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  • Writer's pictureKaren Ruffles

Nothing to fear but....

As with many people who's business is horror, I don't tend to think about fear -to me, the monsters are simply a fact of life. They're just there. When woken at 3am by something jumping on the bed or crashing round the lounge I think 'oh, monsters' and go back to sleep. Each room has at least one torch to keep me in the light. The mirror in the bedroom faces the wall, tucked safely behind the wall for good measure. Though I live by the sea I won't go in it because that is one very big darkness.

Whitby at night

I have had my share of encounters, things seen and heard. Most are fleeting and remain unexplained. Some are tied to a particular place and if that's somewhere I revisit they clarify, solidify and become a new work. The next one to go up on my board is one such case.

When I lived in London, my garden backed on to St Patrick's cemetery - the oldest working catholic cemetery in the city. With the heads of the statues visible over the wall, it wasn't long before I went to explore. It's a beautiful place - big mature trees, some impressive sculpture and an overgrown corner inhabited by a family of foxes. It wasn't until I stepped back through the gates for the first time and felt a weight lift that I realised just how powerful a presence the place had. Visits became more frequent and less formal, hopping over the wall on occasion. Offerings were left - always something natural, food for the foxes or a treasure from my collection. Within a day a gift would appear in my garden - a bone, a feather and I have brought these north with me to Whitby.

bird skull by candlelight

I don't know what the guardian of that ground looked like but after a while I got to know when my presence wasn't welcome and I would leave immediately. I named it the borrower as it had the feel of something very much of it's environment. I pictured an elemental thing, building it's own form from the materials around it.

Hence always being careful, when I felt it's attention turned upon me, to leave before I got borrowed too....


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