Scary Stories


scary face

by Alan F. Zundel

Do you like scary stories? I do. I went to see a ghost movie today, “The Gallows,” and admit I got scared a lot. Only it wasn’t the movie that scared me. I’ll be reviewing that in a day or two; today’s topic is scary stories of a different kind.

Writers constantly observe the world around them and create stories in their heads about what they see. And I saw lots of stuff on my outing that inspired some scary stories in my head. Here’s three of them.

Don’t Go in That Big Dark Room

Don’t go in that big, dark room—it’s a movie theater!

The place is infested with ghosts: the Avengers, Jurassic dinosaurs, Arnold the Terminator, Ted the cursing teddy bear, Magic Mike the stripper—ghosts of movies past haunting the screen, ready to attack anyone foolish enough to enter.

I love movies, but I rarely go to the local multiplex. Or maybe I should say: I love movies, therefore I rarely go to the local multiplex. What is scarier than realizing a loved one is in mortal danger? Because it sure seems to me like the kind of movies I love are in peril.

I understand the economics of it. Producers target an international audience to recoup the high cost of making a big movie, and the international market craves that kind of stuff: Superheroes. Franchises. Action features. Racing cars. Disaster films. In short, stuff that is cartoon-like and easy to follow no matter what culture you are from.

Yeah, there’s a place for that. I even enjoy one of those movies from time to time, if it’s well done. But I fear for the future of intelligent movies. How will they get financed if that stuff is soaking up the production money? How will upcoming filmmakers break into the business?

Thank God there are still independent theaters showing stuff outside of the major studio releases. Here in Eugene we have the two Bijou theaters. I love them. I hope you have an independent in your area to patronize. If we just rely on cable TV for the good stuff, eventually the independent theaters will die out and it won’t be possible to see a decent movie on the big screen.

This is a real cliffhanger, folks. The bad movies are out to take over the world, and the good little movies are barely holding on. It’s a real nail-biter!

The Creeping Shadow

I walked into the mall and it looked empty. Very few people, stores begging for customers. It’s a summer day, and no one wants to go to an air-conditioned mall? Where are they?

I hope the people who weren’t there were either at work or enjoying the outdoors, but here’s the story in my head: people aren’t in the mall because they’re afraid to spend money. Worried about their jobs. Maxed out on credit. Uncertain of the future.

I went to the ticket counter to buy my ticket and was served by a pleasant young man with a beard. Not a teenager, mind you, a young man. Couldn’t he find a better job than this?

We seem to have a generation stuck in low-paying retail and service work. Young people are postponing getting married and buying houses because their financial future looks so scary. Will they ever be able to move up in the world?

There is a dark shadow being cast over the land, and it’s called widening economic inequality. It’s attacking victims all over the world, and no one seems to know how to stop it. The governments of the world seem helpless.

Who can save us? What will happen to our children and grandchildren?

The Insidious Silent Killers

Of the few people who were there at the mall, four out of five looked overweight. Weight problems didn’t seem to be this prevalent when I was young. When did Americans become so flabby?

I pictured people across the country swelling up year by year, decade by decade, despite all the efforts to address the problem. Diseases like diabetes and heart attacks will run rampant, as they already are.

Is it the food they’re eating? Are agribusinesses producing stuff with less and less nutrition? Is it the junk food so easily available? Are people buying cheap, crappy food because they can’t afford any better?

And when traveling to and from the mall, everywhere I saw people smoking. Even young people. The link between smoking and cancer, heart disease, and strokes has been known for a half a century. Why are people still smoking? Why do some young people still think it’s cool?

It’s as though an alien race has unleashed a plague on us, causing vulnerable people to suffer horrible diseases. Our race is being decimated. Can we survive? Or will intelligent cockroaches take over the planet?

And don’t get me started on climate change. I have enough nightmares as it is.


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