“Something in the Walls”

Twilight Zone - Tell No One

One of life’s great joys is finally finding something for which you’ve been searching a long time. I’ve written about this before: in 2011, I finally found a short story called “Obstinate Uncle Otis,” by Robert Arthur, which heavily influenced me (https://kristipetersenschoonover.com/2012/07/11/the-other-shoe-drops-robert-arthurs-obstinate-uncle-otis/); I also was able to find a short story my father had referenced only once, many years ago, but had never uttered its title or who had written it so I had to search by key word (“The Light of Other Days,” by Bob Shaw: https://kristipetersenschoonover.com/tag/the-light-of-other-days-by-bob-shaw/).

There are many such things on my list, and I’m happy to report yet another has been found.

Back in the 1980s, I was a fan of the “new” The Twilight Zone, an anthology-style series which ran from 1985-1987 on CBS and from 1988-1989 in syndication (interestingly enough, I have a special connection to the series in another way: you can read about my first rejection letter here https://kristipetersenschoonover.com/2011/07/28/the-goodbye-project-letting-go-is-good-yo-episode-16-rejection-slips-part-one-keep-your-favorite/).

At some point, I remembered seeing an episode in which a woman in a mental hospital is terrified of patterns. The last scene, which I won’t spoil, scared the hell out of me and has haunted my nightmares ever since. In fact, it was a direct inspiration for my novel Bad Apple, which was originally penned in 2005 and is now published by Vagabondage Press Books.

In 2011 and early 2012, while working with my editor on the final revisions for Bad Apple, the scene began to haunt me again. I wanted to find the episode, but after searching on all kinds of crazy key phrases like “patterns in the walls” and “Twilight Zone Episode where woman is afraid of patterns” and searching through The Twilight Zone series episode summaries, I began to wonder if it was even The Twilight Zone at all; anthology series saw a resurgence in the 1980s, and I was a fan of all of them: Amazing Stories, Tales from the Crypt, Ray Bradbury Theatre—you name it, I watched it. I was wondering if, perhaps, I’d seen this in one of the other series and had gotten confused over the years. But after searching through all of those—some of which I own on DVD—I still came up short.

While conducting an interview for my podcast, Scary Scribes, last February, the subject of this episode came up as my guest (I think it was John Palisano, author of Nerves) and I discussed inspirations for and influences on our work.

My husband Nathan was downstairs in the living room, listening to Scary Scribes via live stream. He had heard me mention my search for the episode periodically since 2005 had been in vain, and by the time our show went dark, he had located it. It turns out that yes, it was an episode of The Twilight Zone, and it had aired in the series’ syndicated season in 1989. It was called “Something in the Walls.”

I asked him how he found it, because apparently, after reading and re-reading the series’ episode summaries, I’d missed it.

“You were thinking it was a story about the woman, so that’s what you looked for,” he said. “I decided to search the descriptions based on the male psychiatrist you mentioned instead.”

Sure enough, he’d found it through this description on Wikipedia: “A doctor (Damir Andrei) arrives at his new job in a sanitarium. He discovers the case of a woman (Deborah Raffin) who is terribly frightened of things that appear on her walls.”[1]

So now, I give you a direct inspiration for my novel Bad Apple: “Something in the Walls.” If you’d like to read all about the episode instead of watching it, you can visit Postcards from the Zone here: http://postcardsfromthezone.blogspot.com/2007/04/319-something-in-walls.html

If the embed doesn’t work, the direct link to the episode is below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWc9ack129E


[1]Wikipedia, “List of The Twilight Zone (1985 TV series) episodes,” Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_The_Twilight_Zone_(1985_TV_series)_episodes  (accessed October 16, 2012).

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About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in countless magazines and anthologies. She has received three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies, is a co-editor for Read Short Fiction, and co-hosts the Dark Discussions Podcast. Her work Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole is a collection of ghost stories set in Disney Parks; her horror novel, Bad Apple, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She’s also a member of the New England Horror Writers Association. More info: www.kristipetersenschoonover.com

Posted on February 5, 2013, in Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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