Honey, I'm hoooooome!What you are about to read is totally REAL and creepier than a Hollywood horror movie. Welcome to Scary Story Week on The Stir ...
For most of us, there is a critical moment in our childhood that changes the way we think about life. I'm talking about the day we come to discover life isn't all hunky dory, bowl of cherries and realize that there is a scary dark underbelly in this world. And once we know that dark place is there, we never look at anything the same. Ever.
For me, this revelatory moment was closely tied to a hamster named Spaz (yes, Spaz). A pet that started out as a soft, fuzzy little friend soon revealed to me a world so horrifyingly unfathomable that even death could not save us from its horrors.
WARNING: THIS STORY IS NOT INTENDED FOR THE FAINT OF HEART (or anyone who really loves hamsters).
Spaz lived a good life with us, shimmying the tube to his hamster-sized loft apartment day after day and sliding back down to run his wheel all hours of the night. He explored every nook of my parents' house in his exercise ball, ran berserk through my dollhouse (something I could only dream of doing), and rested fat and happy each morning, his cheeks full of delicious hamster pellets.
I had Spaz a good three years before it became clear that the end was near, and I started to worry his time would come soon. The once-fuzzy strawberry blonde gerbil ultimately lost every hair on his body save for a long, wild tuft on his forehead. And as if a bald and wrinkly hamster wasn't awful enough, he started to develop open wounds all over his body. They would scab over but the ones on his belly remained open and oozing and turned a greenish color due to the sawdust that lined his cage -- or due to gangrene, not sure.
In a moment of sheer grace, my friend's hamster died a painless, sudden death when she accidentally dropped his cage door on his neck. However, we were not so lucky in our house of horrors. Spaz wasn't going anywhere. He just kept living and living and living far beyond the normal life cycle of the common hamster until my dad decided to intervene. It was only the right thing to do ...
So while I bawled my eyes out in my room (yes, over my old, bald, scabby pet that was covered in open sores), my dad created a mini hamster death chamber out of a shoe box, to which he hooked up the gas tank from the barbecue. He gassed little Spaz for a good long time, so long, in fact, that he emptied the entire tank. He wanted to be sure it did the trick. Sadly, it wasn't enough. Spaz sucked in that tank of propane like it was a brand new lease on life.
When my dad slowly opened up the lid to the would-be tiny coffin, Spaz scared the bejesus out of him by wriggling in his scary-supernatural glory. At that point, my dad had no choice but to resort to a stick and a blunt but compassionate blow to the head. Suffer no more, hamster friend. It's for your own good.
Of course, throughout this whole ordeal, my older brother kept coming to my bedroom with the trauma-inducing play-by-play, and when I heard about the stick, I began wailing for my dear pet. My mom was also hiding in another room, yelling that she didn't want any part of this hamster euthanasia nightmare. Clearly, our entire family had passed over into the dark side.
In any case, the stick did the trick, and my dad buried Spaz in his shoebox coffin about three feet down in our flower garden. I sobbed into my dinner that night and wept for my long lost friend and his unfortunate death. Spaz was gone.
Or so we thought ...
The next morning, garbage day, my brother headed out with the kitchen trash. Around the corner to the side of the house where the garbage cans were kept, a waking nightmare awaited. There covered in scabs and sores and wrinkles and now a dusting of dirt from his shallow grave stood Spaz. Alive. As if the brown, dry earth had only infused him with all the undead power of a hamster zombie, he was alive in the worst way possible -- alive after having crossed over and returned from dead!
My brother, spooked and horrified as all hell, picked up Spaz and dropped him in with the kitchen trash and left him for the garbage man. Within our family, legend has it that Spaz is still alive and well at the city dump to this day. I'm pretty sure he's dragging a stump leg and wearing a hook paw and an eye patch, too, but he's not the only one who was forever changed this day more than three decades ago. When you meet anyone in my family, if you look closely enough into our faces, you'll see the dark clouds pass across our eyes, the same eyes that witnessed something no human beings should ever have to see.
Do you have a personal Pet Sematary story?
Photo via SantaRosa OLD SKOOL/Flickr
Yesterday's Scary Story: My 5-Year-Old Daughter Is Psychic & It Freaks Me Out
Tomorrow's Scary Story: A Ghostly Boy Appeared to Me in the Night