A STRANGER CALLS
Almost every parent has left their children with a babysitter at some point in their adolescence, whether it be a relative, a family friend, or simply somebody found locally advertised.
It doesn't matter how well you know them, how comfortable we feel in their competence and ability, there is always that niggling feeling of doubt… that fear the whisper so silently into your ear when you're trying to focus your energy elsewhere. The reminder that you are not aware of what is in the mind of the person you have placed in the care of your kin.
A babysitter is not uncommon, going back for thousands of years across our ancestors - even crossing species into the animal kingdom as the wiser, more maternal of the group is entrusted to take care of the youths.
As the parents of our children, we are entrusted to keep them safe, and in the short moments of our lives, we can trust these individuals to take over that mantle, if not only for an evening. Almost every single time, these fearful thoughts remain just that - thoughts - never to manifest into anything more than a silly worry in the back of a mother's head… but then there is always the question, what if it isn't the babysitter that we
need to fear?
We’ve all seen the scene in the American horror movies of young lovers parking up by the woods to awkwardly fumble around in private without the worry of parents or passers-by but they are almost always disturbed; occasionally this disturbance is simply natures calling, as the male counterpart of the two heads off to relieve himself, leaving the woman alone to impatiently wait in the darkness of the car. Other times they are disturbed by a curious noise outside, luring the male away in search for answers.
This narrative feels so real to us as so many of us attempted to seek refuge from our parent’s gaze in our younger years, finding a place to park up and smoke, hang out, have sex, or simply play music into the night. Our first cars give us that feeling of ownership, that space is yours and yours alone, it is your home away from home. A teenager with a sudden feeling of independence will push it to its limits as they attempt to stretch their legs in this newfound world of adulthood.
There is an element of safety that comes from sitting inside of a car; people will shout and scream from behind the steering wheel with a confidence that would never manifest itself without the steel box they were inside but in truth, we all know deep down that we are not safe from the outside world and our confidence is built on a naïve landscape. What if, as we hid from the world to create our own temporary teenage utopia, we also hid ourselves from safety? What if, as we seek out the darkness, the darkness found us?
THE KIDNEY HEIST
As science progresses, as does our understanding of medicine. With that comes an ever-growing list of life-saving operations for those in need - but with this, comes an ever-growing list of people who require it. The waiting times for certain operations are unanimously too long around the world, with many requiring transplants to replace the certain organs they have that may be steamrolling its vessel into an early grave.
As the internet progresses and expands the amount of information we receive on a daily basis, our understanding of the importance of such procedures and the dangers of the waiting times reach us all.
It seems inevitable, with our often-cynical views of the world around us, that stories of a darker side of this incredible feat of science and medicine would arise, teasing our insecurities and fears. With many citizens of our capitalistic societies seeing tax for universal healthcare as theft, we can only imagine how horrifying it would be to find that thing that was stolen was a part of yourself.
This Urban Legend pops up across the western world, most notably in the US, every October. Believed and concerned about by so many, with so much force that it is covered annually on social media and the press. A simple google search will bring up dozens of clips from news reports up and down the country that discuss the dangers of Halloween treats.
As an old, Irish holiday, Halloweens traditions have updated and evolved over the years. For one night only we all attempt to get a good scare - people walk the streets in outfits far more monstrous and often far more revealing than would be otherwise deemed socially acceptable - but none of that is as strange as the concept of taking sweets from strangers.
The phrase ‘Never take candy / or sweets from a stranger’ is prominent in most societies and yet for one night a year, we let our children loose to knock on strangers doors and request a trick or a treat. We let our guards down, enjoying the festival of menace and fear that erupts along the streets of every town and city as we enjoy our plunder.
It’s funny, we ask for tricks or treats and yet we never expect the tricks to come.
THE BACKSEAT KILLER
Our vehicles are a metallic cocoon we use to get ourselves from place to place, often without realising it, our cars become an extension of our home, feeling slightly safer - more at home by the very act of sitting inside and closing the doors. It is a place we run through many emotions, from the joy of singing along to a song on the radio - to the rage that befalls us all at the inconsiderate driver ahead.
We invite those into our cars when we feel comfortable to do so, just as we would inviting somebody into our homes. They can be a place to eat, to laugh - in some cases even a place to sleep or have sex.
To find your car broken into is a milder, but similar sensation to that of a home break-in - an invasion of space and privacy that can cause discomfort and concern - but what if that person wished you ill? What if you got into your car, unaware it had been broken into?
What if they were still there?
We all remember spending the night at a friends house, a group of us telling stories and playing games into the night, sometimes sneaking a bottle of alcohol past our parents, sometimes watching films we were far too young to watch, sometimes simply playing until the sun came up the following morning.
There are several things we can all expect from these sleepovers, the first being laughter as we tell funny stories and reminisce over old times - the other being practical jokes, putting the fingers of a sleeping guest into a cup of water, or squirting shaving foam in the palm of their hands and tickling their nose; but the third thing is something we never really plan for and or intend to do and yet, it always seems to rear its head at some point into the night - the scare.
It is an interesting development that comes in the night; a strange desire to feel the excitement of fear through tasks, stories, or movies. One that lives on through generations and remains throughout numerous cultures, emphasising just how much of a simple human desire it is.
One scare has lived on longer than many, requiring bravery and nerves of steel, to prove to your friends that you are not afraid whilst using all your might to evoke the fear in others. We laugh and we giggle as we take in turns in front of the mirror to whisper that mysterious name, partly hoping for her arrival, mostly dreading the possibility of it.