Something weird going on? Don’t wonder what to do. Just imagine what someone in a horror movie would do. And then do it.
Footprints not yours on an uninhabited island. Uninhabited island—that’s what the travel agent said—just the two of you. Make love on the beach out in the big wide open, let it all hang out, fall asleep in the sun. When you wake up and see footprints that cannot possibly be yours or your partner’s, don’t even bother to put your clothes back on before you follow those footprints from the beach into the forest. When you can’t see footprints any more, pick up a big stick and start whacking at the vegetation and shouting “who’s there?!”
Weird knocking and scurrying sounds coming from the attic. Go up there and look. Those dusty old-fashioned boxes over there? Go over there and move them around and shake them and stuff and try to open them. If you can’t get one open all the way, just stick your hand in it and feel around. That grimy foot-locker-like thing with the old-fashioned lock? Go downstairs and get a hammer, then bang the lock open. Nothing in there? Wondering if a person would fit in there? Get in.
Noisy bones. You find some bones—probably human–a short walk from where you’ve set up camp for a week. Dig up as many as you can. Make wind chimes with the ones that look like phalanges and hang them from a tree near the tent. When they start making a really loud racket when there’s no wind whatsoever, and your friend comments on how weird that is, tell your friend she’s always just imagining things.
Something several yards out in the water thrashing around. Like some big animal, and shooting spray up like that recreational water vehicle you were in yesterday? Get in the water. Walk out there and investigate.
Screaming in a nearby car. Instead of doing your taxes or initiating that long-overdue break-up with your most recent shiftless and possibly criminal lover, you go to the mall and spend a couple of hours going from store to store looking for some shoes exactly like those you saw on someone in a restaurant last night. Where are those damn shoes? Did you just imagine them? Disappointed and empty handed, you are about to get in your car and drive home when you hear screaming coming from a car nearby. Go over to that car. There’s something that could be blood spattered so densely on the windows that you can’t really ascertain much about the occupants of the car. The screaming has stopped. Knock loudly on the window and holler “Are you ok? Can I help you?”
You have a low opinion of the people in the town where you are vacationing. Think they are slow-witted and probably deeply inbred and what’s more their food tastes like shit? You could ponder your expectation that everyone in the world should be like you and everyone’s food should be like yours back home. You could possibly let go of this unreasonable expectation and find a way to have a good time. Don’t do that. Instead, go to a bar, strike up a conversation with a couple of big burly locals and share your feelings about the local population. Don’t hold back.
Sounds like people whispering in the back yard in the middle of the night. Sounds like lots of people. Go out there to look around, and when the sound stops, start hollering things like “I know you’re out there,” “come on out you cowards,” and so on. When no one responds, walk around in the dark hollering that you are going to find them and when you do, you are going to call the police.
Sweetheart has a strange feeling that someone else is on the boat. That’s just impossible, but lord how you love her–humor her, go below deck and investigate. Walk around enough so you won’t exactly have to lie about having looked absolutely everywhere. After ten minutes of half-assed searching, you figure it’s ok to go up and tell your sweetheart that she is imagining things. When you see two strangers there, one tapping his thigh with a machete and the other holding your sweetheart up by her hair, try to buy some time and throw them off guard by acting as if you were expecting them and offering to whip up a delicious cocktail or, if they aren’t drinkers, a delicious mocktail. Tell them you can make one that tastes exactly like a Manhattan.
In the house of the kindly but creepy old lady down the street. You take her mail that has been mis-delivered to you. She is so grateful, and she practically forces you to come in. She’s slow and shaky, she must be both old and frail. Poor thing. She brings out a cake that looks like—the only thing you can think it looks like is some kind of joke cake. When she insists that you take a piece of it, eat it. Unlike any cake you’ve ever had, this one is extremely bitter and astringent. But remember your manners. It’s rude to refuse offers of food. Banish the word poison from your mind and eat that piece of cake. All of it.
In the apartment of someone you’ve only recently met. Someone you had one date-like kind of meeting with last week. When she says she’d like you to take your clothes off and then she wants to tie you up, say you’d really like that too. When she brings out some really big rope—really big, like you could pull a boat with it or something—say wow, baby, bring it on.
Dog acting strange. He’s been barking at nothing and nipping at you all day. Tell yourself the dog is just old and cranky. When the dog starts speaking in what sounds like Latin or Romanian, tell yourself that you are just imagining things.
Staying at the Bluebeard B & B. When the host is showing you around, he points to a door and with a threatening kind of look on his face, unless you are just imagining things, tells you that no one is ever allowed to go in there and you should not even think about trying to go in there. Wake up in the middle of the night thinking about that room. Go to that room. When you find the door slightly ajar, go in there. When you see what looks like the body parts of several people scattered around the room in a bloody mess, take a closer look, it can’t be real, it must be a joke of some kind.
Something big in the water near your foot. Hard to tell if it’s just a shadow or an enormous stingray or some kind of sea monster. Just remember that nothing bad will ever happen to you. Go ahead, kick it.