It was a gloriously sunny afternoon in Sydney. We had just moved into our new house and the corners were still littered with packing boxes and tape. I was 17 and my parents had headed off on a day-long mission to find plants for the garden. The thermometer was pushing 35 degrees and without air conditioning, I relished the opportunity to sit in nothing but a vest and pants in our sweltering lounge with the curtains drawn against the sun – it was too hot to be outside. Flicking on our brand-new TV, I scrolled through the channels until I found a movie I had wanted to watch for a while: Signs.
I had spent much of my childhood terrified of aliens, having been convinced a few times of seeing UFOs in the night sky and certain that if left alone in a dark room I would be abducted. But I was 17 now. I needed to grow up and stop being afraid of aliens. I had started by turning all the books on my dedicated ‘paranormal-genre’ bookcase back the right way (I had spent 10 years with the spines facing inwards, too scared to see the words ALIEN or GHOST when waking up in the morning). And now I was going to watch an alien film.
And so, with an ice cold glass of coke in my hand, I settled down for the most horrifying two hours of my life. I shook, I cried, I jumped. I bit my nails down to the quick and sweated not just from the heat, but from fear. And then suddenly it was over. The aliens had departed the land on-screen. But that was on-screen…what about the aliens I had felt watching me all those years?! What was that noise above my head?! Oh god, was that a shadow that just passed across the curtain?!
Frozen, I was loathe to make any movement lest the aliens who were clearly in my house and garden sense my presence. From the corner of my eye I glimpsed the clock. 2pm. My parents weren’t due home until at least 4. I sat, muscles tense and lip quavering for an hour. The ice in my drink had long-ago melted and the heat was beginning to get to me. So was my need to pee…I hadn’t a choice, I had to go to the bathroom. Slowly, stiffly, I uncurled my limbs (my feet had been tucked up under me for fear of what might be hiding underneath the couch). Rather than tiptoeing, I sprinted, fast as a gazelle, to the nearest bathroom, which happened to be my parents’ en-suite. Breathing heavily, I relieved myself then made to make my escape from this enclosed space. But as my hand reached out towards the handle, I heard a quick footstep approaching, and then the handle turned by itself. As the door opened towards me I saw nothing but the approach of the linoleum floor as I fainted into the clutches of the alien.
It was just minutes later, with a new glass of cold liquid in my hand and a wet cloth on my forehead that I looked up into the eyes of my father, who was worriedly fussing over me.
“Darling, I think the heat has gotten to you…You’ve just fainted right into my arms!”
“Dad”, I mumbled, “Thank god you’re home early, I was…” but my voice trailed off as from behind my father I saw the long-fingered green hand of an alien reach over his shoulder…
What horror movie scarred you for life, stuck with you through your formative years, or opened your eyes to the possibilities of the genre? Let us know and you could win some amazing Halloween goodies!