The year was 1980. I had just dropped out of college with a plan to work a job while I searched for a new school to attend. I was young and ambitious. I would work and go to school. I could do anything because I was young, brave, and free.
The office job I held was mostly typing, something in which I excelled to the point where a coworker accused me of cheating at my job because she couldn't fathom the amount of work I accomplished in a day. Her frustration amused me.
During my lunch break I would sit at my desk with my can of Coke and read. My book ~ The Shining.
One particular day as I was reading my book and sipping my Coke I became unusually engrossed in the story. The ghost twins. Danny/Tony. Tony/Danny. Isolation in a huge hotel in the middle of nowhere. Insanity lurking around every corner. RedRum. Allworkandnoplaymakesjackadullboy. I couldn't get enough and it was impossible for me to put the book down. I think I read beyond my lunchtime limit, causing more fodder for my coworker to complain about on top of my cheating. I also think I drank two Cokes as I flipped the pages of suspense and terror.
At last my work ethic got the best of me. I placed my bookmark between the pages of the book and swallowed the last of my can of Coke. I took a deep breath and decided to relieve myself of the two Cokes I drank absently during my reading session. I looked up to the sight of the office and I was suddenly seized with fear.
There was nothing fearful about the office. It was beige with florescent lights, just like any other office. The people looked like normal people, piles of work sat on everyones' desks. But still I was, all of the sudden, very afraid. The thought of leaving the office and going down the hall to the bathroom terrified me. But those two Cokes were too much for me to bear.
I remembered myself and my surroundings, telling myself it was silly to be so afraid. There's nothing here to be afraid of ~ after all, this bland, boring office building wasn't the Overlook Hotel. But walking down the hallway toward the restroom put me in the long corridors of the hotel. The hallway was strangely empty, yet I felt I was being watched. Once I reached the bathroom I found that to be abandoned too, eerily quiet, terrifying. Luckily I was able to take care of my business quickly and hurry back to the office where there would at least be people to distract me from those heebie-jeebies.
I've never forgotten that day which occurred over thirty years ago, so engrossed in a story that the fear penetrated even the most mundane of situations. The Shining had a huge impact on me and to this day remains the scariest story I've ever read. There is nothing so invigorating as fear.
This October I'd love to dive into another frightening tale in honor of Halloween. What's the scariest story you've ever read? Who is your favorite weaver of horror tales?