Fear Training!

By Kyle B. Stiff

I had an intense flashback to my childhood and it put some things into perspective.

Any other old people out there ever freak out to THIS record back in the day?

great ghost stories

Great Ghost Stories… from 1973. I used to have this record when I was six or seven (this was in the 80s), and it was so terrifying that I thought it was like a portal to hell. My house already felt haunted, full of dark corners, ancient orange carpet from the 70s, and surrounded by thick woods. I spent a lot of time alone, and for some reason, instead of doing things to try to make believe I was in a happy, cheery world, I was drawn to this record. I had a burning curiosity, and even though I was convinced that playing this record was no different from stepping into a bleak nightmare with very little possibility of escape, I felt like I had to understand the nightmare. Only a person who could survive the darkness was capable of achieving godhood!

It might seem like I’m playing up the drama, but that’s really how strongly I felt about it! I couldn’t even hold this record without feeling as if I was standing on the brink of an endless abyss. The funny thing is, I found this thing again on youtube, and it’s dumb as hell. It’s just a bunch of goofy ghost stories. He put the tooth under his pillow… but the next day… it was gone! That kind of thing. Years later (but before I was a teenager) I watched Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th and experienced only a kind of robotic, autistic understanding of what was happening. I didn’t feel any fear, really, but just a vague curiosity. But this record! This record!!! Just hearing the crackle and hiss of this thing spinning made me think the evil spirits were going to come through and take me to their horrible world of endless darkness!


Looking back on it, I think maybe that stupid record gave me some really intense fear training, and maybe even helped me “incorporate my shadow” as Jung would say. I’m sure it shaped a lot of my writing. Most of my stories have a force that’s so dark and powerful that most people can’t even imagine it, and the people who take the risk of facing it must have something heroic in them (and also be a little bit crazy).

Then again, I don’t know if events shape us, or if we seek out the things that fit our souls. Whatever the case, if you give this goofy thing a listen, I just remembered that there’s a real spine-tingler in there about a guy who meets a series of cats that keep getting bigger and bigger. Finally the biggest cat of them all comes along, and then… and then… and then…!!!!!!!

(Kyle B. Stiff clutches his chest and falls over dead.)

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