The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment
July 22, 2023
I don't usually seek out the macabre or scary things when choosing a new book. But as the heat grows this summer, I decided I could use some cooling goosebumps. Goosebumps are the raising along the skin when one is blasted with cold air, or when suddenly confronted with a startling or eerie situation. Bumps rise up on the skin with a chill and sometimes travel down the neck along the spine. This is where the term "spine tingling" comes from. We need not wait for the chilly winds of fall and winter for a goosebumps experience. Just pour tea over some ice cubes and reach for a scary book. Let the bejeebers cool you down. What are bejeebers? They are the result of shock or fright that hits suddenly and severely.
I started my search for chills by re-visiting the 27 books in a series actually titled "Goosebumps." R. L. Stein wrote the first book "Welcome to Dead House" in 1992. These books joyfully terrified middle grade students along with teachers, parents and a few grandparents in the mix. Creepy, scary and bizarre, the term goosebumps is a perfect choice for this series' title.
Stein continued writing, including books for YA and adults. "Fear Street" combines three stories about a place where "strange things happen, people go missing, and terror abounds" as stated in promotional ads. Age level is 7th to 9th grade. "Red Rain" is written for adults and was received with mixed reviews. It has all the elements. Twin boys are adopted. Then strange occurrences with a mix of evil creates havoc in the family. An acquired taste?
Do clowns, rabid dogs, large pointed eye teeth, or pieced together flesh give you the willies? How about those ravens in your yard that stare you down? You can't go wrong with celebrated authors like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Anne Rice, Mary Shelley and the not to be left out Edgar Allen Poe. His poetry can make the hair literally stand on end across your head. Just thinking about some of these writers and their stories can get goosebumps going. Revisit your favorite horror writers again and catch up on any books you might have missed.
If some horror is too much for you today, think back to what scared you when you were younger. I remember the first time I read "The Hidden Staircase" by Carolyn Keene and got chills over the ghostly presence Nancy Drew encountered in the old house. Delicious! Later I dipped into Victorian Gothic writing with Phyllis Whitney and enjoyed chills going down my spine reading "Window on the Square." But some of the scariest stories are the ones that people tell of their own real life experiences.
Recently I read "Horror in the Pines" a collaboration by Autumn Barnes and Tom Lyons where they share nine reports told by individuals that faced terrifying and sometimes unexplainable situations. All of the occurrences took place outdoors, in forests and isolated areas. Some had closure at the end but lingering questions. Others had no closure at all.
Imagine camping with your best friend just a bit into the trees with the lights of your cozy home still visible beyond the forest edge. Watching a movie downloaded on your iPad, you both nod off to sleep, only to be awakened by the sounds of loud thudding, anguished blood curdling screams and heavy boots stomping in something wet and mucky. Do you stay in the tent or make a run for it? Run they did! And as they reached the safety of the house, they looked back to see a very large man wearing clown face makeup, swinging a bloody ax. This was report No. 9.
Did you know there is such a thing as the Nevada Triangle? Much like the Bermuda Triangle, there is a section of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California, stretching across desert-like land into Nevada and circling Area 51, where strange things occur and over 2,000 planes have gone missing in the last 60 years.
Report No. 8 In "Horror of the Pines" takes place within this triangle as a guy and his girlfriend hike into an isolated area. They realize something is wrong, but they set up their tent anyway. They see no wildlife, hear or see no birds, lizards or bugs. The only sound is an eerie moaning from the wind. I won't give you an ending here. But I will leave you with this...
We in Tehachapi live at the southern tip of the Sierras. Stories abound here from residents young and old. Folklore has been handed down by our native tribe the Kawaiisu, stories from hikers trekking our mountain trails, and watchers of our bright and wide open night sky. What is your story? What have you experienced? Did it give you goosebumps?
Good books. Good reading.
*Midge Lyn'dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.