When was the last time you sat in the dark utterly alone? Not going to bed, but simply wide awake, and no one anywhere around? We don't often get the opportunity to experience this or to experience the amount of inner dialogue that needs to be curtailed.
When plunged into darkness, our minds race as we gather what information we can from the other senses and squint to try and make out shapes. Sometimes, however, those shapes look so human that our fingers itch to reach for a light. The longer you stare, the more it looks like…a person!
Ghost investigators do it all the time, but others don't spend their Saturday nights just sitting in the dark in silence. Give it a try some time while you are fully awake. Just turn the light and TV/music off and sit in utter darkness. Listen, look around, feel the room. That whole world is there when the lights are on too, but it sure is perceived and registered differently in the dark.
Normally, we sit in the dark forest only during camping and then it is in front of a fire.
There is something very primal about being in the forest at night with no light. Sure, take a light in, but turn it off for a time. Just listen intently, feel, and become one of the forest creatures. It's perhaps not a werewolf scenario, but as close as we can feel.
If there's enough light filtered through the trees, try continuing on your path and use your light when you question your way. As with any endeavors alone in the dark, keep your cell phone and flashlight nearby.
We all dread unfinished basements the most. They can be cave-like dark dwellings meant only for hibernating snakes, rats, and spiders. Even finished basements can be dark, claustrophobic bins, so much so that we are thankful the light switch is at the top of the stairs.
Have you ever stayed in your basement in the dark? When I was a child one time I set up cots for my friend and I to sleep in the unfinished basement at my childhood home.
The crawlspace of raw earth was open to the room by a big window and the darker void stared us down. We lasted all of about a half hour before we took our sleeping bags and left (and we had the light on!)
As a child, mom would send us kids down there to get canned foods where they were stored. The stairs were open and exposed to the crawlspace and in my child mind, a monster lurked in the dirty filled void and was ready to grab my ankle as I sprinted back upstairs, barely flicking the light off and slamming the door shut.
“Night of the Living Dead”
“Alone in the Dark” (1982)
“Don't Be Afraid of the Dark”
“Hider in the House”
“Don't Go in the Basement”
My book “Don't Go There! A Flash Horror Anthology” is a huge collection of horror short stories, timed so you know how long it will take you to start to finish each and fit into your daily schedule. The end of the book, I had a special treat of me writing about my experiences being alone in the dark in places no one likes to go after dark – Alone in the Woods, Alone in an Abandoned Building, Alone in an Abandoned Prison, Alone in a Haunted House, and Alone in a Cemetery.
One of the shorts from this book is going to be adapted into a feature film, “The Hay Men.” I will keep everyone apprised of that progress as it goes into pre-production.
In my book Adult Halloween: Taking Back the Season! I devote a whole chapter to how to face many fears, as well as phobia-inducing movies to work on your phobia issues.