What I Fear Most...by Jennifer Allison

Author Jennifer Allison is best known for her Young Adult series about the psychic investigator Gilda Joyce. However, the author has written a different type of paranormal tale for the anthology Fear: 13 Stories of Suspense and Horror. Her new story “The Perfects” combines several classic spine-tingling elements: creepy little kids, freaky dolls and a house of horror. So we had to know, what frightens Jennifer Allison?

When I was a child, I often awoke in the middle of the night and stared at various objects in my room. If you have any sort of imagination at all, this is a very bad idea. Naturally, my eyes played tricks on me, and I still remember my horror as I saw the shadowy figures of my plastic Barbie dolls appear to move in the darkness.

These days, I’m a mom with three kids, so it’s my job to reassure my young children that there are no phantoms or monsters lurking in the dark even as I write spooky stories to scare older kids. As a mother, my own fears focus on the very real dangers kids may face in a world plagued with environmental degradation, war, poverty, and Justin Bieber music videos.

However, one very simple, irrational fear does persist from my childhood—my fear of spiders. Yes, I realize that most of them are completely harmless; I see that their webs reveal impressive and even beautiful symmetry; and I understand they benefit us by munching on flies mosquitoes and other pests. There’s no excuse for my shallow view that they’re simply too ugly to be allowed in our house. 

My kids don’t share my fear of spiders: they enjoy catching and observing bugs of all kinds, and my six-year-old even wants a pet tarantula.

“No way,” I tell him.

“But why not?” he asks.

He has a point. Is the tarantula really so much uglier than our pet frogs or the short-lived pet mole crab my daughter brought back from the beach?

Perhaps it’s not really ugliness, but rather the stealthy intelligence with which spiders hide and pounce on their prey that scares me. Maybe it’s the contradiction between the lovely pattern of the spider’s web and its lethal purpose as a trap that freaks me out. Is my terror at the sight of a spider made greater because, deep down, I admire this creature? Perhaps.

Or maybe just those eight hairy legs, eight eyes, and fangs are just too ugly.

- Jennifer Allison

You can enjoy Jennifer Allison's short story "The Perfects" in the anthology Fear: 13 Stories of Suspense and Horror on shelves now!