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The Scariest Thing in the Entire WORLD!

The Witchfinder General - a glorified bully

Top children’s horror writer Barry Hutchison recently asked me a very interesting question: What were you most afraid of as a child? Here’s my (perhaps rather unusual) answer:

Lots of COOL things scared me when I was little: the thought of vampires crawling in through my window and draining every drop of blood from my body; nuclear radiation turning me into a cannibal frog beast (did that mean I ate people or just other frog beasts? Hmm); the massive spider-badger that absolutely, definitely lived under my bed, no matter what my dad said (one day I’ll tell you exactly what a spider-badger is. As Sherlock Holmes used to say, the legend of the spider-badger is ‘a story for which the world is not yet prepared!’).
But there was one real life thing that scared me more than anything else.
He was called Martin, and he was the school bully.

When I was ten years old I thought Martin was just about the scariest thing in the entire world. He was spiteful and cruel and loved humiliating and hurting people. Looking back, I’m sure Martin was exactly the same as every other bully: a frightened, troubled little boy who was probably being bullied himself by older kids or even his parents, but that is still no excuse for the fear he inflicted on me and my friends.
When I go into schools and talk about the witch hunts of the 17th Century, I ask children if they think something similar could happen today. Could a vulnerable person be persecuted and tormented by an individual or a group of people until they are put in fear of their lives? Would we stand back and allow that to happen? Most of the time the children say, ‘No way, that couldn’t happen today, are you out of your tiny mind?!’ Then I tell them that such a thing is definitely going to happen in their school, probably today, probably as soon as the break time bell goes. One of their classmates is going to persecute and torment another child, maybe to such an extent that that child will go home and cry themselves to sleep. Maybe the child will even contemplate suicide because they can’t face another day of this torture. The Witchfinder of old was a bully plain and simple, and bullies haven’t died out. Martin was in many ways a direct descendant of Matthew Hopkins, the cruel and sadistic Witchfinder General.
The most important thing I tell children during my school visits is that, if they are being bullied, there is a way to make it STOP. They are not weak, they should not be ashamed, and they most definitely do not deserve what is happening to them. I put up with Martin’s bullying because I believed his silly threats. He told me that if I ever told a teacher or my parents the bullying would just get worse and no one would help me. That was complete RUBBISH. In fact, it was such a stupid threat that I can laugh at it now, but it didn’t seem funny at the time.
In the end I told my mum and dad. They came into school the next morning and the situation was sorted out STRAIGHT AWAY. My friends backed me up, and Martin was expelled. The scariest part of my childhood was over. So if you’re being bullied, take my advice: TELL SOMEONE. I guarantee things will get better. In fact, you’ll wonder why you didn’t tell someone ages ago! You do not have to put up with bullying, and as Matthew Hopkins found out – bullies NEVER prosper!

2 Responses to “The Scariest Thing in the Entire WORLD!”

  1. karim says:

    when dealing with a bully i have 2 phrases

    foot to groin,knee to nose

  2. Callum says:

    I’ve read a fair few of horror books and watched a fair few of
    horror films for my age and your books are the best books I have
    ever read! I agree with you 100% and you are my role model.

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