There are tons of very scary movies out there, and when you’re someone like me — prone to jumping, shaking, and mild paranoia — even the most innocuous films can be a bit harrowing at times. However, nothing is quite as frightening as some of the more mundane things that can happen in an apartment. I know what you’re saying: how can the guy who got scared (a little) during Monster House be the authority on what things are truly scary. Point well taken. Still, I know what gets the heart racing, and these terrifying incidents — which have happened to nearly everyone, I’m sure — can hardly be refuted. Read on… IF YOU DARE (insert Vincent Price laughter here).
1. Light bulbs
The granddaddy of them all. Nothing is quite as viscerally startling as a light bulb burning out. We’ve all been there. The room is dark, you reach for the lamp, you turn the switch, and BAM! There’s a flash of light so bright it’s like having your own personal lightning bolt in your hands. It’s so intense, random, and oddly violent that you can’t help but to recoil swiftly from your self-destructing bulb, lest it make you the next target of its blinding wrath. Afterwards, you find your heart beating a little too fast as adrenaline courses through your veins. It’s a perfectly normal fight or flight response, but the fact that it was spurred by a light bulb has you feeling all sorts of shame. In the end, you can’t help but to wonder: “Why do light bulbs have to be so damn startling? WHY CAN’T THEY JUST STOP WORKING WITHOUT THE THEATRICS?” Oh well. It’s part of the design, I know, but that doesn’t make it right.
Turning on a faucet seems perfectly harmless. That is, unless there’s been some plumbing done in your building. Then it’s like the Wild Wild West. Yes, if there’s a dreaded air bubble in the pipes, you’re in for a very unpleasant surprise. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve turned on my sink only to hear that ominous groaning sound — the kind which in every action movie always seems to precede a massive explosion. Of course, in the movies, the hero always manages to yell “DUCK!” at the last second while in real life, the chump (a.k.a. me) just stands there and thinks, “Waaaaiiit a second…” And that’s all the time it takes for my gentle stream of water to suddenly erupt into a violent geyser of evil. Yes, thanks to built up pressure in the pipes, the water sprays everywhere, and by the time I’m able to switch the faucet off, it’s already gone through two or three spastic belches. The good news is that this unfortunate scenario only plays out once in a while; so living in constant fear of aquatic explosions is more the exception than the rule. However, it does happen, and when it does, it’s HORRIFYING.
This one isn’t really startling, but it’s deeply disturbing. The best analogy would be if the first two examples were Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street, this would be like The Shining: cerebral, haunting, but not necessarily rattling. What I’m talking about is the occasional moment when your fingers are misaligned with your keyboard. Everything seems fine and normal, but then you begin to type, and all that appears on screen is gibberish. Next thing you know, the walls are closing in on you, a bead of sweat appears on your brow, and suddenly you’re thinking that maybe, just maybe, you can’t even read anymore. It’s like your entire world view has been turned on its head. Your computer might as well start humming the Twilight Zone theme. Thankfully, when the initial “What the?” moment passes, a general sense of amusement follows, and that’s always nice.
There are other scary things that I encounter, but I can’t remember them right now. When I get a few more in my head, I will release volume II.