I have always been afraid of the dark. When I was little these fears were more tangible. They were a fear of actual things rather than just ideas. There was the skeletal cart driver that drove up and down my street. This skeleton would take me away if I looked out of my bedroom window and saw him. There was another skeleton, one that waited outside my door. Sometimes, when I woke at night and yelled for my parent, I was afraid that they would be skeletons too. There were the ghosts that howled outside when it was windy, and the bears that would come and bite my head off if it wasn't under the blankets. I still don't like to look outside at night, just in case the wolves are prowling around in the backyard. Of course there were also the requisite monsters under the bed. My dad would have to check for them before I would have even a chance of being able to get to sleep. I developed a set routine before bed, doing certain things in a specific order to make sure that I wouldn't need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Should this not work, I would have to yell for my mum to come with me, turning on the lights on the way down the hall. I'm braver now, I can turn on the lights by myself.

As I grew, these fears faded. There is always a lingering feeling of being watched from the shadows, and when I'm home alone I hate the creeping feeling of the darkness at my back as I turn off all the house lights on my way to bed. Strange creaking noises still cause me to freeze in fear and I keep the bathroom door closed for more reasons than privacy. If I can't see the bloody, axe-wielding clown walking up the hallway then it can't get me. It's as simple as that.

People wonder why I go to bed before twelve. It's because I hate being awake between the hours of twelve and one. As far as I am concerned, this is the witching hour, when the supernatural is at its most powerful.

I keep myself safe from the monsters by obeying seven simple rules:

When the shadows are dark enough, do not stand close to the bed, once in bed, make sure that no limbs hang over the edge.

Do not leave any draws or the wardrobe door open

The bedroom door must be closed at all times

When turning off the lights in the house, work backwards from where you need to be to make sure to spend as little time in the dark as possible. Do not turn around.

When twilight comes, close the blinds, else, avoid looking outside as much as possible.

When in bed, do not roll over and look at the room around you

If you need to go to the bathroom, turn on all the lights

If I break any of these rules, the monsters that lurk in the dark places will grab me and drag me away to the Land of Mim, the in-between place where the monsters live. It was not its own world but rather the space where the worlds were not and were the monsters to take me there; they would gorge themselves on my flesh and bones. I have managed to obey every one of these rules so far. I fear what would happen should I stay in the shadows for too long.

Someone who heard me talking about this would probably blame my fears on an over active imagination coupled with an exposure to Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings at an early age. Combine these with a recently developed obsession with H.P Lovecraft and all things relating to the Old Ones, it probably comes as no surprise that I have managed to come up with all these fears. While we're blaming pop culture, I should probably also bring up Dr Who as a main source of many of most of my paranoia. The Vashta Nerada and that child with the gas mask both kept me awake forever, and the Weeping Angels and the Silence have me constantly looking over my shoulder.

So there you have it. Possible reasons for my otherwise completely unaccountable phobia of the darkness and all the things that it holds, as well as a list of the ways to combat them.