The Shadows That Melt the Flesh

For as long as I can remember, I have been afraid of the dark. When I was young my sister and I used to play games of “cops and robbers”. Always playing the most un-fun role of “cop” I would search through the dark gloominess of our cellar. One time, I arrived at one corner of the cellar when suddenly a bookshelf was pushed behind me, literally cornering me in. Being around 5 or 6 years of age, I simply sat down and cried. Of course, I did many other things to my sister just as terrible (remind me to tell you about the time I hid in her closet for 30 minutes and then scared her so much that she’s as scared of monsters in the closet as much as Boo was in the beginning of Monster’s Inc….of course, I just told you the story. Never mind).

Since that experience I have always had to walk away from the darkness backward, hastily switching the lights on as I went from hallway to bathroom and from hallway to bedroom. I have always hated that the switch to the hallway light was halfway down the hallway. Away from my room. I always ran away from the darkness, hurriedly closing the door behind me. Even now, the hubs is the one that has to check the dark corners and looks behind doors for me (while I’m quivering under the covers). That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, a bad case of acute achluophobia. Some people would say that it’s irrational.

But not the Doctor. The brilliant, amazing Doctor (or Steven Moffat – take your pick) has taken my “supposed” irrational fear and turned it into a horrible frightful no good terribly scary reality. As said by the Doctor:
The Doctor: Almost every species in the Universe has an irrational fear of the dark. But they’re wrong. ‘Cause it’s not irrational. It’s Vashta Nerada.

So, now that my fear of the dark is rational and real, I have all the more reason to be so much more frantic and frightened. How wonderful! I always carry a chicken leg – just in case I need to test the darkness. And just in case I’m not petrified enough, there’s more.
The Doctor: That’s not darkness down those tunnels….It’s a swarm. A man-eating swarm. The piranhas of the air. The Vashta Nerada. Literally, “the shadows that melt the flesh”. Most planets have them but usually in small clusters….
Donna: What d’you mean, most planets? Not Earth?
The Doctor: Oh yeah….You can see them sometimes if you look. The dust in sunbeams.
Donna: If they were on Earth, we’d know.
The Doctor: Nah. Normally they live on roadkill. But sometimes people go missing. Not everyone comes back out of the dark.
2There it is! Exactly why I have a completely rational fear of being eaten alive by invisible man(or roadkill)-eating shadows. And I’ve always been a little freaked out by that weird dust in the sunbeams. I feel so much less ridiculous now.

Doctor Who (BBC)
Season 4, Episode 9


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