Monday, March 02, 2009

Take The Tater Train To Terror Town

Have you ever been doing something and suddenly a freaky voice comes across the TV or radio saying that a test of the Emergency Broadcast System is about to take place and even though they assure you that it's only a test, the sound they play strikes primordial fear into your very soul?

I have.

One of those uncontrollable unexplained phenomena of my existence involved me being so terrified of ordinary Emergency Broadcast Test announcements I would drop my Lego and scurry into the kitchen, to the relative safety of seeing where my mother was. Eventually she caught on, something about me running out of the room every single time a special report would break into a show must have given it away, and to this day we laugh heartily over, "This is a test," or "This is a special report," being followed by the sound of my feet in the hallway.

It still scares the living crap out of me.

While I get that special reports back in the '80s usually meant bad things had happened, I won't even try to deny that I still have random unwarranted fears, usually when I'm tired, usually when I'm confronted with something I don't recognize, and usually I end up laughing so hard at it that I eventually end up blogging about the things my mind does to me so you can all have a good laugh.

The most recent incident of "The Fear" was triggered by an NPR show called, fittingly, Hearing Voices.

Clicking on the link will take you to the very show, and the offending segment begins around the second minute. Listening to it now, it's clever, this interaction with Julie, the Amtrak God. Only the night--or rather, morning--it played on WFUV I had just had a nice day complete with a visit from family who traveled by Amtrak. It was, needless to say, much much later. Early, people who sleep call it.

I had just finished washing my face when I first noticed the disembodied female voice saying, "I don't know."

She didn't exactly sound anything at all like anyone in my family, but suddenly here was this woman making travel plans in my head where once there was music coming out of my headphone radio. The other disembodied voice was guessing what the woman meant by, "I don't know," and their exchange went on until the voice said something terrifying.

"I think you asked for November 10th."

Now, when automated disembodied voices mention dates that naturally freak me out and no one else in the house is awake, bad things start happening. The afterimage of the bathroom light drifts through darkened rooms trying to get me, the eyes of my Mr. Potato Head Darth Vader start following me everywhere I go, and I...scurry into the room where my mother was sleeping until I bounced off the wall to just stand there like an idiot, the pulse in my ears somewhere around 500 and my arms doing their own involuntary dance that would put the Hand Jive to shame. Flailing, I think it's called.

At this point changing the radio station to some innocuous disco was completely out of the question, not that it had occurred to me. Sunday morning radio is populated by freaky talking people but rarely is anything so mentally jarring as a chick who keeps saying, "I don't know," and having a computer guess what she wants.

Some hours later, after I'd blacked out for a while and got up to do Sunday-like things, I came out of the bathroom to find...standing in the doorway of my room...staring right at me...Darth Tater.

The part of my Darth Tater is played by the Darth Tater of Jake Faulkner

Reason #97 my Mum rules: the same twisted sense of humor.


Anne D. said...

YIKES! Be very glad you didn't live through the late-50s, early-60s air raid stuff. We were all seriously terrified that the A-bomb would drop at any time (those evil Russkies). At noon every Saturday the horrible wailing LOUD air-raid siren would be tested at the fire station; one time, it went off five minutes early and I ran inside crying, bracing myself for the flash of the bomb. Just thinking of that siren sound makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up!

I totally approve of Darth Tater. Somewhere I have the Spud Trooper, too. ;-)

Wigwam Jones said...

In small towns in the midwest, the air raid siren still goes off every Saturday at noon or 1 p.m. Not kidding.

But I have been hearing voices for so long, I think would miss them if they were gone. Most of them tell me to pay my bills, go to work, make the bed. Some speak Spanish - I don't. And then there is the one that seems to be a tour guide, taking people I don't know on tours through various parts of my brain while I sleep.

The last one kept telling me that the eye has no muscles for looking down, only up, which is unique in human physiology. I have no idea if that is true or not. The voice said so. Another just keeps repeating 'The Palatine Cup' over and over. I have no idea what a Palatine Cup is.

BrideOfPorkins said...

Anne, Oy vey! I was still terrified of The Bomb all through the ', now I just walk outside and go, "Eh, roof needs fixing anyway." (Seriously, we have an air raid siren somewhere around here and it freaks me out when they test it because I'm never sure if it's a test or a tornado or worse. I guess so far it's only been tests.)

Darth Tater approves of your Spud Trooper, I can tell because his stare isn't as menacing at the moment. ;)

Wiggy, good to know those voices visit you, too. That's what was alarming about this travel agent, she totally wasn't one of the people in my head, and at that hour, I wasn't expecting them to have friends over.

Tell your eye muscle voice I read something that said when the brain blanks out the movement of the eyes turning so by the end of the day the average person has spent 40 minutes blind.

Sounds like you've got one determined soccer player in there.