For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
Wallace Stevens- The Snow Man
I haven’t been sleeping a lot lately. I haven’t slept properly for a week and a bit. A lot, I’m euphoric, the tiredness is okay. Mornings are swift. I like it. (I don’t like the nightmares, the constant assaults on my sleep. I don’t like having my heart stopped, I don’t like being unable to breathe. I don’t like cold sweats, cold sheets. But I like not sleeping).
But I’ve been getting scared about the thing. There are some things, repeated in so many legends, myths, folklores, cultures that they must be real. Like vampires. They’re not what I’m scared of, now. Ultimately, I believe in the truth of stories. I have to because it’s what I do. At my interview, I defended the statement that “all stories are basically true” because I had written it (honestly) on my personal statement, and I believe that there are recurring symbols and themes that repeat everywhere.
And I have seen something.
There’s a novel I read last year, Dark Matter by Michelle Paver. Isolated in the North, at the Pole, in the constant light or constant darkness, the man encounters what… a ghost? A twisted remnant of a human “there was something in his stance I did not like […] one shoulder hanging slightly lower than the other” (I remember that quotation off the top of my head because it frightened me so much). The point isn’t what happens or doesn’t, or whether it is real or not real. The point is that once he has seen it there is no turning back. The option is flight and even that doesn’t always work.
The Slender Man: No defined history. That’s essential to the point. : http://www.mythicalcreaturesguide.com/page/Slender+Man (I can’t go into it in detail because I am awake, alone, frightened to a point I cannot describe. To the point that woke me). He is a new legend, Internet created, a game. That is NOT the point. The point is that he (something therealike) exists. Once you have seen him you cannot escape. He cannot be erased.
The Sand Man:
Wikipedia (I know, I know): 1- Ole-Luk-Oie seats himself upon the bed. He is nicely dressed; his coat is made of silken fabric; it is impossible to say of what color, for it changes from green to red, and from red to blue as he turns from side to side. Under each arm he carries an umbrella; one of them, with pictures on the inside, he spreads over the good children, and then they dream the most beautiful stories the whole night. But the other umbrella has no pictures, and this he holds over the naughty children so that they sleep heavily, and wake in the morning without having dreams at all.
2- E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776–1822) wrote an inverse depiction of the lovable character in a story called Der Sandmann, which showed how sinister such a character could be made. According to the protagonist’s nurse, he threw sand in the eyes of children who wouldn’t sleep, with the result of those eyes falling out and being collected by the Sandman, who then takes the eyes to his iron nest on the moon, and uses them to feed his children. The protagonist of the story grows to associate this nightmarish creature with the genuinely sinister figure of his father’s associate Coppelius.
And this ghost. : A Nordic variety of the Icelandic draugr, draugs are most often identified with the spirits of mariners drowned at sea ). Having been denied proper burial themselves, they haunt the shores of Norway to bring doom upon any mariner who sees them. Conversely, they are only visible to their future victims.
I know how I sound. But I woke in a state thinking about this and there is, there has to be, something true. And OK, Whitstable is the nearest seaside and I presume (should I?) draugs are few. That, again, is not the point.
When an idea has taken hold
there is no letting go.