Biographical Non-Fiction posted February 23, 2024

This work has reached the exceptional level
Not the typical horror story, but a horror for me.

Horror is Personal

by BethShelby

Horror means different things to different people. For me, when I was a child, horror was the embarrassment I felt when I accidently peed in my panties and was teased about it. Personal horror is the worst kind. Of course, that wasn’t my only problem.  I was overly sensitive in other ways as well. I couldn’t handle fairy tales where any creature died, be it a wolf or a demon.

Life on a farm seemed brutal. I was traumatized seeing headless chickens flopping around on the ground until they ceased moving, and blood dripping from my grandma’s hands as she picked them up. It was all part of making a chicken pot pie. Hog killing time was even more brutal with the panicked squeals of the hog as his throat was slit. Then for the next few weeks, our house smelled of dead meat as it was ground into sausage patties. For me food wouldn’t go down and if it did, it came right back up in disgusting puke.

I became a vegetarian long before it was cool. My classmates didn’t understand me, as they had been raised to believe you couldn’t survive without meat. On the other hand, I didn’t understand my classmates, who bragged of killing squirrels, deer and birds. The movies they chose were brutal western thrillers, where someone was forever dying at the hands of savages. They also liked monster films and war pictures.

By the time I was in my mid-teens, I believed there was something seriously wrong with me. I cringed each time I had to admit I didn’t eat meat.

“Are you serious? You really don’t eat meat? What on earth do you eat?  You have to have protein, or you’ll die? “You don’t like western movies? You don’t like vampire movies either? What do you watch?"

At that point, I had had enough. It seemed apparent I wasn’t cut out for life in the normal world where everyone seemed bloodthirsty. It was time to reinvent myself. I had to toughen up. Everyone else appeared to have no problem with horror.

Since I loved to read, I’d start with that. I needed a whole new book list. Somewhere down the line, I’d force myself to eat meat. At fifteen, I managed to keep down my first hamburger. I even managed to attend a funeral and actually touch a dead body. I was so proud of myself.

I picked the most notorious horror writers of all time, and went to see the goriest movies playing. In very little time, I found I could read the books or watch movies and feel nothing. Did I enjoy any of that? No, not particularly, but I was immune to the fear factor. It makes sense, because surgeons and morticians get to the point where cutting into a human body is just a profession. I’m sure sadists, who torture their victims and even behead them, have dehumanized them to the point they aren’t horrified by what they do.

I don’t care for horror for the sake of freaking me out because it doesn’t, and I find it boring. If it is part of a well-crafted story, I think it is fine. Then I can enjoy it for its contribution to the story.

Flash forward to the present day, as I said in the beginning, horror is personal. I do have a problem with seeing someone I care about suffer agony from some body destroying disease. I am affected by seeing the same thing happen to an animal I love. For me, heaven forbid I should get humiliated in public. I have tried to shield myself against that particular type of agony. That being said, what happened to me a little over a year ago did go a long way toward letting me know it is possible to survive the most traumatizing humiliation. Maybe by the time I reach my late nineties, I’ll just smile at my caregiver and let her take care of the problem.

It was the day after my son’s wedding to a lovely Korean bride. Her father, a Korean banker, her girlfriend and wealthy male companion from California, were planning to visit a few days. Don and his new bride wanted to take them to the Smoky Mountain National Park before they returned home. Her father and the other male Korean didn’t speak English. The actual honeymoon would wait until later.

Mika, Don’s bride, had a new Cadillac SUV, but they needed another decent vehicle for the trip, and they wanted my fairly new Toyota Camry. In order to get it, they insisted I go along. I resisted, but Don can be persuasive. They had rented a cabin with seven bedrooms, and a large great-room with a kitchen, dining and rec center combination.

The three Korean visitors plus Mika’s son, a teacher in Atlanta, were in the SUV. Don, Mika, my grandson, Cole, and I were in my car. Our vehicles traveled together with our car leading the way.

The wedding had lasted into the night, and I wasn’t used to eating late, nor was I used to various combinations of food. The following morning, my son came early to collect me and my car. Mika had made breakfast and insisted I eat. As yet, I hadn’t grown accustomed to Korean food. Having lived alone since my husband’s death, I had formed routines of daily toilet habits which this trip was interrupting.

We spent the day sightseeing and stopping at various restaurants for quick meals. The cabin was nice, but all of the bedrooms were at the top of a steep flight of stairs. Mika and her friend had brought Korean food to cook. Although it was very tasty, the dinner that evening consisted of nothing I’d tried before. I had a little of all of it, hoping my new daughter-in-law would not think I didn’t like her food.

I was unable to sleep on the hard bed, and each time, during the night, I tried the bathroom which I shared with my Korean neighbors, I found it occupied. We left early the following morning, after the breakfast of more Korean food. By this time, I realized, I needed a laxative. It had been three days, and my stomach felt tight. Nevertheless, our little group headed up the mountain to the pass at the top of the park. At the peak, we stopped, and everyone decided to get out and explore. I chose to stay in the car since most of the hiking would be up or down hill, and my knees tend to rebel with too much walking.

The group had barely left, when my stomach started to rumble. I’d promised not to leave the car, but it was apparent sitting still wasn’t working. There was a restroom about 100 ft down a steep hill. I knew I had to try to make it. I locked the car and got about 10 ft before I could go no further. People were all around, hopefully paying no attention. I stood still in front of a large tree, while my body proceeded to explode. It felt like I expelled at least 10lbs of poop. To me, this was horror at its worst. I wanted to melt into the ground, never to be seen again, and probably everyone around me had the same desire.

My pants were soaked with brown liquid, but I went down the hill as fast as my crippled legs would take me, leaving, who knows what, in my wake. When I got to the restroom, someone was just leaving the handicapped stall. Thank you God, for small favors. I went inside and stripped from the waist down. After about four or fiver flushes to get rid of what I could, I used the fresh water in the toilet to try to wash my pants and underwear.

In the middle of all this, I heard a frantic call from my daughter-in-law saying, “Mom, are you in here?” I couldn’t bring myself to answer, and she finally gave up and left.

Eventually, I realized I would have to surface at some point. So, I got up the courage to venture out, still stinking like something that should be trashed. I averted my eyes, pretending no one existed but me. Half way up the hill with my soaked clothes clinging, I learned I was about to be reported as a missing person. I wished with all my heart that I was still missing. Eight people had been searching quite a while.

For those of you who have stuck with my story up to to this point, you are either thoroughly disgusted, or you got a hearty laugh. For me, this experience topped the horror charts. Try putting yourself in my squishy shoes. Like I said, horror is a very personal thing.

Horror Writing Contest contest entry



I wonder if maybe I'm losing it, to dare post something so disgusting.
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