Do dust bunnies make monsters under the bed sneeze? Do werewolves change if clouds hide the full moon? And what was that movement you saw at the corner of your eye? (More)

Morning Feature: Tricks’n’Treats Part III: Dust Bunnies and Monsters under the Bed (Silly Saturday)

This week Morning Feature will enjoy Halloween. Thursday we started with horror shorts. Yesterday we asked why some ghost stories are enduringly spine-chilling. Today we ponder why dust bunnies don’t make the monsters under the bed sneeze.

“I am a monster under the bed”

I’ve never heard a sneeze from under my bed. Well, except that time in summer camp, and then we had bunk beds. I had the top bunk, so I knew the sneeze came from the girl in the bunk below mine. The point is, no monster under my bed has ever sneezed.

And they should, because there are dust bunnies under the bed. And the dust bunnies should make the monsters under the bed sneeze. They do in this charming story by Christie Hall:

Marguerite slid under the bed, trying not to disturb the dust bunnies. It was bad enough to have to spend hours lying on top of misplaced LEGOs and runaway toy soldiers. If the dust blew around and made her sneeze, she could potentially wake up the kid above her and it was guaranteed that at least one of them would puncture her skin and be the cherry on top of this night.

She hated this job. Just because she was a monster didn’t mean that she should be relegated to scaring children in the middle of the night. Marguerite had dreams of her own; she didn’t want to take up the “family business.”

Her watch buzzed. Midnight. Her target, Johnny Schiffer, should be asleep. She tried not to bang her head on the kid’s floor at the thought of how stupid this whole thing was. Having scared children for generations was not a reason to continue doing it.

Sliding out from under Johnny’s bed, Marguerite hit the largest dust bunny ever created, causing it to explode in her face. She sneezed so hard her head jerked back and hit Johnny’s bed frame.

But this is Morning Feature, so I won’t settle for just one source. Time for a trip to Yahoo Answers, because random people on the internet are a reliable source for … well … words. And sure enough:

Janey never really had any problems with monsters under her bed, in fact the only thing under her bed were her shoes and a few odd dust bunnies which seemed to have a nest there. Her parents were grateful that they never had to re-assure her that there was no such thing as monsters, but there were days when they wondered why didn’t she suffer from monsterunderthebedphobia like so many children of her age.

Things were destined to change though, when one night a monster moved in and took up residence under Janey’s bed. The first she knew about it was while she was sitting on her bed reading her comic. There was a loud sniff, then another, then a sneeze!!!

Janey looked around, there was nobody in sight.

A small voice came from under the bed, “excuse me”.

Janey couldn’t believe her ears, there was somebody under her bed! She knelt on the carpet and peered into the darkness. There was definitely something there, she could just make it out by the way it blocked out the light. “Hullo? Are you feeling sick?”

The voice did not seem very scary “No, its just that these dust bunnies make me sneeze.”

Janey was taken aback, “but who are you?”

“Don’t you know? I am a monster under the bed.”

That makes two sources on the internet, which is one more than you need for a typical conspiracy theory. So dust bunnies should make monsters under the bed sneeze. Because I’ve never heard a sneeze from under my bed, there must not be any monsters down there. And I don’t even have to look under the bed to be sure, so the monsters that aren’t down there won’t be able to bite me.

Or sneeze on me.

“Where is Neil de Grasse Tyson when I need him?”

That of course leads to the cosmic question, do werewolves transform if clouds cover the full moon? Well, that’s where it leads if your mind works like mine does. And it seems some people’s minds do, because Yahoo Answers has information on that too:

yea they do because no matter where they are, in a room or into water or whatever, they change because the moon is there all full, its like in the sea it doesn’t matter if its cloudy or not, tide change because the moon. just like werewolfs

Random punctuation and spelling aside, that kinda makes sense. But another reply disagreed and cited a real source:

i believe they wont change if it is blocked, if you watch Harry potter and the prisoner of azkaban, professor lupin does not start changing until the moon comes out from behind the clouds
Source(s): harry potter and the prisoner of azkaban

J.K. Rowling sold a bazillion books, so that must be right. Or not:

That means that it’s possible that Lupin’s transformation wasn’t directly caused by the moonlight, but by the onset of full dark. The moon coming out from behind the clouds at that time was coincidence (and a good coincidence for dramatic effect).

