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Bob Alexander: Night Stalkers

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Night StalkerThis is how Mrs. Dudley, the caretaker’s wife in Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, warns the new tenants that they’ll be on their own in if anything goes awry at Hill House.

So there won’t be anyone around if you need help. We couldn’t even hear you, in the night. No one could. No one lives any nearer than the town. No one else will come any nearer than that. In the night. In the dark,”

And that’s when nightmares come for us. When we’re asleep and defenseless and alone - in the night - in the dark, or as Stephen King wrote, “When the moon is down and the hour is none.”

I know a lot about nightmares. I suppose we all do, but rarely do we talk about them. They’re just dreams after all. They’re not real. They’re not the stuff of small talk among friends over beers at a bar or sipping lattes at a Starbucks. If you tell anyone a dream you’ve had that ends with, “and when I looked back ... its eyes were full of blood,” the conversation will stop dead. Guaranteed.

No … nightmares are what you tell your shrink or the person who was sleeping next to you before you woke them up because you were thrashing, moaning, or screaming in the night.

And when your partner asks, “What was it?” You just can’t dismiss it as if it had been nothing … just a dreamnot with your heart pounding and body slick with sweat … it was definitely something. For as long as it lasted, it was real. As the grave-digger in King’s Salem’s Lot said, “I didn’t see nothin’ and I never want to see it again.

We describe looking objectively at people or events in “the cold harsh light of reality.” The Daytime, where things neatly add up. Laws apply. There is order. But no matter how deeply we cleave to logic during the day, when we close our eyes to sleep … Everything is True in The Dark.

Everything.

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