The creaking door. The deep and silent woods. The unearthly howls in the dead of night.

All the elements that make the blood curdle and the skin crawl. But what truly makes a good scare? Is it the unoiled hinge on a basement door, or a serene forest setting by moonlight?

It’s the unknown. H.P. Lovecraft said it best. “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.

Once we allow our imagination to take hold and fill in those unknowns, now we have created the greatest scary stories ever told at any late night campfire. Monsters are born in the soft rustle of the trees and evil clowns reach out from beneath the bed.

Yes, I have a fear of clowns. Sue me.

But that does bring up a great point? Why do we fear tangible things? Should I be afraid of an axe-wielding psychopath? Yeah, that’s called healthy common sense. But clowns? Unless I’m watching an episode of Supernatural or the X-Files, clowns aren’t dangerous. So what about those big red noses and giant swimfin shoes conjures up feelings of sheer terror and panic?

I was never traumatized by a clown as a child, nor was anyone in my family kidnapped by carnival workers. My house wasn’t built on an ancient circus burial ground and I sure as hell haven’t resurrected Bozo.

Fears don’t have to be rational. But there is just something visceral that creeps down your veins and settles in that pit of your stomach and you can’t shake it.

So what do I do? I write about it. I channel it and tame it and make it work for me.

Just don’t ask me to go to the circus with you.