They say that seeing is believing, but there are a great many things that we cannot directly see, yet we would be fools to say we do not believe in; gravity, air, love, just to name a few. We do not see these things, but we know that they are there, because what we do see are the effects they have on us and the people around us. Gravity makes us fall, but you do not actually see it push anyone over; air lets us breathe, but we only know it’s there when a breeze blows by; love connects us and makes us do stupid things, but many people need to hear it and feel it to believe that it’s true.
Similarly, there are a great many things that few or no people have ever seen, and which even fewer would be willing to admit they truly believe in, yet the effects they have on us can be seen the world over. Vampires, goblins, werewolves, zombies—creatures of the supposed imagination; legends living in nothing more than the stories they come from. Yet in most of us there is an innate feeling—a sneaking suspicion that out there, somewhere, we don’t know where, these legends exist in the realm of reality.
When there’s a bump in the night, or a creak in the hall, or a scratch on the window, or a shadow on the ceiling, does the mind immediately ignore it as the simple settling of an aging house, or an annoying branch that needs trimming, or the shadow of a curtain blowing in the breezy moonlight? Or, is that simply what it’s trying to convince itself, after instinctively jumping to the conclusion—if even for a fleeting moment—that something, human or otherwise, has come to take its life away?
Or in the movies, as you watch a monster, or ghoul, or supernatural serial killer terrorize a group of unsuspecting victims, do you not ever find yourself looking around, to make sure said being is not there among you? Do you not ever check to make sure—when you get home—that the doors are especially locked tight tonight, or that at least one tiny light remains on through your sleep, or that the closet door has not ever so slightly opened while you slumbered? Or do you not ever pull the sheets all the way up over your eyes, even on uncomfortably warm nights, for if you do not see it, maybe it is not actually there?
It is these fears that are the most primal in humans; the fear of the unknown, the fear of the unseen, the fear of the unusual. Legends of old play on these fears, explaining things that cannot be explained, in ways that we can all agree are probably ridiculous, probably. No one knows exactly where these legends come from, or where they go when nobody is looking, but one thing is for sure: all legends—in large part or small—usually stem from real world encounters. The only reason we do not accept, as a civilization, that these legends may be real, is because we do not actually see to believe, we see to prove. But sometimes we simply do not know where to look.
Therefore, someone who says that werewolves are real is scorned as irrational, while someone who’s hesitant to travel from the house to the garage when the porchlight is broken—although all is well enough lit by the glow of the full moon—is perfectly reasonable. Because, for all we know, these legends really are false, and the beings they’re based on really could be nowhere at all. That, or they could be in the shadows in the corner where two walls meet; they could be listening just on the other side of the closet door; they could be waiting right under the bed for you to go to sleep. Or, for all we really know, they could very well be anywhere.