I was nine or ten when my father rented a videocasette of the 1953 film adaptation of H. G. Wells’s War of the Worlds, and it inspired in me a terror of extraterrestrial observation that abides to this day. It was the scene in the farmhouse that did me in; that baleful trifurcated eye peering in through the window; the actual alien glimped only briefly and in snatches. My fear of alien observation came just in time for the wave of abduction stories that rippled through the fabric of pop culture in the early ’90s. Soon the terrible eyes of the Grey Alien were everywhere. Visceral jolts of adrenaline and dread every time I sighted the face. So easy to imagine it, them, looking through my bedroom window, watching me. The desperate narratives invented in the wee hours (maybe the woven fibers of my bedsheets would obscure their peering sensors) but knowing deep inside the core of my terror that this was all self-deception. They could see me, and wanted to. Hours of sleep lost nightly. Desperate for release from the fear. Coming to my mother for help; we prayed and asked Jesus to protect me. Jesus narratives did not intersect with alien narratives in a way that made intuitive sense to me, and thus brought no relief. Ultimately respite came only with age, but the truth is that even now I try not to think about that blackly unfathomable alien gaze, because it still makes me shiver, and probably always will.

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