“It was the eldritch scurrying of those fiend-born rats, always questing for new horrors, and determined to lead me on even unto those grinning caverns of earth’s centre where Nyarlathotep, the mad faceless god, howls blindly to the piping of two amorphous idiot flute-players.”
In the short story “The Rats in the Walls”, Lovecraft in his inimitable prose, describes the symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder. It starts with the narrator being bothered by the incessant sounds of phantom rats scratching within the walls of his ancestral home and it ends with him in a huge secret cellar crouched over the half-eaten body of his friend. T’was the rats done the eatin’, but the blood and meat smeared over the madman’s face and hands indicates otherwise.
Fortunately for most of us, anxiety isn’t a slippery slope into eldritch horrors outside of space and time. However, like many of Lovecraft’s monsters anxiety can lurk beyond the thresholds of our minds causing us to jump at shadows, to behave reactively.
Arguably, it may be actually better for us to hear those phantom rats. At least then we’ll know not follow them down the stairs into the darkness. At least then we’ll know to ignore them.
What do you do to detect the scratch scratch of little paws?