Secrets of Fear

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

The haunting voices call from the shadows of the grave.

Submitted: November 18, 2017

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Submitted: November 18, 2017



The best tip I can give a fledgling horror writer to make their stories scarier is talk to people who have had near-death experiences or people who are terminally ill, or blind people or deaf people or people with any type of disability that might confine them to a wheelchair or cause them to require assisted living, such as those who actually reside in an assisted living center, a/k/a nursing home.

If you’re hesitant about talking to such people in person, there are sites all over the internet where some of them tell their stories. You can read what they have to say without facing them person to person, but if you want to see their ghosts, you’ll have to interview them face to face, although sometimes spirits do haunt through cyber space.

Talk to people who are in bereavement because of the recent loss of a loved one. Don’t watch scenes in movies that take place at funerals, attend a real burial ceremony and make extensive notes of the way people really look and react to seeing the corporeal remains of a beloved blood relation slowly lowered into the cold dark ground. Explore the heartbreaking nature of grief. You can ask specific questions if you like, yet it is of greater help to let the talk of the grieving flow freely wherever it naturally leads.

A thorough understanding of grief will show you how to write about the eerie chains of unseen hidden events that lead inexorably to grief. Suspend your readers by the heels in mid air over a Stygian pit of unknown terror by foreshadowing mournful soul-crushing grief.

There are also sites where people discuss the death of loved ones, yet there’s no substitute for attending an actual funeral. When I was young, a friend of mine got killed when he rolled his little pickup truck over because he was speeding down what’s known as a ‘washboard’ road through the woods. When the truck started flipping, it threw him halfway out of the cab so that the vehicle actually rolled over on his torso, literally crushing him to death. He was bruised terribly, but they still had an open casket funeral. Can you imagine?

The family asked me to be a pallbearer. At the time I didn’t even know what that was. That’s not the type of request one says “no” to. I hope I never have to suffer through such a grim experience again - carrying the lifeless corpse of someone you were chatting raucously with only a day or two before - carrying the corpse of a friend in a box to put it in a gaping hole in the cold dark ground then cover it with dirt.

You will sense the supernatural, the paranormal, by talking to such persons. I know - I was recently hospitalized because I had blood coming out of me. The medical people diagnosed me with cancer. I don’t know if I’m going to live or die. The doctors want me in the OR for MAJOR surgery, but I can’t face it, not even with Alprazolam and Hydrocodone; yet, what I saw in the hospital, the assisted living center, and other patients I encountered (while watching a hearse back up to the basement of the hospital) who are disabled in one way or another - it all opened my eyes to a realm of life that I had hitherto not known existed.

It opened my eyes to the most terrifying horror of all, which is the existence of alien entities on our world - be they travelers from the stars in UFOs, or spirits of the dead, or interdimensional beings, or demons - they exist. These creatures are real. People who suffer, as I have recently suffered, can reveal to you the creeping presence of these sinister otherworldly creatures.

Sometimes people who have suffered severely or are facing death can tell you directly about such creatures, yet don’t get discouraged if you’re talking to someone who is terminally ill and they don’t explicitly state what you are hoping to hear. Listen to what they say, read between the lines, the eerie knowledge is there.

I’ll give you a for instance - a woman who had a tumor cut out (and is now taking care of an elderly gentleman who has cancer) described to me how his daughter is paying her a mere ten dollars a day to watch over the old guy who is currently undergoing radiation treatments.

The caretaker woman talked to me freely. I had no idea why at first. I didn’t know her, but for some reason she began chatting away like crazy. It was as if she were haunted by a ghost and the only way to rid herself of the ghastly paranormal strain was to vent to someone. Then I saw the hideous thing standing over her shoulder! I swear on a stack of Bibles I almost puked. It was right there behind her in the waiting room of the radiation treatment clinic!

She had been describing how much work she was doing for the old man, what a deplorable state his house was in, how she had washed nine loads of clothes that were a type of soiled I won’t mention here. She talked about a sickly mangy mutt that lives in the house with the old guy. Then she started talking about other things.

