On our way home from a hockey tournament lately, a friend of mine mentioned an irrational notion that he had: he said that for some strange reason whenever he travels and is at a large, international airport, that somehow, he’ll run into his ex-wife. He said he has no idea if she travels internationally, but it concerns him, nonetheless.
Several weeks later, I thought about my many irrational thoughts and I, too, have an eccentric fear, borne of ignorance: I’m scared shitless of the Amish undead.
To make sense of this, we need to travel back in time. In late 1999, when I was applying for the Springfield Fire Department, it was necessary for me to fly out here for the interview process. Up until that point, I’d only lived in California and Alaska, so I knew nothing about life in the Midwest, much less that there was a large contingent of Amish living in Missouri. So I flew out, staying up in Northeast Missouri at the ex-in-laws place which happened to be a Christmas tree farm surrounded by Amish neighbors. I found their stares and glares unnerving, not taking into account that I was the outsider, I was the curious one.
My lodgings for the trip consisted of sleeping in the enclosed porch area of a log cabin, with a good and full view of the perfectly abandoned house on the property. This abandoned red dwelling had a fruit cellar, another regional oddity that, while described as “quaint” by many, really came across as a creepy portal to all things terrifying. After enjoying a local delicacy billed as a “Pig-Hip Sammich” (technically, a fried pork tenderloin on white bread) at the local bar/pool hall/gatherin’ place, my then-mother in-law informed me that there was a storm rolling in, and we’d best be heading back to the farm.
I’m from California. We did not have real lightning and thunderstorms on the Central Coast. Forked lightning was a phenomena best reserved for horror flicks with disemboweled zombies, or, apparently, Missouri in the month of May. We headed down the gravel roads and I took in all the homes of the Amish that were merely outlined by flashes of lightning; this made me really second-guess the wisdom of spending the night out here. Let’s face it: I was coming dangerously close to realizing what a damn pansy I really am.
And that’s when it got somewhat hairy. After being left to my own devices on the enclosed porch, my mind began to cast near and far for reasons why with each thunderous clap that shook the cabin, I came close to pissing myself. This was nothing other than science in motion. I lay on the makeshift bed, family dog locked in a head clamp, chastising myself for being scared of weather. It was not lost on me in the least that I’d flown here to apply for a job where I was supposed demonstrate how NOT to be such a candy-ass. But fear and imagination are funny bedfellows, and if you’re unhinged like I am to start with, no good can come of what I later learned is referred to as “a real toad-strangler” of a storm.
Nerves on edge, dog growling from being held in a death-lock, it hit me: I was positively sure that with the very next flash of lightning, I’d see in the porch window, pitchfork in hand, an Amish Zombie. I could’ve sworn that, as the abandoned house was lit up, I saw movements near the damn fruit cellar. It was upon me. I was the only one who could see that the fruit cellar was the portal through which the Amish Undead travel, looking to feast on the brains of chicken-shit Californians who dare trod in their sphere. Only a couple of ghouls at first, but as soon as they realized I was in that porch area, they’d moan out to one another, and next thing you know, every window pane would be filled with a ghoulish, bearded harvester of souls. I had no idea that storms could last as long as they do out here.
Come morning, with no sleep to claim and one very pissed-off dog, I gazed in puffy-eyed disbelief at the house across the way, amazed that I’d made it though the night. I vowed to do my best to come up with a plan to annihilate this plague of the Amish Undead. Little did I know that within a year, that abandoned red house would become my first residence in the state of Missouri.
I lasted there less than a month.