First published in Crossroads #19, October 1997
SPIDERS AND bugs scare the crap out of me. I know, I know, I'm 6' 3" and they are tiny little creatures - the creepy chill I get when something skitters out from beneath the freezer in the basement simply shouldn't occur. But it does. "Treats" was an attempt to write about this all-too familiar fear of bugs many of us have.
I thought I would approach the story with the idea of the fear of bugs being so strong in a person that it extended to fearing what would happen beyond death when they were buried. Wouldn't the bugs crawl into the coffin and get at their body? (Was this a natural extension of my own strange fear of being buried? - not buried alive, which is terrifying, but just the idea of being in a box 6 feet under the earth for the rest of eternity).
I imagined a man who so cherished his wife that, on her deathbed, he promised her that he wouldn't bury her, at least until the flesh was fully off of her bones. The rest of the story seemed to just roll together on its own momentum.
The rhyme from the kids came naturally enough - it's simply part of the script of childhood to pick a lonely hermit-like old person living on their street and spread rumours and stories about them regardless of any basis of fact, often making up some sort of nasty rhyme. The twist her, of course, is that there is some truth to their rhyme.
The story gave me the creeps. It freaked out my wife, who, believe it or not, is a little bit more scared of bugs than I am. It's hard to believe that anyone can scream louder and in a higher pitched voice when surprised by a bug than me, but it's true. Despite my own fear of creepy crawling critters, Francine regards me as the "bug eliminator" champion in our household. Even relative triumphs can be celebrated, no?
I walked away from this tale satisfied with having explored this fear and created a character in Percy that I really felt for.
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One Hand ScreamingHorror
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