A fear I have had since I was a child is a fear of the dark. And I often wonder how did this fear manifest itself. As children, back in the 60’s we were not exposed to horror movies or ghost stories, yet I can remember turning the light off before going to bed and trying to run and do a long jump onto the bed, for the fear of the bogeyman lying in wait in the darkness beneath the bed. Is this fear inbred, a sub-conscious feeling of the unknown that you cannot see?
And as I have grown up it is more the fear of things the go bump in the night, the possibility of an intruder rather than the unknown or the supernatural or the bogeyman.
Now living in Scotland where the mystery abounds, lying in my dark room I have no fear and logically can explain outside noises to the deer grazing, to sheep ambling passed my doorway.
But ……. my morning runs have turned into an exercise of pure will and determination. With the days getting shorter and shorter, I now start and end in the pitch dark and when I say pitch dark I mean pitch pitch dark!!! The short little road out the village is fine as it has a few street lights, but then the turn either left or right at the top of the road is like stepping into an abyss. It is like peering into a black hole especially on a starless night.
I have my little head light and luminous light up arm bands to ensure my visibility for the one in a million vehicle that might come around a corner. I have learnt to identify deer eyes that light up off to the side of the road, but got the fright of my life when I saw yellow orbs – about 20 of them seemingly hovering directly in front of me – unmoving. It was a flock of sheep just standing in the middle of the road. Not sure who got more of a fright, them or me. Here I curse my over active imagination of vikings and celtic ancestors watching me and in my mind I am talking to all by loved ones who might be out there also watching over me. A soft sound to the right which I catch above the sound of my own breath, finds me sprinting down the road.
Last week I think I might have broken my own speed record, I must have been about 1km into my run, my logic trying to dampen my gut feeling when all I can see is a small 1 m hallow of light in each direction I might look, with total darkness everywhere else, when I here the sound of a human singing. It is 6am, nearly winter and there is nothing but wild highlands around me. I stop in my tracks and then the voice starts to howl. I stop dead in my tracks. Turn my light off to see if I can see any other light – nothing – and the howl comes again, coming from the black wooded area below me. Then he starts to sing again – it echo’s around, it is eerie, it is terrifying. I turn tail, put my light back on and ran like I haven’t for many a year.
Serving guests at breakfast a few hours later, my heart rate is now back to normal, when we get an unusual walk in guest, single dreadlocked young man, with no luggage. just a small backpack, asking for breakfast for one. On seating him, I enquire “Good morning, would you like tea or coffee with your breakfast, and you weren’t by any chance in the local woods singing this morning?” His reply – “Yes he was!” So there is a logical explanation to everything.
So I am still going out in the dark (when the weather allows) but still with a lot of trepidation and my loved ones must be getting tired of my mental conversations with them, asking to keep any possible presence that may be out there intent on mischief, at bay.
The fear is still very real!