by Mark Rickerby When I was a kid, I was constantly terrified. My imagination was a bad neighborhood. I read scary comics like 'Tales From The Crypt' and watched horror films more than I should. The first Sunday morning of every month, I could be found at the local drug store looking for the latest issue of 'Monster' and other mags filled with blood, guts and gore. On Saturday night, my buddies and I would stay up late and watch B-horror flicks presented by Vampirella or Seymour and get our horrification fix. One would think I was a pretty tough little guy from all these 'inappropriate' movies and rags but I was actually the world's youngest insomniac. I had suitcases under my eyes, not just bags. But the thing that scared me the most, by far, didn't haunt houses or howl, creep or crawl. Frankenstein and Dracula were big sissies compared to typical, everyday DOLLS. During sleepovers at my best friend's house all the dolls in his little sister's room made me not just run back home to mommy, I'd run straight back up into the womb. I couldn't stand their cold, lifeless grins; their painted-on, glassy-eyed stares. They attempted to murder me night after night in tortured, tormented nightmares. Then Rod Serling had to throw in his two cents and make my night-time fear level climb when he introduced me to a one "Talky Tina" - the freakin' scariest doll of all time! Every night after that, I'd perform a routine to make sure I was completely alone. I'd check in the closet and under the bed with fear that made me quake to the bone. As I lay in my bed, hiding under the sheets, a sweaty, petrified, nervous wreck, I'd hear Tina say, 'I'm going to kill you' and feel her little hands grabbing my neck. Of course, that was a long, long time ago. Now I'm all grown up, brave and strong. Talky Tina never comes to call anymore and my slumber is peaceful and long. But sometimes even now, when the moon is right and the wind makes shadows dance on the wall, I imagine I see a small figure run by. I imagine I hear Tina call. I pull in my dangling hands and feet, yank the covers up over my head and I'm that goofy kid all over again lying scared and alone in my bed.
The end