I mean, he’s not necessarily scary to anyone except for the person he’s intended to be scary for, and for that person, he’s the worst thing in the entire world. He’s horror beyond imagining, terror beyond dreams, and his touch is death and his gaze is…
Well, his gaze is somehow worse.
To the mind that makes him, he is the most horrific thing ever to exist, and his laughter steals souls. To anyone else who happens to catch a glimpse, he’s charming, even quaint; he’s a moon with a laughing face, or a piece of broccoli as large as a person, or a guinea pig with bloodlust in its eyes. He’s nothing all that terrible at all.
But the strength of childhood fears is in how difficult they are to share. When you can’t tell anyone what you’re really afraid of, they can’t make the little reassuring noises that allow you to chase the fear away. “Wolves won’t really come through the living room window and eat you alive” is easy. “The dinosaurs all died millions of years ago, they can’t come out of your closet and eat you alive” is slightly harder—why did the dinosaurs die? What killed them? All too easy to turn a fear of prehistoric predators into a fear of giant meteors. But “the vacuum cleaner is not alive, aware, and malicious” is very difficult, not least because it’s hard to utter that sentence without laughing.
Doctor Craterface grows strongest in the space between screams and laughter, the place where everyone knows his name, and his face is always different, and the terror is always the same. Children leave him, but he has his roots in the hearts of the adults they will become, and for them, he will always be at least a little unsettling, even if they can never quite articulate why without a chuckle and a wry expression.
He gets them young.
He has them forever.
Artist Lee Moyer (13th Age, Cursed Court) and author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart a Doorway) have joined forces to bring you icons and stories of the small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.
Join in each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many tiny divinities: