- Holly Searle
- London, United Kingdom
- Holly Searle is a writer who was born in Westminster in the middle of London. She shares her birthday with Jarvis Cocker and David Seaman and like Jarvis Cocker she wears glasses but has nothing whatsoever in common with David Seaman. She is fascinated by words, people and their stories, and regularly spends hours fantasising about being offered a weekly column. She has a degree in Film and Television which she gained from Brunel University in 1997. She has been blessed with two quite remarkable children whom she adores. She enjoys the company of her friends and the circus that is life. Long Walk to Forever by Kurt Vonnegut is her favourite short story. She is the author of the published children's tale The Story of Balan Singh, and is currently working on her first book.
Thursday, 1 November 2012
Dark By Holly Searle
I will not watch scary films full stop. I will not watch them, simply because my imagination will just keep me awake throughout the night thereafter taunting me endlessly with the prospect that something supernatural is bound to happen to me during the course of that night.
Neither will I read scary books for the very same reason. I have learnt from past experiences, that for me, this is the best course of action.
But of course before I was aware of this, I endured many sleepless nights of pure and unequivocal fear at my own hand because I just couldn't stop myself from watching that film or simply because I just couldn't put down that damn book.
For example, after watching the Bob Hope in 1939 version of The Cat and the Canary as a child, I just couldn't sleep as I kept replaying the hands appearing from the headboard of bed scene over and over in my head. I didn't live in a spooky old mansion and nor did I sleep in a four poster bed through which a pair of hands might have emerged. But what that sequence had managed to do, was to implant in my mind the fear of the impossible through the implausible. And when you are scared by mere suggestion, your mind will believe anything.
For days after seeing that film, I would check the wall behind my bed to ensure that the possibilities of those hands appearing was beyond remote.
Even though I have made a pact with myself never to watch a film or read a book that may scare me again, the remembrance of all the times when I did, has literally haunted me ever since. And like a suppressed mental spectre can creep up on me when I least expect it to like Bela Lugosi biding me welcome to his home.
Many years later I went to stay with my Dad in his house in Ireland. It was my first visit and I didn't know what to expect. His house was situated in a secluded place outside of town that was surrounded by woodland with a river to the rear of the property.
I eventually arrived from London after a very long coach and boat combo that had left me exhausted, so on my first night there, it is safe to say, that I was asleep before my head even hit the pillow on the makeshift bed I was sleeping on in a room downstairs.
However, on the second night, it was a very different story.
It was dark, so dark in fact, that when I opened my eyes, I thought I must have gone blind. And, it was also far too quiet, all except that was, for an unidentifiable noise. As I lay in the dark listening to the noise, no amount of rational thinking as to what it could be could quell my unease.
I reached for the light, but was unable to find it. It was then that I felt a sense of panic. I reasoned that the light switch couldn't be too far away and scolded myself for not being able to find it. I tried again and this time, I was successful and found it. It was in the exactly the same place that I had tried only a few moments before.
Light flooded the room, but the noise continued and I didn't sleep at all.
The following morning I explained the previous nights events to my Dad and he said he thought it was probably a badger drinking from the rainwater trough outside the window of the room I had been sleeping in. So it was decided that I should move my bed upstairs to an open landing space, that nestled between the two occupied bedrooms.
In was a nice space and I was happy enough.
But, there was something not quite right about that house. It was very old, over 500 years old in fact and I always felt as though I was being watched or that someone was standing behind me, when it fact neither were true, or was it?
I dismissed both notions as ridiculous and never spoke of them to my Dad or my Step Mum. I just put it all down to being a city dweller in the country.
Then one night we had a storm and all of the power was cut. The house and all of the surrounding areas were pitch black. My step Mum and I were near the front door when it happened and we screamed as we tired to find our way back to the house.
My Dad appeared and told us off for making such a fuss, but later she told me that in Ireland the evil spirits play tricks on you and maybe they had turned us around to make us lose our bearings.
We laughed in the face of it all and went to bed.
Then a few nights later it happened.
I was laying in my bed on the landing. It was dark, but all of a sudden the darkness became unbearable and I felt as though I was being smothered by it. Again, I felt a sense of sheer panic and without hesitation I sat up and proceeded to get out of bed to switch the light on. As I did so, something met me in the dark, It was cold, ice cold and swooshed passed my face, just like when another person passes by you.
I cannot tell you how scared I was and when I eventually found the light switch, the sensation of fear remained and so did the feeling that I was not alone.
The light remained on and I didn't sleep at all well that night as the fear of what had happened had found its way into the very bones of me.
Years later, on another visit to Ireland, we were talking about that house and I happened to mention that event and how uneasy I had felt in that house.
My step Mum agreed and said that she had often felt like she was also being watched and that she though it was Holy Kate who had lived there for years before they had taken it over.
She recounted her own story of reading a letter that they had found during their work on the house and the sensation that someone was standing behind her whilst she had read it.
I shivered when she told me that as I thought it had just my imagination playing tricks on me all alone in the dark, when in fact it was something else.