This has much better punctuation and capitalization, plus the other two respondents agree with the answer. That’s three sources who agree on the meaning of text, enough to start a church and declare they know The One True Way.

But what about when full moon happens on the same night as a lunar eclipse. How do werewolves handle that? Yep, someone asked the internet:

Tonight we have a lunar eclipse, and also a full moon.

So does a werewolf change because the moon is full, then go back to human form during the eclipse, then change back to a werewolf after the eclipse, then change again to human form at dawn?

Where is Neil de Grasse Tyson when I need him?

And of course the internet answered:

Eclipse or not, remember that werewolves only change if they can actually see the full moon. On a cloudy night they won’t change at all, unless the clouds dramatically roll back at a crucial moment accompanied by a shocking sting of violins. (Source: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.)

No. This can’t be right. What would happen on a night with lots of passing clouds? You’d have your werewolf turning back and forth all evening. The monster would be about to rip apart some fair maiden and suddenly whoosh…back he’d turn and everyone would see that the werewolf was actually Paul, the friendly guy everyone likes. Does not work. Afflicted souls would just travel to a cloudy site each month and not even have to chain themselves up in an isolated room.

Got to be the same with an eclipse. The moon is still full, after all. It is not the light, it is the curse.

I’m sure Neil deGrasse Tyson would agree with that logic. Still, I kept looking, because the internet also has experts:

No they will transform even if the Moon is obstructed by cloud cover. Unknown dark forces related to the full Moon causes them to transform. However full illumination strengthens the Werewolf while complete cloud cover weakens them to an extent. That’s why Werewolf Hunters prefer cloudy nights.

It’s also a mistaken myth that they only transform on one night. The night of the 100% full Moon. In reality they transform during a Moon that’s at least 80% full. Although they are the peak of their power during the complete full Moon. So you have to be on alert all those nights rather than just one.

In addition there is one night a year when they require no Moon to transform into hairy horrors. That night being Halloween. Upon complete darkness on Halloween all humans afflicted with the Lycanthropy virus transform into Werewolves, and remain so until sunrise.

That’s from Xavier Remington, “the Founder, and President of Mystic Investigations. Big time paranormal investigator and hunter of evil supernatural entities.” If he’s not an expert, I don’t know who would be.

“I saw movement out of the corner of my eye”

Speaking of paranormal investigators, has anyone else noticed how often people on shows like Ghost Hunters say “I saw movement out of the corner of my eye?” Time for another trip to Yahoo Answers:

The things you are seeing out of the corner of your eye is a shadow figure. People haven’t figured out what they are though. Sometimes it appears as the mere silhouette of a person, usually male, but generally lacking any other characteristics of gender. However, in no way does the description end there. There are “hatted” shadow beings, hooded shadows, cloaked ones, and solid or wispy, smoky types. Some are seen only from the waist up. Others clearly have legs that are seen fleeing from their observers. They dart into corners, through walls, into closets, or behind television sets, bushes, and buildings. Sometimes they simply fade into the dark recesses of the night. Lacking in the description is one common denominator unifying the many different types of shadow people that enter our world…except that they are “intensely dark.” But from what I have heard and experienced, some can be positive, others not so much. Their are theories about what shadow figures are though, some people believe that they could be time travelers, others believe that they are some type of ghost, there are a lot of theories of what shadow figures are. Usually when I see a shadow figure I ignore it.

Your probably have a sensitivity when it comes to seeing and or feeling the energies of spirits, ghost’s etc…

Well I hoped I helped a bit 🙂

Good spelling and punctuation, and a smiley face. Plus it’s rated the Best Answer. So it must be true, right? Or not:

Before we can consider whether such ‘corner of the eye’ phenomena might be paranormal, we need to understand what to expect from the normal operation of our peripheral vision.

Maurice Townsend at the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena offers a photo that you can stare at and maybe see a face, or not, depending. But he offers lots of stuff about peripheral vision:

Outside the central area of the ‘picture in our head’, there is much lower resolution. Being used to it, you probably don’t even notice this. Peripheral vision is produced largely by retinal rod cells. Unlike the cone cells that produce the central detailed views, rods have poor resolution.

