You’re probably wondering about the title of this post. Well, I’m not talking about going Oooooh in the sense of being excited or thrilled or awestruck; I’m not even referring to going Ooooooh in a sensual way…. I am talking about going Ooooooh as the result of a good-old fashioned moment of having the pants scared off you.
We all have things that we’re afraid of, that scare us. Some of those things live in the material world – spiders, thunderstorms, big dogs, middle-aged men in skinny jeans. But many of those things are more insubstantial, veering into the realm of the paranormal, the supernatural – ghosts, goblins, things that go bump in the night.
You all know that I enjoy a little flutter with all things paranormal. I am in no way adverse to a bit of ghost hunting, chats with psychics and spooky storytelling. I enjoy horror/spooky movies, books and TV shows and feel to a certain extent that I am fairly hardened when it comes to things that would scare your average person.
But there are some things that do scare me. My friends and I talk a lot about things that give us a chill, that make us want to hide under the covers or get out the rosary beads. I have a three things that do that for me.
The first is that scene from The Exorcist where the priest is standing under the lamp post.
For some reason that scene freaks me out. I think it’s the shadows, the kind of Gothic nature of the house, knowing what the priest is in for…..whatever it is, that scene gets me every single time.
The second thing that scares me is when I catch a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye and I turn around and there’s nothing there. I hate that.
The third thing is when I see normal looking people out of context.
I’ll explain about the out of context.
I’m helping my friend Sara edit her book at the moment. We have been working fairly late so when she finishes we leave via the back lane where I walk her up to the main road so she can easily get a cab.
The other night at around 11.30PM we popped the back gate open, stepped into the laneway, only to be surprised by a woman standing there. She had long, blonde curly hair and was very tall. She looked to be about 30 years old. Well over six foot. Both of us commented afterwards about how tall she was.
She was dressed in a long, flowery peasant skirt and a lacy top. When we stepped into the lane she just stood there. I asked her if she was OK, if she was lost, was everything all right, and she looked at me, tilted her head to one side, but said nothing. It was the fact that she had obviously heard me but said nothing that freaked Sara and I out.
‘I’m frightened of insane people,’ Sara said, edging closer to me.
‘Can I help you?’ I asked the woman again. She tilted her head once more but once again said nothing.
I decided the best thing to do was to get Sara home and then deal with the laneway lurker. So I walked Sara up to the main road and got her into a cab. As we walked away the woman stayed where she was but she didn’t take her eyes off us. Sara was in a state about leaving me on my own but she knows it takes a lot to spook me and that I might just be a little bit mad myself, so I assured her I would be fine. However, as I was heading back towards the laneway my heart began to pound and Sara’s comment sounded in my head – I’m frightened of insane people.
I hoped upon hope the woman was gone, but as I entered the laneway I saw she was still there, standing exactly where she’d been when we’d left her. I was wearing a black hoodie so I pulled the hood up over my head, put my head down and began to walk towards her. I think she thought I was a guy because she began to edge backwards, so I played on that and began to walk like a guy – firmly stepping with my legs apart and flexing my shoulders. It must have been hilarious to see, me in my black hoodie and old converse gym boots stomping up the laneway like a female Russian weightlifter with bad hemorrhoids and her in her flowery, hippie child garb with her not of this world look on her face. What a scene.
The closer I got to her the faster she moved but she continued to walk backwards instead of turning around. It was a little strange. When I got to my gate I opened it and slipped inside, peeking around the edge to see if she was still moving away. She was, but she was still moving backwards. She walked that way right to the end of the lane, turned the corner and was gone.
I stood by the gate for ten minutes, wanting to make sure she was indeed gone…unsettled. For about an hour afterwards I walked up to the gate several times, standing on a crate and looking over the fence to make sure she was gone.
You might think that was the end of the story but the next day I spoke to a neighbour who also uses the rear laneway (about 5 houses down from me) and she said her husband had heard his dog barking at 2AM the night before and had opened the back gate and there had been a woman standing there just looking at him. It was the same woman. So after my hour’s worth of checking to see if she had gone, she came back. My neighbour’s husband was as unsettled as I was and chased her down the laneway, following her round the corner where he saw her enter a house.
In the morning he rapped on the door and discovered the woman’s story. Her husband said she had lived in our street as a child and has gone through some difficult times lately including the death of both of her parents. She is experiencing some depression and other psychological issues and has taken to wandering the back lane at night. He has given us all his number in case she turns up again.
Now that I know the woman’s story I feel sad for her – I understand all too well the attachments that can form to places and things – and how hard it can be to let things go; and now that I know her story she seems less out of context, but it doesn’t mean my heart isn’t beating a little faster whenever I open the back gate.
That woman (even just the thought of her) makes me go Oooooooooh…..