When I was a kid the thing I hated to do the most was take my clothes downstairs to the basement and place them in a big pile next to the laundry machine so that my Mom would wash them. That side of the basement was not finished and it freaking terrified me. I had so many nightmares about the place - like crazy reoccurring nightmares that I would realize when they were happening but I was unable to escape them.
One of the nightmares was that I would be up and around the house with no one else at home, and then I would become aware that it was approaching The Time. I don't know what time it was, but I could feel it in my bones that bad things were about to happen. So I would get under the kitchen table (the door to the basement was in the kitchen) and then the basement door would open and I could see the legs of some man. I never knew who it was, and never saw his face, but I knew that if this creature caught me out in the open it would do terrible things to me. The worst thing was the thought that it knew I was under the table, but it enjoyed the fact that I was so afraid, hiding under there trying not to be seen or heard.
Sometimes, either at the end of an unrelated dream or on it's own, I'd be walking down the stairs into the basement and when I stepped off the last step I was plunged into total darkness and something would grab me. I can't explain the terror this produced in me, and the fact that I KNEW at the top of the stairs what was about to happen, and I could not stop walking.
There were other crazy dreams like that, all taking place in the basement or about the basement. I hated the basement.
One day when I had to take my laundry down I was home alone except for my dog. So I decide it'll be better to have her down there with me than have to go by myself. I grab my laundry, call the dog, and head down the stairs. It's daylight, light is streaming down the stairs and into the basement through these small slit windows, and nothing is all that terrifying. I saunter over to the machine, casually toss my clothes onto the pile, and start to make my way back up the stairs.
Previous boldness aside, I always run up the stairs because I hate the basement. I was a scrawny kid, so you could barely hear my feet tapping up the stairs. Suddenly, all I can hear is this insane thudding and scrambling COMING UP THE STAIRS BEHIND ME! My brain almost literally shut down. I screamed with terror, I felt my heart pounding in my chest, and I couldn't even continue moving up the stairs. I simply fell onto the stairs and curled up into a ball. Can you even imagine growing up and being told monsters aren't real, and then facing the moment where your worst nightmare is about to murder you in your own home? I just shut my eyes as tight as I could and waited to die.
Then my dog started licking my face, excited to be playing a fun new game called Race You Up the Stairs.