Nyctophobia, literally meaning fear or hatred of night, is one of the words used to refer to the fear of the dark. However, in reality there is no such thing as fear of the dark. I make that claim because it’s not really the dark that we fear; it’s the unknown. We feel that if someone or something tries to attack us when it’s light out, we can see it coming and escape, though sometimes that’s far from the case. When it’s dark, however, we don’t know what might be out there, what might be after us. We fear that we won’t know if someone or something is lurking in the dark waiting for us until it’s too late.
Normally I don’t suffer from nyctophobia. Normally I can navigate my house in the dead of night with no fear whatsoever. When I read or watch scary stories, however, things are different. The terrors my mind absorbed that day, or even the day before, manifest in the form of nyctophobia. The nightly tasks that are usually so easy take great effort. One night I got up to use the bathroom across the hall. When I prepared to return to my bedroom, I found myself frozen in place. Intellectually I knew there was absolutely no reason for my fear, but this did little good. It took some time and multiple attempts to gather the fortitude to continue.
Sometime after that I had an even worse experience. I had read some terrifying tales the previous evening and awoke in the dead of the night. I opened my eyes and within seconds I realized that it was darker than usual. The night light in the hallway, which served to provide just enough light to allow nightly bathroom visits without the worry of stumbling over something, was out. I reached for my lamp and tried to turn it on. Nothing happened. I looked out my window and couldn’t see any lights on anywhere. I realized that there was a power outage. I reached for the flashlight I keep by my bed in case of emergencies and felt nothing but air. It was then that I remembered I had taken it to another room a couple of days ago and forgotten to put it back. There was a candle next to my bed, but there wasn’t a lighter or any matches with it, making it useless. I cursed my failure to make sure I was prepared for a situation like this.
I thought of the candles and lighter in the living room. I arose from my bed, but as I walked to the hall the fear began to seize me again. When I reached my doorway I froze as a result of the terror which had taken me in its grip. However, I soon decided that it was better to make the effort to go to the living room, where I could light a candle to banish the darkness, than to remain trapped by fear. Even knowing that, it was still hard for me to start moving. To make sure I didn’t knock over anything, I got down on my hands and knees.
As I slowly I made my way through the hallway I felt my heart begin to pound with terror. Normally the trip would have taken seconds, but with unfounded fear hindering my way it took me what I estimate to have been ten or fifteen minutes. I understood why darkness was one of the Ten Plagues of Egypt, though I also thought of the verse of Proverbs which spoke of comfort concerning terrors that arise at night and felt encouraged.
Finally I made it to the coffee table. Upon feeling the lighter I grabbed it and used it to produce a guiding flame. I rapidly found a candle, lit it, and set it down. I watched the candle flame illuminate the room and sighed in relief. I rested my head on folded hands and swore that never again would I allow myself to be in that situation.
Written by Raidra