A Dance With The Red Death
(Photo: Horror Buzz)

We don’t need Halloween as a fear factor this year. There’s plenty of scary stuff out there already, and what makes it the scariest of all is the fact that the dangers are real.

We’ve been wearing the most frightening masks possible for nearly eight months now – masks to help protect us and others from a deadly virus that lasciviously lurks around every corner, patiently waiting to slither stealthily into our breathing spaces, infuse and infect our lungs, invade and conquer our immune system, and elevate and exalt the Grim Reaper to the status of godhood, all the while aided and abetted by government officials who think they know more than the very scientists they hired to warn us about such things.

 Scared yet? Just wait.

On top of that, we’ve been force-fed a last-minute new Supreme Court Justice – one that is likely to join the ranks of those who support a government-based morality, covertly taking away choices and support related to healthcare, as well as setting the progress toward gender equality and other hard fought rights gained in the past fifty years back on its heels.

 Scared yet? Just wait.

As if that weren’t enough, a critical Presidential election looms large, the results of which could bring us closer to the brink of despotism or give us a lifeline back to respected world leadership.

Scared yet? Just wait.

In my teens and early twenties there was a rash of attention given to the study of the end of the world as laid out in the Bible. Books like Hal Lindsay’s The Late Great Planet Earth flew off the shelves. For the most part, Christianity was telling the world to get ready. The end was near.

The elevator pitch was that Jesus would return to take the faithful with him (the Rapture), that there would be seven years of misery (the Tribulation) under the power of a Satanic leader called the “Antichrist”. After seven years the Antichrist would be defeated, Satan would be bound and thrown into Hell, and there would be a thousand years of peace under Jesus’ reign over planet Earth.

Lately I’ve been seeing Facebook posts embracing those same beliefs and out-and-out pointing a finger toward Donald Trump as the Antichrist. Believe what you will about what the Bible says about the end of days. There’s a legion of interpretations of the related scriptures. In the end, no one knows for certain how, when, or even IF Earth will meet its demise. And for my money DT isn’t smart enough to be THE Antichrist.

Scared yet? Just wait.

While we’re at it, let’s not forget the plot to kidnap and kill Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer by domestic terrorists emboldened by the rise of misogynistic, racist, violent, far-right extremism that’s been breeding and teeming at warp speed over the past four years in an environment likened to a Petrie dish for brutality that’s gone essentially unchecked and sometimes encouraged under the current administration.

Scared yet? Just wait.

So we need Halloween this year more than ever, if only as a diversion. I don’t know how communities and parents will handle it. Some will ban it. Some will trade Trick-or-Treating for Trunk-or-Treating. Some will host private parties. Some will wear masks over masks while others wear masks under masks and still others continue to stubbornly refuse to wear a mask at all. And for many, a stake was driven through the heart of social distancing months ago.

Still, the least scary thing going ‘round this year will be Halloween. I’m trying to decide what costume I’ll wear this year. Something akin to The Masque of the Red Death seems apropos.

Scared yet? Just wait.

(Originally published in Oxford, Mississippi’s The Local Voice. Slightly edited for TREMG.) http://www.thelocalvoice.net/oxford/the-view-from-the-balcony-scared-yet-just-wait/

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