Lately I seem to be running into a lot of unexpected pictures or sounds on the Web. I've got a twitch now. It's a direct result of being scared shitless by slow loading, horrible MIDI reproductions of songs someone thought would be the perfect soundtrack to his/her Web site. They're always louder than hell when they finally load and start blaring Wind Beneath My Wings or Theme from Star Wars through my speakers.
Then there are the assholes who try to scare you on purpose. You've all seen the type of Shockwave files they place on their sites. The ones that ask you to turn up your speakers and study a photo to find some hidden image. Then suddenly a photo of Bea Arthur (or something equally scary) pops up and starts screaming at you.
I fell for it once. It happened at work and my shreik sounded like Half-Pint from Little House on the Praire had just seen Pa get run over by his own buggy. It took some time to live that one down. It seems the only way to truly put this sort of thing behind you is to find someone else as dumb as you are and scare them with the file.
I got my Mom.
Not long after my office scare I sat her down in front my computer and watched as she studied the monitor for an image of a ghost. When the scary face and loud scream exploded in front of her I saw both her arms shoot up and shake in the air as her face strained and contorted with pure adrenaline enhanced fear.
For a moment, I was pretty sure I had killed her.
As soon as I was sure she wasn't going to slump over in my desk chair I started laughing. I was laughing because: 1) It was funny. 2) I had evidence I wasn't the only sucker left in the world. 3) I was nervous because I knew my mother was going to kill me right there in my own den.
We both survived. Unfortunately, now I'm suspicious of anything on the Web that might try to scare me. I like to go to the ghost hunter sites and look at video footage of actual ghosts and other such unbelievable crud. A few of these sites think it's fun to scare their visitors. After all, if they're interested in ghosts they must like being scare shitless.
I already have a hard enough time making it out of the basement and upstairs into bed with all the lights out. The last thing I need is some jerk's pop-up image of a bloody, dead babydoll flashing around in my head before I try to go to sleep.
My Mom sent me an email the other day with a link to one of these files. The email told me to study the photos closely. The link ended in .swf and my Mom wrote a warning that I shouldn't open the file around kids (duh). So I turned down the speakers and I clicked on the link. I walked ten feet away from my computer's monitor. I looked at the monitor through my fingers trying to shield myself from whatever horror I knew was going to pop-up at me. Sure enough, after waiting about 30 seconds the photos turned to some horrifying face and I could barely hear a scream coming from my speakers.
At her age, I don't think it's wise for my Mom to try to scare her more vengeful minded children.