The Fear
by Robert Frost (1915)

A lantern light from deeper in the barn
Shone on a man and woman in the door
And threw their lurching shadows on a house
Near by, all dark in every glossy window.
A horse's hoof pawed once the hollow floor,
And the back of the gig they stood beside
Moved in a little. The man grasped a wheel,
The woman spoke out sharply, "Whoa, stand still!"
"I saw it just as plain as a white plate,"
She said, "as the light on the dashboard ran
Along the bushes at the roadside--a man's face.
You must have seen it too."
"I didn't see it.
Are you sure----"
"Yes, I'm sure!"
"--it was a face?"
"Joel, I'll have to look. I can't go in,
I can't, and leave a thing like that unsettled.
Doors locked and curtains drawn will make no difference.
I always have felt strange when we came home
To the dark house after so long an absence,
And the key rattled loudly into place
Seemed to warn someone to be getting out
At one door as we entered at another.
What if I'm right, and someone all the time--
Don't hold my arm!"
"I say it's someone passing."
"You speak as if this were a travelled road.
You forget where we are. What is beyond
That he'd be going to or coming from
At such an hour of night, and on foot too.
What was he standing still for in the bushes?"
"It's not so very late--it's only dark.
There's more in it than you're inclined to say.
Did he look like----?"
"He looked like anyone.
I'll never rest to-night unless I know.
Give me the lantern."
"You don't want the lantern."
She pushed past him and got it for herself.
"You're not to come," she said. "This is my business.
If the time's come to face it, I'm the one
To put it the right way. He'd never dare--
Listen! He kicked a stone. Hear that, hear that!
He's coming towards us. Joel, go in--please.
Hark!--I don't hear him now. But please go in."
"In the first place you can't make me believe it's----"
"It is--or someone else he's sent to watch.
And now's the time to have it out with him
While we know definitely where he is.
Let him get off and he'll be everywhere
Around us, looking out of trees and bushes
Till I sha'n't dare to set a foot outdoors.
And I can't stand it. Joel, let me go!"
"But it's nonsense to think he'd care enough."
"You mean you couldn't understand his caring.
Oh, but you see he hadn't had enough--
Joel, I won't--I won't--I promise you.
We mustn't say hard things. You mustn't either."
"I'll be the one, if anybody goes!
But you give him the advantage with this light.
What couldn't he do to us standing here!
And if to see was what he wanted, why
He has seen all there was to see and gone."
He appeared to forget to keep his hold,
But advanced with her as she crossed the grass.
"What do you want?" she cried to all the dark.
She stretched up tall to overlook the light
That hung in both hands hot against her skirt.
"There's no one; so you're wrong," he said.
"There is.--
What do you want?" she cried, and then herself
Was startled when an answer really came.
"Nothing." It came from well along the road.
She reached a hand to Joel for support:
The smell of scorching woollen made her faint.
"What are you doing round this house at night?"
"Nothing." A pause: there seemed no more to say.
And then the voice again: "You seem afraid.
I saw by the way you whipped up the horse.
I'll just come forward in the lantern light
And let you see."
"Yes, do.--Joel, go back!"
She stood her ground against the noisy steps
That came on, but her body rocked a little.
"You see," the voice said.
"Oh." She looked and looked.
"You don't see--I've a child here by the hand."
"What's a child doing at this time of night----?"
"Out walking. Every child should have the memory
Of at least one long-after-bedtime walk.
What, son?"
"Then I should think you'd try to find
Somewhere to walk----"
"The highway as it happens--
We're stopping for the fortnight down at Dean's."
"But if that's all--Joel--you realize--
You won't think anything. You understand?
You understand that we have to be careful.
This is a very, very lonely place.
Joel!" She spoke as if she couldn't turn.
The swinging lantern lengthened to the ground,
It touched, it struck it, clattered and went out.

The Fear is a term used to refer to specific paranoid feelings that set in at some time in most people's lives. The Fear is often experienced under the influence of psychoactive drugs. Other scenarios in which you may encounter the fear include being home alone, walking through woodland in pitch blackness, whilst waiting for any kind of test or exam and whilst waiting for the results of said test or exam.

The Blair Witch Project portrayed woodland fear perfectly, as anyone who has been alone in a dark forest will testify. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas tells of a drug induced paranoia of such epic proportions it is enough to put anyone off substance abuse for life.

It's that special kind of sweat - the sort that prickles its way out of your back, and the way everything is ten times louder and all the shadows are moving that set The Fear apart from just plain fear.

The fear can easily be avoided however, by taking everything in moderation, and trying not to be alone too much. Oh, and don't take horror films too seriously.

