cenobyte answers #5

As part of the ask cenobyte experiment, Brielle asks:

I know the answer that pops into your head when I ask this, as it does every mother. But put that aside for a second and really think beyond your kids and family because that’s a given. Let say…What is your greatest fear? Or, if you’d rather What have you always feared. Yeah that one is better I think.

I think fears, like loose teeth, sore shins, and acne, come and go. I think they change. They *must* change. That being said, the easy answer is clowns. I have ALWAYS hated clowns with the burning rage of a thousand angry suns. From my earliest memory of the horrible things, with their rancid dead baby breath and their cracked, brown claws and rows upon rows of jagged teeth, I have always, *always* hated clowns. The genesis for that hatred is a perfectly natural and wholesome fear that they will, someday, as they are wont to do, manage to make it in to my house and destroy everything with their green acid saliva and toxic sweat. And when they’re finished burning holes in floors and doors and windows, they will fold themselves up into the shadows behind things and beneath things, and they will lay in wait for a succulent piece of warm flesh, or a particularly vibrant soul, to feast upon.

Also: china dolls. Whoever came up with these monstrosities clearly not only hated children, but also must have had a distinct and unobstructed desire to create mass distress. Who wants a horrid little object with matted human hair and staring, hollow glass eyes boring into them? Do you know how they make china dolls? No? Well. Let me educate you: first, they find a sad, neglected child. Sad, neglected children were a dime a dozen when they started making china dolls. First, they capture the child’s soul in a little glass apothecary jar that can be used only once per soul. The souls of sad, neglected children are difficult to see, but dollmakers can always tell; sometimes they need a piece of equipment similar to a jeweler’s glass, but most dollmakers are born with the ability to see the souls of children. So the dollmaker finds a child, and extracts its soul using the kind of tool pictured here:

Once the dollmaker extracts the child’s soul, he stores it for quite some time, neglected on a shadowy, cobwebbed shelf. Freshly harvested souls are not often used in dollmaking, as they tend to still have some kind of hope or happiness encased in them.

The body of the doll is made from the childrens’ hair and dessicated bits of their tongues and liver. When the dollmaker makes the porcelain, he uses the ashes and pulverised remains of their soft little bones to grind in with the clay. Those little glass eyes are made by melting down the soul jar and pouring the molten glass into little molds. This is how the soul is captured in horrid glass eyes. This is why china dolls stare at you incessantly. This is why they rise from their places of slumber in the night, and crawl into bed with you; it’s why they follow you around and flop on the couch when you’re folding laundry. Because the souls of children are trapped inside each and every one. They’re trying to take your soul, stealing it in your breath (sometimes they blame this activity on cats). They don’t stop, either, because when you capture a child’s soul in the pit of its misery, it will never, ever stop hunting.

You can’t stop a clown or a china doll, I always say.

There is also a certain reticence to accept success that lingers oddly around me.

In going through the things that people are supposed to fear, I think of things like: death, which does not scare me (unless it is death by clown or china doll); loss, which does not scare me (unless it is because clowns or china dolls have caused the loss); lingering illness, which unsettles me somewhat but does not cause me fear (unless it is the lingering illness caused by fetid clown spoor and the bacterial mileu that thrives in china doll hair and eyes); being alone, which does not scare me (unless I am alone with clowns or china dolls); failure, which does not give me fear as failure is necessary (unless it is the failure to keep clowns and china dolls away from me and my family)….

I suppose the greatest fear I have (other than clowns and china dolls, which fears have been addressed above) is, and this is going to sound barmy, nuclear annihilation. At the age of six, I began hiding under the couch or the coffee table, afraid that people in the world would lose their sense and start pushing big red buttons all willy-nilly, setting off a chain reaction of nuclear missiles trained on every populated area of the world. I had visions of skin melting from bodies, of hair falling out in great, matted clumps, of losing teeth and fingernails. Children would be born with no faces, after a generation of stillbirths and spontaneous abortions. There would be no uncontaminated soil in which to grow food, and eventually, everyone would die of radiation sickness, which would have a specific name, possibly called after the doctor or researcher who tried for an entire lifetime to find a cure for it, but who failed because she could not keep her eyelashes from falling into her petri dishes. I have always been afraid of the decisions other people make on my behalf, to a certain point. Coming from such a place, is it any wonder I do not place a whole lot of faith in elected leaders?

cenobyte is a writer, editor, blogger, and super genius from Saskatchewan, Canada.


  1. I never thought I’d say this, but you should perhaps not enter my bedroom. At least, not without giving me warning so I can hide any and all china dolls (or clowns) in the closet.

  2. Horrid, horrid things.

    I’d be okay with a blindfold. And possibly a ball gag. Maybe even a desensitisation hood…erm…probably I’ve said too much.

  3. Oh. My. Dear. Lord.
    I think we have been conjoined at one time in space. That or maybe someone left a vial of fear juice by the water treatment plant say…30 years ago..we kinda both drank some. At the same time. In the same room.
    Because all three fears you describe (so aptly) are the same fears I have. Clowns are just creepy old pedo’s in drag and I have a real fear of dolls..china or other creepy old ones from a movie that I was never supposed to see. But when one’s parents are staying up late in the hotel room and we are on a ski trip…and we are supposed to roll over and not let our 5 year old eyes look to the tv but we DO and then it scars us for life…well that explains why I have this fear. The movie was about some doll..with some necklace with powers..and the doll..yadda yadda bathtub..yadda yadda, oven..yadda, knife…fanges. Well you get the drift. We *were* in the Banff Springs Hotel which could add a haunted element, but I twas 5. Who knows about such things at 5?

    And the bombs are just WAY to close to home for me. Red buttons, skinless faces, dead babies…then some dumb ass like Bush gets in and those fears are reborn all over again. Yes you have quite exquisitely described my fears.

    Care for a glass of water? Me neither.

    thanks for writing this…I think my current fear of Nazi Zombies is quickly dissolving. Whew.

  4. “(the clowns) will fold themselves up into the shadows behind things and beneath things”

    Oh, thank you very much.

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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