As I’ve said before, I’ve always enjoyed scary stories, whether they be books, movies or just verbal works of horror passes down from one storyteller to the next.
But before Prisoners, before The Exorcist, before Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, there was one story that really drove shivers down my back.
There are no ghosts, evil demons or knife-wielding psychopaths, but as a child this story scared the absolute piss out of me. Literally.
This tale is wildly simple; a black cat makes its way from a “dark dark” moor, through a “dark dark wood” and into a “dark dark” house.
As it makes its way through the house, the cat confronts something so scary, so frightening…it’s…
Okay okay, so the story isn’t particularly scary. In fact, as an almost-31-year-old, I find it pretty silly that I was ever so scared of it in the first place.
Much like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, A Dark Dark Tale isn’t scary for the actual story.
What makes it spooky is the illustrations, and the Weston Woods (a company that used to produce children’s stories for TV, much like Reading Rainbow) audiobook that my parents surprisingly kept in our living room.
So not only was the story packed with spooky imagery, but the sadistic bastards at Weston Woods thought it was a great idea to set the illustrations to ominous music, and one creepy-ass narrator.
But, as scared as I was every time I read/watched it, I absolutely loved A Dark Dark Tale.
As a friggin 4-year-old, I actually took the book with me to preschool and read it to the other students.
I memorized the narration from the audiobook, complete with sound effects (I perfected the sound of a door slooooooooowly creaking open quite early in my life), and the other kids loved it.
But for some reason, A Dark Dark Tale never gave THEM nightmares. Only me.
It probably had something to do with the ghastly shadows that the night light cast upon the walls in our old house when it was time to go to sleep.
Of course, if I closed the bedroom door so I couldn’t SEE those ghastly shadows, then I would cower in fear thinking that someone or something was on the other side of the door, just waiting to come in and get me.
Needless to say, my parents got pretty tired of having a third person in their bed.
But dammit, I was scared!
Jeez, it still spooks me just thinking about it, though.
My dog Crackers started barking next to me while I was writing this post, and I almost fell out of my damn chair.
Here’s to childhood trauma 🍺!