Forgive me if I’m mixing details in my vague memory of fine literature.
Whenever I dwell on “scary” I am taken to a late night, reading Orwell’s 1984. I’m in that heartstopping moment when the protagonist is taken to “room 101” where people face their worst fear, knowing it can stop if they pledge allegiance. For Winston (thank you, Wikipedi*a) his worst fear is rats and the cage is slowly raised to his face and the gate is snapped open. The rats rush for the “soft tissue” of the eyes. I’ve never been afraid of rats, but I easily could have been after experiencing that godawful, stomach churning image.
I remember little else from the book, except the rats and the pervading sense of fear for those who thought out of line.
That book terrified me. I remember lying away trying to decide what my worst fear was. Being burned alive? Being left behind? Going to hell? Being beaten to a bloody pulp? I couldn’t decide. I just didn’t know what would be in room 101 if I ever had to face it. And this drove me to a mad obsession.
But I now realize that what scared me the most was thinking that someone else knew my worst fear and could orchestrate the perfect trigger when I, myself, was clueless as to what might be in that room.