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  • Autumn Sullivan

Why Day Scares Are So Effective

I got home from an errand. Hubby and Girl Child were both out. I opened the hall closet to get the dog bags out, and then went to let our two dogs out.

As I was opening the sliding glass door, a door slammed behind me. I turned around. The bedroom door was closed. The hall closet door was closed.


Huh, I thought, I must have shut the closet door harder than I thought.


I took the dogs out, and came back inside.


The bedroom door was open.


I froze. It had definitely been closed. I knew it, because I'd stopped to look when I'd heard the door slam earlier.


As I stood there staring at the door, it slammed shut.


The door. Slammed. Shut.


I started to shake, tears stinging my eyes. The truck keys were on the counter, just inches from my hand. I wondered if I could get back out of the sliding glass door, run through the back yard, and make it through the gate before whatever the hell was on the other side of that door came after me.


Right then, my husband threw open the door, already laughing.

Why did the closing door work so well to scare me?


Because day scares are powerful. Even as children, we understand the unspoken agreement that monsters will only come out at night. That dawn is "safe."

When horror makes us confront the possibility that the monsters are still there in the daytime, we lose our safe zone.


Day scares make us contemplate reality. At night, we chalk up strange noises to "the wind" or "squirrels in the attic." When we see something lurking in the moonlight, we tell ourselves we can't see well, we don't know what we saw.


But when something paranormal happens in the raw, unflinching light of day, you cannot blame the shadows. You have to question, Is this real? Is ANY of this real?


Day scares fuck with you.


Which is why, as a horror writer, I love them.


But also, as a scaredy-cat, why I love them happening to someone else.

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