Rods are more sensitive to light and movement than cones but cannot see colour. Multiple rod cells converge into a single interneuron cell. This reduces overall resolution, like merging several pixels into one on a TV picture, but improves sensitivity to movement. This poor resolution and high sensitivity to movement is what causes everyday ‘corner of the eye’ phenomena, where you are vaguely aware of something in your peripheral vision but cannot see it properly.

Rods insensitivity to colour and poor resolution means that corner of the eye phenomena are typically black and white and their shapes vague. If you turn to look at an object seen in the ‘corner of your eye’, you will start to see it in much greater detail and in colour. As a consequence, it will look completely different. What was a vague dark shadow in the corner of your eye will turn into a differently shaped object in full colour. Sometimes the difference will be so pronounced that the original object will appear to vanish!

Due to the in-built human propensity to see faces and figures in random shapes, it is inevitable that some corner of the eye phenomena include such shapes. Once we turn to look at them properly, they will no longer make sense as figures or faces. Our brains will then ‘rationalise’ that the face or figure has vanished! It is no wonder that witnesses think they have seem a ghost or ‘shadow person’.

Furthermore, our brains may ‘substitute’ objects that are not seen well, such as those seen in the peripheral vision, with similar things from our visual memory. These ‘visual substitutions’, which occur before we are consciously aware of what we’re seeing, can appear strikingly real. Such ‘substitutions’ are not limited to just faces and figures, though these are common.

Distance is difficult to judge in peripheral vision, partly due to a lack of details and also because some objects may only be visible in one eye (no stereopsis) due to the nose intruding! The distance of objects seen in peripheral vision may thus often be wrongly reported. Something nearby may appear further away or vice versa. In particular, a nearby small object can appear bigger and further away. Naturally, the effect disappears when you turn to look directly at the object. So a ‘large object’ (seen as a ‘ghost’) in the middle distance ‘vanishes’, leaving only a small bush nearby!

Townsend’s group has the word “Scientific” right there in their name, so that must be true. Just to be on the safe side, though, let’s see what certified trainer and health and fitness writer Linda Melone writes at Prevention:

If you see things out of the corners of your eyes, you can skip calling Ghostbusters and instead get thee to an eye doc pronto. “Shadows in the corner of the eye may represent a serious condition like a detached or torn retina,” says Sandy T. Feldman, MD, MS, ophthalmologist and founder of ClearView Eye & Laser Medical Center in San Diego, CA. “This can result in vision loss if not treated promptly.”

Additionally, you may see “floaters” that look like a spider web floating around inside your eye, says Dr. Feldman. “This results from clumping of the vitreous gel or cells inside the vitreous, the clear gel of the eye.” Usually, this subsides over time and becomes less noticeable, but you should still get it checked out.

And it may not be an eye problem, according to Jim and Marilyn Folk of the Anxiety Centre:

The eye tricks symptom of anxiety is often described as seeing stars or movements out of the corner of your eyes that don’t exist. You might also see flashing lights in your eyes or your vision may seem almost kaleidoscope-like. Sometimes you may feel that there is a dark object or something just on the outside edge of your vision, or that your vision is narrowing.

The eye tricks symptom is also commonly referred to as ‘tunnel vision’ feeling.

While the eye tricks symptom can be startling, it isn’t harmful or an indication of something more serious. But because there are some medical conditions that can cause similar eye tricks symptoms, it’s best to discuss this symptom with your doctor or eye specialist. If they conclude your eye tricks symptom is stress and/or anxiety related, you have nothing to worry about. This eye tricks symptom subsides as your body’s overly stressed state is addressed. Therefore, the anxiety eye tricks symptom needn’t be a cause for concern.

Uggh. Now I have three experts with different opinions (that shadow is just a trick of peripheral vision, or you need to rush to an eye doctor, or maybe it’s anxiety) plus a fourth opinion (it’s a ghost) in a post that was rated Best Answer. And the Best Answer also has that smiley face. That’s gotta count for something.

Maybe I’ll ask a werewolf tonight. Or the monster that isn’t under my bed.


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Happy Halloween!