“Because fear kills everything. Your mind, your heart, your imagination.” ~ Cornelia Funke, Inkheart
Sitting around the bonfire one night, we tried to recall spooky stories. The surrounding darkness and silence was a frightful reminder of the unseen things that lurk on the edges of our imagination.
We thought of wolf spiders that hide in the fire pit and come crawling out and over your feet once the heat escalates. We remembered a few scary movies we’d seen, with their limited spooky appeal as we sat safely ensconced around the flaming embers, all notion of video drama and horror a distant threat.
That was as spooky as we got that night. This morning, however, I dreamed a waking dream of what’s revealed in the spookiest Halloween story.
In that space between awake and sleep it’s far easier to recall the things that go bump in the night. I could see them there, the creatures of night, although they exist in every space, even light. Their work is never finished, which is why you won’t find them sleeping during the daylight hours.
They are their busiest then, when you’re trying to think straight, do work, have conversations, and just be alive. Because that’s what they don’t want.
They’d rather you were dead.
The spookiest Halloween story has no ghosts, unless, of course, you understand that these ghosts aren’t ghosts at all. They’ve never walked this earth like you and me. They don’t know the touch of a warm hand or the feel of a kitten’s fur or the button-down feeling of what it’s like to try not to cry over someone you’ve lost.
They don’t know because they were never human. They never felt the stirring of hope that only humans feel. But they’re well aware of our tendency to feel hope.
Their work is to kill that hope. Their work is to stir up fear and remove all sense of being human.
There are many words for fear. It’s labelled “anxiety disorder,” “phobia,” “paranoia,” and “panic attack.” It’s deemed irrational, pathological, mentally unstable, and weak-willed.
What it’s rarely called is evil. A certain amount of fear is acceptable and healthy. It can be your safety mechanism. Fear has its opposite in faith, the best method for combatting it’s tenacious effects on your heart.
It’s not fashionable or politically correct or educated to assume there is evil in the world that’s comprised of something outside of our own hearts. It’s generally frowned upon to believe there are supernatural forces waging battle for your souls.
C. S. Lewis writes in the preface of Screwtape Letters: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.”
In My Nightmare I came face to face with “the devils,” one an obvious junior demon, and the other, well, that one caused me greater terror than I have ever known. While a nightmare appears on the surface to be unreal and without substance, it can have elements of supernatural fingers cloying their way into this dimension.
The dimension where the fallen stalk us like prey is no farther than your thoughts. They exist in every single interaction taking place in this fallen world. Whether they are winners or losers depends on you.
Halloween recalls the spirits of the dead, the terrors of the night, and the ghastly images of monsters. But do you really know these monsters?
“Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Don’t get too close to it. The abyss will suck you in. It is you who is living the scariest Halloween story ever told. They’re waiting. Watching.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.