She said that every time she entered the house, she felt a rush of icy air push against her, as if the house itself didn’t want her there - then the room temperature would slowly return to normal. She had seen objects in the house move by themselves. The old fellow lives there alone with the old dog, but this caretaker woman said that on several occasions she had the feeling that there was a “presence” in the house, someone other than herself, the dog, or the elderly man. She said that she sensed hatred coming from the presence. She described it as a dark feeling of menace without end.

She had heard her name whispered in the old fellow’s house by a female voice and I knew she was telling the truth because the repulsive thing standing over her shoulder grinning at me had feminine, albeit grotesque, characteristics. Just then, the nurses brought the elderly man out from his radiation treatment. The caretaker woman was pushing him out the door in his wheelchair to where her car was parked. The abominable thing that had been standing over her shoulder followed, but some cold shadowy aspect of that horrifying grinning obscenity remained behind in the waiting room.

Fortunately for me, it was the day of my very last treatment. I’m never going back to that clinic again.

I feel deep sympathy for that caretaker woman. I have a sneaking feeling of suspicion that the thing that creeps in the house with that sickly old man is going to do something morbid to the nice caretaker lady. I think she knows it’s going to happen. She seems to think it’s too late. The malevolent spirit has followed the sad caretaker woman into her own home.

Many years ago I visited the mother of friend of mine. She was lying on her death bed. They were poor people, had almost no money at all. I walked down the gloomy hall of the old house with floor boards creaking under my feet which sent a roach scurrying for cover. I entered the room that literally reeked with the foul odor of death. The old woman recognized me and managed to speak a few halting words indicating she was very thankful that I had taken time to come see her.

I noticed she seemed not to be looking directly at me, but at something over my shoulder. The feeling was uncanny. Finally, I turned to look, but all I saw was a crucifix on the wall over a Bible on a little wooden table covered with a white lace cloth. In departing, I wished the sorely afflicted old woman well and said I’d be back to visit her again soon.

She died later that night. At the funeral, her son, who had been at the pharmacy picking up meds for his mom during my visit, asked me who my girlfriend was and why I hadn’t introduced him to her, especially since she was apparently very beautiful. I was perplexed. I explained that I had no girlfriend at the time. He gave me a quizzical look and asked me if I was messing with his head, just joking around. I explained again that I was not dating anyone.

He then asked me if she wasn’t my girlfriend, was she a relative. I told him I didn’t know what he was talking about. He said it wasn’t very nice of me to be playing pranks on him when his mother had just passed away. I swore I wasn’t playing a prank.

He wanted to know who the girl was I had with me when I visited his mom the day she died. I told him I had visited his mother alone and that if he didn’t believe me he could ask the hospice nurse who was there at the time.

I felt a weird sensation course through my veins at what my friend said next. He told me that his mom had wanted to know the name of the beautiful girl who I had brought with me to visit. He said his mom told him that the girl remained at her bedside for a while after I left. She said the girl was very sweet and gentle as she took my friend’s dying mother by the hand and kindly reassured her that she had no need to worry because everything was going to be all right.

The paranormal, the supernatural, the metaphysical, the spiritual, the ghostly, the haunting - it is all real and all of these realms are quintessential to horror writing. The people I’ve suggested for you to talk to shall greatly appreciate your interest in hearing their stories, though some of them might not like talking about horror because of the horror they are facing. At any rate, you will come away with ideas for writing horror that you could have discovered by no other means.

Beware though, when you share in their stories, you share in their lives. Take me, for example, what haunts me may begin to haunt you after reading this answer.

Mastery of the language in which you are writing is of utmost importance to any sphere of storytelling, including horror, yet there’s another language for writing horror - the language of fear. Those who I’ve listed in this answer know true fear. I know true fear. If you want to write horror that is ghoulishly diabolical with macabre vividly transporting plots of shadow, mystery, and suspense terrifyingly composed of mortifying characters that reach out with the rotten hands of decaying flesh and grab readers by the throat, then talk to people who know real horror.

The spine-chilling legends penned by horror author Sean Terrence Best are at your fingertips via Books-A-Million,, Barnes&Noble, and many other booksellers.

© Copyright 2018 Sean Terrence Best. All rights reserved.

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