Saturday, September 27, 2008

Last Man on Earth

The fog was thick this morning. It wasn't so bad when I left the house, but I got worse the further I drove. By the time I made it to the forest preserve I couldn't see more than 100 feet. It's strange how thick fog changes everything. The familiar landscape and landscapes are no longer visible. It's easy to get confused where I am. My next turn could be 50 feet ahead, or 5 miles. Heck, for all I know I'm not even on the same planet anymore. I could have been transported to some fog covered world, never to be heard from again. Maybe, like in Stephen King's story The Mist, some gateway has been opened and the normal deer and bunny rabbits that inhabit the woods are gone. Now, the woods are crawling with giant bugs and bizarre animals that want me for lunch.

Okay, maybe I'm being a little dramatic. You know what I mean though, right? Why is fog so creepy? It is used in so many movie and books to help enhance the feeling of dread. Sometimes it's a crutch, sometimes, as in The Mist, it's central to the story.

It has to be all about perception, or lack thereof. Think about it, you are used to the way the world looks: familiar landmarks, colors, a certain amount of light during the day, and now it is all changed. The light isn't right, it's more diffuse, the sky is gone. Sometimes your neighbors house isn't even visible anymore. Our mind goes into some kind of protection mode, our other senses get heightened, we notice that familiar sounds are just a little different due to the fog. Or, that it is just eerily quiet, when there should be other noises. The air smells, and feels weird; moist is the only word to explain it (duh). All these things combine together and make people edgy and nervous.

Then if you add in some animals running just at the edge of the fog, or people for that matter, you get creeped out more than you would. Nobody gets scared when a little rabbit hops by, but have that same bunny hop by just barely visible in the fog, and it is a different story. You may stop to try and figure what it is before going further. Now change the bunny to a big raccoon and you may just go back into your house.

Does this make sense? How many books or movies can you name that use fog to add to the creepiness? I can think of five off the top of my head.

Sorry for the weird post. Go about your day as if this never happened.


Florinda said...

I actually like fog. We get a lot of coastal fog here during the summer and fall. It's not very thick, so it doesn't have that mysterious quality you're talking about, but it does keep the temperature cooler and make my eastbound morning commute easier on my eyes :-).

Mike said...

Florinda: I don't mind fog, it's fun in a creepy way. :)

I can see why you would like it. Anything to keep things cool. And the sun out of your eyes. :)