The Monsters

Storm clouds painted downtown Jackson’s usually tan brick buildings a gloomy shade of gray.  As I walked to the office, I noticed familiar faces standing outside of an office building. It was the unemployment office and the faces belonged to some pretty traditional Halloween characters. It was the first of November; they were out of work. There was Frankenstein. Dracula. The Mummy. A witch.  I even saw a clown with a red balloon. I asked him if he was Pennywise. He said, “No, I’m his half-brother, Nickleback.”

I wondered if he was kidding. I also wondered why I wasn’t frightened.  Maybe it’s because I’m adult. Or maybe the world is now scarier than fictional Halloween characters.  Even Vincent Price (a real Halloween character) seems like Mr. Rogers these days.

The sky opened up as rain began to pour down.  I, not carrying an umbrella, ducked into the doorway to join them.  The witch nodded and said, “I feel your pain. I melt like sugar when it rains.”

I laughed and decided to break the silence by putting on my interview hat.

“So what scares you?”

Frankenstein stepped up first.  “Obviously fire. I sure don’t like fire.  But also, I’m a bit worried about the state of the country.”

I wasn’t expecting him to say THAT. I asked, “How so?”

“I thought you watched the news,” Frankenstein said, “We’re so divided.  And now, it seems the Russians have been playing us against each other.”

I smirked, “You mean that’s not fake news?”

Frankenstein looked annoyed. Frankenstein always looks annoyed. ” That came from Facebook itself. Over 126 million Americans were exposed to stories from Russian Troll Farms during the last election.”

Russian Troll Farms sounds scary. “Is that were they grow trolls?” I asked.

Dracula spoke up, “No, that’s where they truly write fake news. Then they use our social media platforms to bombard us with it. We start fighting in the comment sections and next thing you know, we’re telling our high school friends to go to…”

The sun broke through the clouds and evaporated Dracula.

The witch, who was carefully avoiding a drip of water from a leak next to her, spoke next, “We’re mad at the NFL. We’re mad at the media. We’re mad at the outrage of the day. You know that. You read the comment section.”

“So what should scare us?” I asked.

A bat flew up and Dracula reappeared.  POOF.  “That was close,” he panted, “and to answer your question, we should be afraid of fear.”

“Isn’t that a bit ironic coming from a fictional horror character?” I asked incredulously. “You suck blood after all.”

The vampire looked me in the eye (I was guarding my neck) and said, “Look, we have people who are afraid they won’t have a meal. They are afraid that they won’t be able to afford their kids’ hospital bills. They are afraid that their kids won’t have a better life than they did.  They are fearful that their kids aren’t getting a decent education. College tuition? Yikes. That’s scary. Plus, don’t get me started on opioid drugs. And we ignore all that for what shiney object pops up in our social media feed.”

“Strong words,” I said.  The rain stopped and the sun began to shine. (Dracula ducked into the shade.) I realized I needed to get back to work so I wished them well and hoped they found work scaring people again.  Maybe they could get a real job scaring people by starting their own fake news troll farm.

 

 

About Marshall Ramsey