Since coming back to Scotland I have changed from a nighttime to a daytime runner. The weather isn’t an issue so there isn’t a need to run in the dark. In truth the dark had always scared me.
A memory from China…
The blazing sun has left the sky. The heat has dissipated and although the humidity is still unforgiving the prospect of running seems reasonable.
It is 9pm.
The track is dark. Some of the lights are dim, the floodlights doing most of the work from up high. A bat might fly past the floodlight creating a batman shadow on the ground while the occasional jumping creature scares me from below.
My headphones keep out most of the strange night noises; crickets, rattles, squawks and other oddities. I’m more afraid than I will admit.
The track is safe, I can see things moving on its flat surface… But the grass? The grass might ripple in the wind. The grass hides the bugs, frogs and, from what I’ve been told, snakes. The grass is a no go zone.
But these are all tangible fears. Its almost understandable that I’d be scared of these things. But then as I run, distracting myself from the laps but thinking, I end up in the strange dark recesses of my mind.
The trees on the other side of the fence seem unfriendly. I grow aware that the lack of light means anything could be watching me. Yeah, anything. Alive or dead, real or fake. Who knew?
Running westward I look into the trees, scanning for nothing in particular but feeling fear regardless. Even worse was running eastward, with my back to them.
Enough of the trees! There is nothing there!
But it is too late. My mind brings forth images of every internet baddie, every ghost and ghoul I knew of. Slender in the trees; the Rake who would follow you from the dark and sit watching you at the end of your bed; Skin crawler who assumed the form of others in order to lure them to death. Creepy pasta indeed.
I turn the corner, keep going. The bench is there sitting under the floodlight, and it is here I become most unreasonable. Are the legs of the bench fixed? Are they moving? Could they run?
Without realising it I was running faster as if to get away from this unreasonable fear, only to face it again on the next lap. Was it in the same place? Had it moved? I couldn’t answer with certainty, such was my fear.
At the end of the run I wanted out. No hanging around watching stars. I put on my phone’s flashlight and walked quickly home. I did not sleep well.
Convinced still of something just outside my eyeline…