Don’t Wig Out

“Hey, Kyr,” Drac called from the van as I headed back towards the house after loading up a pile of extension cords. “Can you grab the camera and the REM pod out of the attic?”

Great, I thought. The attic. But, not wanting them to think I was shirking my duties or that I was afraid, I called back, “I’m on it.”

I dashed up the stairs to the second floor and paused on the landing, looking down the hall towards the back bedroom. Thankfully, Steele was taking down equipment in that room. There was no way I was going back in there tonight. Even now, I was certain I could sense negative energy radiating from that end of the hallway. Either that, or it was just knowing that Steele was down there. I gave myself a shake and headed in the other direction towards the attic stairs.

Compared to what I had felt on the second floor, the energy coming from the attic seemed downright friendly. I flipped the light switch and heard a loud pop. “Damn it,” I muttered. “Of all times for a light bulb to blow.” I let out a huff and reached in my back pocket for my flashlight. I groaned when I realized it wasn’t there; it must still be in the graveyard, I thought.

Rolling my eyes, I stomped up the stairs, too tired to run all the way back out to the van and then all the way back up to the attic. I was sure there was enough moonlight coming through the window for me to tear down the equipment. I just hoped that nothing else would decide to show itself while I was up there alone.

The REM pod was easy enough to collect and set by the top of the stairs. Next, I found the camera in the corner by one of the far windows. I thought it was odd that it wasn’t plugged in at the outlet right next to it, but I just shrugged and followed the extension cord to the back part of the attic where all the boxes and other junk were stacked. The floor boards creaked as I carefully picked my way back through the darkness. I found the outlet and unplugged the camera. As I stood up, I felt something brush across my face and hair. Wonderful. A spider web. As I frantically wiped at my face to get rid of the sticky web, I stepped backwards and bumped into a stack of boxes. Something toppled from the top of the stack, hit me on the head, and landed right in my hands. As soon as I saw what it was, I screamed and threw it down, and then turned and made a beeline for the stairs, not wanting to be in the same room as that thing.

Just as I reached the top of the stairs, I ran headlong into someone. “Carter, what the hell is wrong with you?” Great, it would just have to be Steele, wouldn’t it? He grasped me by the shoulders, and I noticed that he was leaning backwards, obviously not wanting to be on the receiving end of my fist again.

I pulled away from him and leaned against the windowsill, still breathing heavily. I swept a straggling lock of hair out of my face and muttered, “Nothing. I’m fine, Steele.” That wasn’t exactly true. The energy in the room had suddenly changed, but I couldn’t tell if it was there was a spirit present, or if was just because Steele had shown up.

Steele brought a foot up to the top step and leaned forward, propping one elbow on his knee and resting his other arm on the top of the banister. His expression was unreadable as he replied, “You don’t sound fine.” He raised himself up and glanced around the attic before asking, “What happened? Did you see something?” He came the rest of the way up the steps and began walking around slowly.

“No, I didn’t,” I insisted, trying to figure out how I could get him to leave before he figured out what had frightened me and made a joke of it.

He stopped pacing and turned to look at me. I tried to hold his gaze, but his eyes seemed to bore into me, making my knees tremble and my stomach do somersaults. What was wrong with me? “Well, something made you scream like that,” he declared. “Again.” Obviously, he couldn’t resist taking a jab at me.

At last I just decided to tell him a half truth, hoping it would be enough. “It wasn’t anything paranormal, Steele. I stumbled against some boxes, and…something…fell down and scared the daylights out of me. That’s all.”

I could hear the suppressed laughter in his voice as he continued walking towards the back of the attic. “If you say so, Carter. So what was it? A rubber spider? A plastic snake? A scary mask?” He kept listing things that he obviously believed would scare a woman, but I didn’t respond. There was no way I would tell him what it was. Suddenly his foot hit something and sent it spinning across the floor. “What the…?”

Oh no, I thought. That sounded like…

Steele bent down to pick something up. When he stood up with a grin on his face that I could see even in the darkness all the way across the room, I felt my face flush as I fought the urge to run down the stairs and out of the house. “This is what scared the daylights out of you?” When I didn’t answer him, he burst out laughing and said incredulously, “It is, isn’t it? Really, Carter? You lost your head over a Styrofoam wig head?”

~Excerpt from The Newbie, by Leta Hawk

One of my readers commented that Kyrie Carter is quite the character, and I think she’s right.Out of all of Kyr’s personality traits, I think my favorite is her quirky assortment of fears and phobias. While she’s got some of the more mainstream phobias, such as fear of heights and fear of thunderstorms (both of which come into play in the second book, School Spirits), one of her more unusual fears is wigheadphobia, the fear of styrofoam wig-display heads.

Where did I come up with that one? Well…

When I was very young, I’m thinking not more than 5 or 6, I had a dream that at the time scared the daylights out of me, and that I recall very vividly to this day. In the dream, I was riding in a car with my dad–and not just any car; it was the Flintstones’ car–just taking a Sunday drive through the countryside. I was in the back seat, and my dad was driving. All around us, the scenery was beautiful–farmlands dotted with cows, the occasional house or country church, a clear blue sky. All at once, we drove beneath an overpass; when we came out the other side, the entire landscape had changed. It was now nighttime, with no moon or stars, yet I could see what lined the hills all around–you guessed it: styrofoam wig heads, as far as the eye could see. What made it even creepier was the fact that as we drove past, they all turned to watch us. Frightened, I leaned up to the front seat to tell my dad I wanted to go home…and he wasn’t there. The car was now driving itself, meaning I was all alone in this wig-head-overrun landscape. Thankfully, I woke up before anything more could happen.

Not surprisingly, I had a fear of wig heads for the rest of my childhood and into adulthood. I’m not really sure when I grew out of that fear, and honestly, if I’d ever find myself locked in a room full of them, I can’t say for certain that I wouldn’t go into full panic mode as Kyr did in the Berkeley mansion attic.

So, let’s just hope that doesn’t happen….

What is the strangest thing you’ve ever been afraid of? Answer in the comments below, or create your own post and link to this one.

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