be able to focus again. I couldn’t be sure if the dark figures I saw hanging from the rod in the closet were my clothes or some masked man waiting to kill me.
The outfit I was wearing was drenched on the floor and I couldn't even find my stuffed animal to share the last few minutes of my pathetic, short life. My legs felt rubbery. I envisioned them to be shaking like Jello and could not hold myself up. The air was being stolen from me minute by mind-torturing minute.
It was then that everything finally went black.
I assumed that my father must have driven at one hundred miles per hour to get home earlier than expected. Normally, when he walks through the door after a long day at work, my mother already has dinner on the table.
She greets him with a small peck on the cheek and then he gives both my brother and me a big bear hug, mumbling something about how he's going to get us and starts chasing us around the living room. This is usually accompanied with him making growling noises and roaring like an oversized bear with my brother and me screaming as if it were real.
My mother was usually laughing in the background, dressed in a flowered apron covering her clothes, while holding a potholder or a spoon, complaining that we were going to ruin our appetites for dinner and that we should calm down.
I never understood how running would ruin our craving for food, but I never bothered to stop and ask. Mom had her own way of thinking and usually we all just let her win. Sometimes it was easier to pick our battles wisely.
Tonight things were different. Though I was upstairs, and locked in a four by four foot chamber, I was brought out of my fear-induced coma by my father's deep, familiar voice, not threatening to chase us, but what sounded like him making grave threats to my brother. On top of his barking, I heard my brother bawling in the background.
Dad finally burst into the bedroom after his thunderous screaming at my brother brought me back to consciousness. Had I not been on the cusp of death, I might have even felt badly for Ben. His punishment might actually equal the intense turmoil that I had to endure.
I heard every word loud and clear. "Let me understand this properly. You did what?! You GLUED the door shut? What the hell is wrong with you? What in the world were you possibly thinking? Did you think it was actually funny to glue a door shut? What did you think was going to happen? It’s glue! Of course the door does not open. What were you doing in my tool box in the first place? Didn't I tell you to NEVER go in there? Don’t you get it? This is IT! Go to your room. I don't want to see you for a month. Out of my sight!"
When he was angry, he was notorious for speaking in short, yet formidable fragments.
Then, as if a switch had been turned on, his voice softened to that of the Dad I recognized as he said, "Matthew? I'm coming, son. You'll be out of there in no time."
I heard the garage door slam shut and then open again. That was followed by some swift running up the stairs, the kind where you skip two steps at a time, and my father's authoritative voice echoing though the door again. "It's okay, honey. I gotcha. Give me two minutes."
Some kind of a tool engaged the top portion of the door. I'd find out later it was a flathead screwdriver removing the hinges. I then heard something fall onto the carpet as some light glimmered through the top of the door. There was then another thud on the floor and a bit more light.
Finally the door opened in the opposite direction that it normally did, still attached by the glue on the left hand side where the handle was. I sat there, half-naked, dazed, pathetic, drenched in sweat and tears, alive and crying, facing my mom and dad.
Both parents extended their arms toward me and embraced me in an airtight hug, something that I normally might welcome, but the fact that I still couldn't breathe did not make this enjoyable one bit.
Once they had released their crippling hold on me, my breathing, though still labored, was getting closer and closer to its normal rhythm. Between the crying, screaming and panicking, I developed a dry, hacking cough and could not stop. After a few hours, a pitcher full of water and some tender love and care, I was pretty much back to normal.
That traumatic experience not only taught me to never hide in the closet again, but supplied me with two more phobias in addition to monster-phobia. One was a severe case of claustrophobia- the intense fear of being confined to small places and nyctophobia- the fear of the dark.
As I got older, I outgrew the monster-phobia, but could not shake the other two no matter how I tried to ignore them and use wishful thinking to will them away.
They stuck with me through my teenage years and well into my thirties. They sometimes left my side, leaving me to think that I had conquered all, but they always came back with a vengeance and are here with me now.
I have kept this journal throughout most of my adult life, expressing my innermost thoughts and most heartfelt emotions. I had always felt better once my feelings were put down on paper. It was a great release for me. It was never to see the light of day; however, since I am faced with a situation beyond my wildest dreams, I will try to give you as many details as I can.
You see, most recently, I have developed yet one more fear. I believe the correct term for this is Necrophobia, or more commonly known as the fear of death, (not to be confused with necrophilia, which is the obsession of having sex with dead people).
Necrophobia is probably the most realistic of all of them for me, because if you are actually reading this now, then I am most likely, in fact, dead.
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