My name is Tom and I am the idiot who sees a Reddit thread titled “what is the creepiest unexplained thing that’s ever happened to you” at 1 AM, home alone, and thinks that yes, that seems like a good thing to click on. These places are mostly repositories for repurposed urban legends, and the occasional half-baked creepypasta, but nonetheless: some of these stories stick with me. One that continues to trouble my memory centres at inopportune moments goes something like this. A man (I think he might have been an ex-marine) was driving on some rural highway late at night. He turns a corner and sees a car, stationary, in the middle of the road, with two people lying on the ground outside of it. It doesn’t look like an accident. It looks staged. He trusts his instincts and guns it past the bizarre scene and then, when he checks it out in his rearview, the two people stand up, and are joined by another dozen or so individuals who emerge from the bushes either side of the road. Fuck every single part of this story, and David Lynch and Mark Frost for reminding me of it.
As a kid, I was kind of stupid. I was super into the supernatural, an interest that lingers to this day, in a less intense way. My trips to the library were mostly focussed on finding graphic novels that weren’t for adults, and similarly kid-friendly titles about UFOs, ghosts, crop circles, spontaneous combustion. There was a surprising surfeit of compendiums which explained the Roswell crash, or the Enfield Haunting, in child-friendly prose – with plenty of full-colour pictures to boot! I don’t know if it was because of the X-Files, or if there was just something in the air, but the nineties seemed particularly geared towards getting kids into the arcane. Neil Buchanan, of Art Attack and fronting a heavy metal band fame, hosted a CITV show called It’s a Mystery which investigated topics as many and varied as the Loch Ness Monster and people getting trapped in abandoned tube stations. Its creepy, Twilight Zone-biting opening still haunts me.