The car skidded on the gravel and scraped the asphalt. We got out and I followed Joey into the house. Though I knew most of the people, they didn’t know me. That’s how it is with most of my High School acquaintances, they're usually too fucked up to remember me. Some of them were already drunk. Others, worse. There was a fat guy that everyone called Buddha, but I found that rather insulting to my knowledge of Buddhism. He wasn’t very bright, he chain smoked cloves, and in between drags he would cough up chunks of his lungs, literally. This Buddha made a telephone call and then asked Joey if we could go pick up some weed over in Hacienda. Joey said sure.

We met up with this dealer at his house and after twenty minutes or so Buddha came waddling back to the car. He seemed happy with his purchase, but I really couldn’t care less. Something seemed off about this night. Something was in the air, like I was on the brink of an epiphany. We rolled up to the house and made our way back inside. People seemed drunker, but I tried not to notice. Back into Buddha’s room, we sat in a circle. He packed a bowl of this pot, which smelled terrible. Elliott Smith was there in my mind saying "One hit wouldn’t matter a bit." I guess I didn’t understand the song.

Someone handed me the bottle of Captain Morgans. After a few swigs of that I felt a buzz, so I decided to take a walk and see how everyone else was. Most of the smokers in the circle had already wandered away and they were throughout the house, the geeks watching Anime, the "Punks" taking shots in the kitchen. The only adult there started talking to me about music in the seventies, which I know a good deal about. This woman was in her late forties and she was stuttering over every word she said. "This is what drugs do to you." I thought to myself. Frightening.

I got away from her but was confronted by a girl I knew from high school. She was holding the Captain Morgans, and was obviously drunk. She said something like "Hi, I'm Jenna. I remember you. You're Niko. You didn’t introduce yourself earlier. I thought it was kind of high and mighty of you to assume that people just remember your name." Then she handed me the bottle. I explained that since I remembered her name and she didn’t introduce herself, I just assumed she remembered mine. I took the bottle with me to the back porch.

There were about seven people out back, smoking cigarettes and passing around a pipe. My friend Kyle was there, his pupils blown to shit. I asked him what he was doing this fine day, and he told me he had taken about three eighths of mushrooms throughout the day and he had been downing vodka as well. I waved my hand in front of his face and he jumped about three feet in the air, yelling gibberish. I took the vodka away from him, and told him to chill the fuck out. He went back inside with kind of an awkward march.

I kept drinking, and by this time it was only Buddha and me. He handed me the pipe with a smile and said, "Can I tempt you, my good friend?" I replied, "I've only just met you tonight, but why not?" The taste of pot was a taste I had grown to love and hate. I handed it back to him, grabbed the booze, and we went back inside. Right when I walked into the living room, I set the bottle down. People were stumbling over each other and laughing hysterically, someone was vomiting into the sink, Several people had passed out on the couch, and moaning was coming from under the locked door of a bedroom where Kyle was with his girl. Sex on Psychedelics was something I would never understand. Then something hit me.

It was something Hunter S. Thompson had written in 1972. He was on the Campaign Trail in one of the eastern states, trying to explain parts of his political philosophy to an intern on George McGovern's tour bus. The intern was nodding and apparently listening to him, but then it hit. Hunter realized this kid had no idea what the fuck he was talking about. The look in his eyes was a look of fear, not interest. This kid was mortified of politics and of everyone on the goddamn bus. It was then that Hunter realized the problem with modern youth. They were in mortal fear of everything. This American Dream had bored into the minds of the youth and frozen them in fear, quite understandably so. And I believe it’s only gotten thousands of times worse since then.

Seeing these drunken kids, some as young as 14, really got me thinking. Thinking about how I've been letting the fear run my life, choose my friends, and make my decisions. They really do need an altered reality to feel comfortable, and I find that disturbing. This American Dream has been forced into me and into every other youth through the media, our parents, this unbelievably fucked up culture we've grown accustomed to, and everything we've ever known. We've been programmed to consume, to live up to the Prom King and Queen, to get a good job and have a high salary. And for what? So we die wealthy and at the top of this Hierarchy? I don’t want that.

I may be naive, but at least I'm trying to understand what runs this fear. I'm terrified of what's going to happen to this world in my lifetime alone, but I'm looking foreword to it so I can laugh myself to death at our self destruction. A thirteen year old little league player beating a fifteen year old snack bar attendant to death with a bat just because he razzed him about the game. A teenager tied to a fence and beaten to death for being gay. A girl with a speech impediment beaten and forced to blow 4 middle school boys in front of half the school, only to have the principal not call the police and talk the parents out of it as well. A twelve year old overdosing on ecstasy and LSD at school. What the fuck is happening? Can anyone tell me this won’t just get worse and worse? Are the parents just assuming school and television are teaching children everything they need to know?

It’s been weeks since that night, and I've been sober ever since. I can’t stand the idea of altering a reality that’s already fucked up enough as it is. An easy escape is not what I'm looking for.

A society of fear and loathing is what we've become.
Who can tell me it isn’t too late already?

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