Sunday, March 10, 2013

Fire Breathing Toaster: What's Scarier, the Basement or the Attic?

by Bill Adler

It's 3 AM and there's a noise. You were sound asleep, hanging out with Johnny Depp on the beach, and there's a noise. It's not terribly loud, but it is unnatural, like a breathless cat dragging a broken leg along the floor.

Would you rather that noise come from the basement or attic? Which place would you rather have to investigate, protected only by a tepid flashlight with batteries that may only have minutes left? Which place is scarier in the middle of the night?

The basement has more real dangers. Burglars, deranged murderers, crazies, rabid deer -- it's possible that any of these could have entered the basement through a door, window, or by cutting through the wall.

It's not likely that a burglar is going to scale the walls and enter your house through the attic. But it is, in my estimation, more likely that in the attic you'll find a ghost, vampire or some unnamed creature. The attic is the place of unknowable dangers that you can't see until it's too late.

That noise in the basement -- if it's a murderer, things will be over quick. Unless it's the kind of murderer who wants to entomb you in a wall, still alive, where you'll stay in pitch darkness until the end comes, but only after you've gone mad from thirst and the dark. 

The noise in the attic could lead you to something that's out of the most frightful Lovecraftian nightmare. Something that puts its hand --its deformed, decaying, hand-- on you, and when it touches you, your body feels like it's been dropped into ice-filled gorge. It is something half dead that cannot die as long as it consumes the living and you are next. The room smells of rotting, dead flesh and you...

Okay. Back to the question: Which is scarier, basement or attic? Never mind that crickets are more likely be found in the basement, and invisible spider webs in the attic. For me, it's a toss-up. Do I want to be axed to death by the death row inmate who's escaped and is hiding in the basement, or to I want to become a zombie, after that thing, that earth-covered thing that rose from the beneath the soil in Rock Creek Park, bites me? The whole axe-murderer scenario is kind of possible, and I unless I absolutely have to, I'll wait until whatever is upstairs returns to the earth at sunrise.


Bill Adler is the co-publisher of the Cleveland Park Listserv, He is the author of "Boys and Their Toys: Understanding Men by Understanding Their Relationship with Gadgets," and "Outwitting Squirrels," He tweets at @billadler.

Fire Breathing Toaster is a new column on the Cleveland Park Listserv. It doesn't yet have a home on a particular day. What does Fire Breathing Toaster mean? It's doesn't mean much, but it's a fun image, and once the column name popped into my head, it stuck.

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