Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Hound Outside The Door

A friend has provided the following story:

"When I was a kid, probably eight or nine, I woke up one night and heard a sound outside my door. I got up and walked toward the door, opening it slowly, and when it was just cracked open, less than an inch, I heard a sound like a large dog snorting. I slammed the door shut, and held it there, hearing the creature move around outside the door. Once I was sure it was gone, I went back to bed."

Commentary: A lage number of stories start with the teller explaining that they had just woken up before the events unfold. This is unfortunate, as these stories don't tell you much or provide anything particularly new. There are a number of different plausible explanations for these events, ranging from the person having a particularly lucid dream but never being awake to the person being partially awake and mobile and yet still dreaming, all of which explain the events perfectly well. It's worth noting that, after the horrifying event took place, the teller usually reports that they went right back to sleep, which I, for one, wouldn't do if I had just lived through a disturbing event, but would do if I had simply dreamt it.

And, for the record, I have had some very weird, creepy experiences that I perceieved ot be occuring immediately after I woke up, including seeing a spectral platoon of WWI-era dougboys, and seeing my girlfriend intone strange and unfamiliar words in a voice filled with deep menace. However, in each of those cases, during each of which I believed myself to be awake and have my wits about me, but I decided to do a bit of follow-up investigation after the fact and determined that, in each case, it wasn't a ghostly experience, but simply my sleepy brain doing its own magic. So, for anyone who wishes to know, yes I have had this kind of experience, it has happened to me.

While these "I just woke up" stories are themselves not particularly interesting, what is interesting is how important they can become to the teller. When you suggest a plausible explanation that is natural (such as that it was a dream) you can expect to be greeted with a very hostile reaction - usually having the person shout some variation on "I know what I saw!" or "I wasn't asleep!" Why is it that these types of events become so important to the people who perceived them? I don't know, but THAT is what is interesting about them to my mind.

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