What Really Scares Me

I’m a graveyard junkie. I have no problem with camping out all night among the stones of the dead (except for my aversion to actual camping. Lumpy ground, cold dew, active nightcrawlers…ew). I feel at home among the monuments and safe surrounded by earth and bone. But I know people who skip the graveside services of their dearly-departed during broad daylight because cemeteries give them the creeps.

Give me ghosts. While I’m sure I’d wet myself when faced with a real apparition, my brushes with the paranormal until now have been uniformly benevolent. A dead relative visits me in a dream and gives me great advice (which I remember the next morning). My skin crawls for some undefined reason and I step back–and a minute later, the arm of the cactus I’m standing under falls on the spot I’d just left. I’m convinced that a benevolent God rules a benevolent universe and phenomena both inexplicable and explained generally work for a greater good.

Until I run into certain humans. No creaking staircase can match the destructive power of a twisted heart. No fictional ghoul has ever accomplished what some real-world monsters have done to their fellow man. When do I question God’s benevolence? When I watch the evening news. How I do settle back into my natural state of optimism and faith? By popping in a TrueBlood DVD.

The closer horror comes to scientifically-verifiable reality, the scarier it is. Even fairly innocuous scenes in books and movies have me turning my face away–especially when the heroine has snuck into someone’s office and is digging through their secret files. I get up and leave the room.

“It’s okay, honey,” Dr. Stevens calls. “It’s over. Now the slime monster is slithering under the door.”

Slime monsters. Cool. I’m there!

Keri Stevens is the author of STONE KISSED, winner of the 2011 Golden Quill for Best First Book.

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